Prospects Stock on the Rise (no order)
3B Zach Shepherd
Shepherd was a relative unknown in the Tigers system prior to the season. TigsTown ranked him the 36th prospect last off-season and by the mid-season he was ranked 6th. He posted a .245/.327/.339 as a 19 year-old playing for full-season West Michigan. There is a lot of positional uncertainty surrounding Shepherd as many think he won’t stick at third base and profiles as more of a corner outfielder long term. However he showed the potential for a 5 hit tool that could play in the Major Leagues.
OF Michael Gerber
Another relative unknown prior to his breakout with West Michigan this year, Gerber hit .292/.355/.468 with West Michigan. He showed a short, compact swing in my viewings this year, and he also showed some pretty good power at times. There is some positional uncertainty because he was used as a DH a lot, but it looks like he could become a solid fourth outfielder.
RHP Michael Fulmer
Acquired at the trade deadline for Yoenis Cespedes, Fulmer burst onto the prospect scene this year with a 1.88 ERA and a 2.63 FIP in 86 innings for the Mets Double-A affiliate before being traded to Detroit. He throws a fastball, slider, curveball, and change-up . I’ve mostly seen the fastball and slider both graded as plus or better, the curveball graded as average to above average, and the change-up as below average to slightly below average. There are some injury concerns with Fulmer, but his ceiling is that of a #3 starter.
RHP Sandy Baez
Another guy that was relatively unknown by many not that long ago, Baez started to get recognized more this year since he pitched out of the complex in the short season New York Penn League. He had a 4.13 ERA and a 3.96 FIP in 65 1/3 innings in the NYPL this year. Baez is a groundball machine and his arsenal features a potential plus fastball, a change-up with about average potential and a curveball that also has about average potential according to TigsTown’s own James Chipman. Also according to Chipman, he could be a starter but the stuff could play up out of the bullpen.
IF Anthony Pereira
One of the fastest rising prospects in the system, Pereira hit .298/.372/.440 as an 18 year old in the Venezuelan Summer League before being assigned to the Gulf Coast League where he hit .219/.297/.323 . Scouts who have seen him question whether or not he’ll be able to stay at shortstop, but the offensive potential will play anywhere. If he is able to stick at short-stop long term the tigers might really have something good here.
Prospects Stock on the Decline (no order)
RHP Buck Farmer
Ranked as the number 11 prospect in the system last offseason by TigsTown. Farmer burst on the scene in the Tigers system last year, moving all the way from Low-A West Michigan to Detroit. However, he hasn’t performed well in the majors to this point. This year he continued look more and more like a 4A type. In 37 innings with the Tigers this season he has a 7.71 ERA, a 7.03 FIP and a 5.52 xFIP at the time of this writing. There is still hope for Farmer as he is still only 24 years old and has shown a much improved change-up this year. It was also only his 2nd full season of professional baseball after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 draft out of Georgia Tech.
OF Steven Moya
After a 35 home run campaign in Double-A in 2014 many people still had Moya as one of the top prospects in the Tigers system coming into this season. However, there have always been doubts as to whether or not Moya’s swing will work at the Major League level. After hearing some horrible reviews from evaluators about Moya on both sides of the ball at Triple-A this year I decided to put him on the bad side of this list. For me, Moya isn’t even a top 10 prospect in this system anymore.
C Grayson Greiner
Ranked as the 12th prospect in the Tigers farm system by TigsTown last off-season, Greiner hit a horrendous .183/.254/.250 in 89 games for High-A Lakeland this year. If he had qualified for the batting title, he would have had the second worst OPS in the Florida State League. Catchers take longer to develop, but Grayson was a college performer that should have hit better this year. When he was drafted last year he was seen as a quality defender behind the dish with the chance to hit for some power. If he continues to struggle like he did this past year, we’ll start seeing more people calling him an organizational guy.
RHP Jeff Thompson
Thompson was thought of as a legitimate prospect after the 2013 season with West Michigan, but an injury forced him to miss much of 2014 season. Last offseason he was ranked by TigsTown as the 48th best prospect in the Tigers system. This year he was back pitching in West Michigan and showed decreased velocity (consistently low 90’s in 2013, typically in the 87-89 range this year),he also struggled to find consistency in his release point/arm slot and showed questionable mound presence. After watching him this year it is hard to have any hope for the future of Jeff Thompson and he is pretty much considered a non-prospect at this point.
LHP Kevin Ziomek
Many people, myself included, became very intrigued with Ziomek early in the 2014 season. During the 2014 season it was easy to see starter potential in the lefty. However, this year in Lakeland the fastball velocity was way down and the fastball started getting graded more as below-average instead of plus, as we consistently saw last year. The slider still looks like an average offering, but the curve-ball and change-up both look like below-average pitches. With his regression this year, Ziomek is starting to look more like a long-reliever than a back-end starter.