2014 TigsTools: Best Athlete

Nearly every player at the professional level is a very good athlete, but when one sees premium athletes on the diamond, they capture the imagination. The Tigers high-end raw athletes have been harder to come by in recent years, but with the addition of one draft pick in 2014, the Tigers saw the arrival of one of the best athletes the Tigers have had in their system since Cameron Maybin.

Best Athlete
1. Derek Hill (OF)
2. Daniel Fields (OF)
3. Tyler Gibson (OF)
4. Connor Harrell (OF)
5. Rashad Brown (OF)

The ranks of the Tigers’ outfield prospects continue to be littered with high-end athletes. 2015 first round pick Derek Hill assumes the top spot on this list, jumping returning talents like Fields, Gibson, and Harrell. Hill in an exceptional athlete with fluidity, quick-twitch ability, and baseball tools to spare. Barring the selection of another ridiculous athlete in next year’s draft, it is difficult to see Hill’s status atop this list changing any time soon.

Fields, Gibson, and Harrell are all mainstays on this list, with all three owning the tools and athleticism to play in the middle of the outfield. Fields offers the most impressive athleticism that scouts believe would play across nearly any sport he chooses. Gibson is similar, though injuries have held him back a bit and while those injuries are unlikely to hamper his athleticism long term, it places him behind Fields.

Rashad Brown has the speed and athleticism to play in center field, but his arm strength comes up short, forcing him to left field. With his quick twitch ability, Brown may be the most explosive of the non-Hill athletes in the Tigers system.

Honorable Mention
Wynton Bernard (OF)
Steven Fuentes (IF)
Steven Moya (OF)

Added to the Tigers’ 40-man roster in November, much to the surprise of everyone in the industry, Bernard is a solid athlete on the diamond, though lacks any impressive baseball tools. Fuentes has topped this list in the past and there remains an argument for him to be among the Top 5 this time around. In my looks this summer, his body filled out and while still explosive, lost a half-tick of his raw athleticism as a result. Moya is a surprising athlete for a player his size, and that athleticism gives him a chance to make a difficult physical profile work as a competent Major League player.

Projection Kings
Hector Hernandez (OF)
Jose Salas (SS)
Orvin Tovar (OF)

Those that reviewed this list last year may be familiar with Hernandez innate athleticism, but less so with Tovar and Salas. Tovar had a bit of a coming out party in the VSL in 2014 and his athleticism gives scouts hope that he could be on the verge of an explosive jump forward with his stateside debut in 2015. Salas was a high-profile international signing last summer and amateur scouts lauded him as an exceptional athlete with exciting tools that should be watched closely as he develops.

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