#30 – Shane Zeile – Catcher
Zeile has a lot to prove as a professional, and his injury issues continue to get in the way of that just one year after being drafted. When he’s on the field, Zeile has projectable defensive skills, a solid approach at the plate and an ability to hit the ball to all fields, combined with a classic grinder approach to the game. That total package could develop into a solid second division catcher if he can put things together.
#29 – Paul Voelker – Right-Handed Pitcher
A late cut from the pre-season rankings, Voelker has vaulted himself into the Top 30 by displaying dominating stuff in late game situations at multiple levels this year. Already at Double-A just a year after being drafted and signed, Voelker gets it done with mid-90s heat and a quality breaking ball, giving him a chance to peak as a setup man at the highest level.
#28 – Cam Gibson – Outfielder
The son of former Tiger great Kirk Gibson, Cam is gritty, all-out player that makes things happen on both sides of the ball. He can defend in center field and continues to improve his reads and routes, giving him a chance to use his impressive speed. Gibson has some power in his bat but is better suited to work the middle of the diamond with line drives, allowing him to put the ball in play consistently and put his speed to use on the bases.
#27 – Anthony Castro – Right-Handed Pitcher
With just mediocre results this season, Castro would likely be rocketing up this list. Instead, his need for Tommy John surgery has him in a holding pattern as a prospect. When right, Castro has the broad arsenal, command projection, and swagger to develop into a mid-rotation starter with impressive stuff. Getting Castro back on the mound in 2016 will be a huge boost to the Tigers system.
#26 – Drew VerHagen – Right-Handed Pitcher
After solid but unspectacular results as a starter the last couple of years, the Tigers moved VerHagen to the bullpen this year at Double-A Erie. His heavy fastball and solid changeup can both play well in relief, and the shorter outings allow him to hide his below-average breaking ball. VerHagen’s ceiling sits in the seventh inning range with middle relief more likely.
#25 – Kade Scivicque – Catcher
Another 2015 draftee, this time a fourth rounder out of LSU, Scivicque’s profile is buoyed by the sum of his parts rather than any individual carrying tool. Evaluators are mixed on his defensive ceiling, but most believe he can be an adequate big league defender behind the dish. Where evaluators are not mixed, however, is with regard to his hitting ability. Scivicque is a natural hitter with the potential to post solid averages and on-base percentages while finding the gaps frequently.
#24 – Michael Gerber – Outfielder
One of the breakout stars of the Tigers system this year, Gerber has begun to quiet his college critics that did not believe he could make enough contact for his game to work at the professional level. After showing a long swing and aggressive approach in his 2014 debut, Gerber’s swing has been consistently shorter and he has shown a much more patient approach at the plate this year. If this trend continues, Gerber’s stock could continue to soar as he has some potential with a ceiling as an average everyday player.
#23 – Sandy Baez – Right-Handed Pitcher
Baez is another prospect with an improving stock. Finally out of the complex leagues and into the spotlight of short-season ball in the NYPL, Baez is still flashing an intriguing fastball and quality breaking ball. Critics still cite a rough delivery and general inconsistency as reasons to project him in a relief role, but there is some reason for optimism that he could continue developing as a starting pitcher down the line. Regardless, Baez has the high-powered arsenal the Tigers love and he should move up this list in short order.
#22 – Endrys Briceno – Right-Handed Pitcher
Back on the mound after missing most of the 2014 season following Tommy John surgery, Briceno is looking to get his stuff and command back on track. Poised for a breakout prior to his injury last season, Briceno’s re-emergence as a prospect could help a thin system get back on track. If healthy and back to his old ways, Briceno has mid-rotation potential with electric stuff.
#21 – Joey Pankake – Third Baseman
Though he numbers haven’t jumped off the page like some of his teammates in West Michigan, Pankake has continued to impress scouts with his professional approach to hitting and his ability to work the ball to all fields with power. A natural hitter, Pankake’s offensive game will have to carry the load if he is to remain a prospect, considering he struggles to play third base consistently and most scouts believe he fits best on an outfield corner.