#50 – Johan Belisario – Right-Handed Pitcher
Belisario is a tough prospect to handle in rankings like this, posting exceptional numbers each of the last two years, but owning a limited ceiling with decent raw stuff. From a slight frame he fires an above-average fastball with good movement that he keeps low in the zone consistently, and also offers a second above-average pitch with his breaking ball. Belisario looks the part of a seventh inning reliever, but he still has several levels to navigate before his big league arrival.
#49 – Adrian Alfaro – Shortstop
An all-around player, Alfaro is poised to begin moving up these rankings over the next year or two. Blessed with a solid defensive game that can play at shortstop – though may ultimately fit better at second base – Alfaro has a strong foundation from which to build. His offensive game relies on contact and a quality approach at the plate, and he knows how to grind at-bats and use his average speed on the bases. Alfaro projects as a potential utility infielder, but a well-rounded one that could contribute a club in many ways.
#48 – Joey Pankake – Infielder
Following his full-season debut with West Michigan in 2015, many of the same discussions folks were having in 2014 are still going on today. Pankake has a natural offensive game where he makes consistent hard contact thanks to a sound approach, good bat speed, and an easy ability to get the bat on the ball. Where the interesting discussions begin are on the defensive side of the ball, where Pankake lacks the range and quickness for shortstop or second base, and hasn’t shown the hands or feel for third base. Most scouts believe he is a left fielder long term, but that result would put extra pressure on his offensive game.
#47 – Austin Kubitza – Right-Handed Pitcher
Kubitza hit a massive road block in Double-A in 2015, showing no ability to command his heavy fastball or slider, which resulted in Eastern League hitters pounding him all season long. Kubtiza’s fastball is below-average in the upper-80s and will only occasionally scrape 90-91 mph, but when he locates the pitch, his impressive sinking action can induce weak contact. When mixed with his slider and changeup, his arsenal can play to a reasonable level. While some scouts still think Kubitza could be a #5 starter or middle reliever, an equal number of scouts are losing hope and giving him an organizational projection.
#46 – Wynton Bernard – Outfielder
For the second year in a row Bernard posted strong numbers that get prospect hounds excited, only for scouts to shout down that excitement because the results don’t match the on-field ability. Bernard is a quick-twitch athlete, though one without feel for the game. His glove work in center field is easily below-average, as is his arm strength. In the box he frequently hits off his front foot and chases out of the zone, leaving many scouts to question his ability to hit consistently against good pitching. Though he is a plus runner, Bernard lacks the instincts to put that tool to good use. Most scouts project Bernard as an org player with the potential to be the 25th man on a roster.
#45 – Dominic Ficociello – First Baseman
After signing the second time the Tigers drafted him, Ficociello got on track in 2015 and showed some skills across two minor league levels. Though he has found time at third base and second base in his career, Ficociello is a premium first base defender and that will likely be his home over the long term. Offensively, Ficociello shows very good bat speed and a good approach at the plate, resulting in an ability to hit the ball to all fields with fringe power. He has a tough profile to navigate, but with some versatility in his back pocket, Ficociello could carve out a niche on a big league bench.
#44 – Eudis Idrogo – Left-Handed Pitcher
Idrogo is an interesting names for Tiger fans to keep in their back pocket, particularly after showing solid stuff after coming stateside, and a history of performance in Venezuela. Idrogo works from a very low-3/4 slot that approaches side-arm, and his fastball can touch 91-92 mph from the left side. His slow-breaking curveball and changeup have potential to give him a three pitch mix that can work wonders in a left-on-left relief role long term.
#43 – Ross Kivett – Outfielder
A classic Tigers draft pick as a college performer from a big-time conference, Kivett is a solid all-around player that lacks either significant strengths or significant weaknesses. An above-average runner with an ability to play all three outfield spots, Kivett is a sound defender with a good arm. His bat yields solid contact to all fields and the potential to pick up extra-base hits in both gaps. Kivett has little future as an everyday player, but many scouts believe he could be an asset as a reserve outfielder.
#42 – Shane Zeile – Catcher
Zeile is going to be a volatile prospect for the next few years as he tries to corral some impressive potential to become a viable catching prospect. A natural athlete with the gifts to stay behind the dish, Zeile could be a quality receiver with good catch-and-throw skills and a strong arm, if things all come together on the field. Offensively, Zeile has the ability to get the bat on the ball and move it to all fields, though he lacks any substantive power.
#41 – Artie Lewicki – Right-Handed Pitcher
A senior sign out of Virginia in 2014, Lewicki has the ingredients to make a name for himself at the big league level. Thanks to a low-90s fastball with good movement, an average breaking ball, and decent changeup, Lewicki has some supporters that believe he could develop into a back-end starter. Other supporters believe Lewicki’s stuff can play up in shorter stints, reaching 95 mph with his fastball, and potentially giving him a seventh inning projection.
#40 – Francisco German – Right-Handed Pitcher
One of the Tigers up and coming Latin American arms, German impressed many scouts with his arm strength in the GCL last season. With an ability to run the fastball up to 95-96 mph at his best, German can blow his lively and explosive heater past hitters, and scouts are nearly unanimous regarding his ability to add even more velocity down the line. German is still learning to control his plus fastball and his secondary pitches require development, but he could be an intriguing relief arm down the line.
#39 – Will Allen – Catcher
Finally healthy after shoulder surgery in 2014 that caused him to slide in the draft and the Tigers to sign him late, Allen put up impressive numbers with short-season Connecticut in 2015. Allen offers a strong, physical frame that is ideal for catching, and his strength shows at the plate where he can pound the ball to all fields and has average raw power. His offensive approach made strides as the season went along, giving hope that he can continue to bring his power into game situations.
#38 – Confesor Lara – Right-Handed Pitcher
After converting from the outfield to the pitcher’s mound, Lara is still more thrower than pitcher, often falling in love with one pitch during an outing, and almost always just throwing as hard as he can on the mound. Lara’s raw stuff will keep his name on the radar as he can run his fastball up to 96-97 mph with life, and his slider occasionally looks the part of an above-average pitch. With development, and the addition of an approach on the mound, Lara could be a high-powered reliever that pitches late in games.
#37 – Hector Martinez – Shortstop
Martinez is going to take a while to make his way through the Tigers’ minor league system, but the payoff could be an up-the-middle player with potential on both sides of the ball. After garnering plenty of praise as an amateur, Martinez has begun to translate his talent to the field with average defensive potential, including his arm strength that should allow him to stick at shortstop. In addition, his bat has shown life with strong contact to all fields, though he needs to continue developing his offensive approach if he wants to reach his ceiling as an average big leaguer.
#36 – Eduardo Jimenez – Right-Handed Pitcher
Jimenez has missed time following Tommy John surgery, but when healthy he shows a mid-90s fastball that has the potential to be a devastating offering against any level of competition. He compliments his plus fastball with a curveball that flashed as an above-average pitch before he went under the knife, and he also showed some feel for a changeup. Jimenez has an extremely high ceiling on the mound, but he has a lot of work to do to make up for lost developmental time due to surgery.
#35 – Jose Azocar – Outfielder
Azocar is one of the newer names on the Tigers prospect radar, but his potential is considerable. Blessed with a long, lean, and athletic body, Azocar looks the part of a gifted center fielder. Armed with plus speed and excellent instincts, Azocar is already an above-average defender up the middle with even more potential as he refines his game. At the plate, Azocar’s approach is raw and he is prone to chasing pitches out of the strike zone. When he hones his approach, Azocar has the ability to drive the ball to the gaps and shows some potential for average power to the pull side; a trait which may develop more as he adds strength and completes his physical development.
#34 – Paul Voelker – Right-Handed Pitcher
Don’t be surprised of Voelker pops up at the big league level and suddenly starts contributing as a middle reliever as soon as the 2016 season. His fastball can work 94-95 mph consistently with some lift when thrown down in the zone, but he too often loses plane thanks to both his short stature and pitching up in the strike zone too often. Voelker has some funk in his delivery and a good breaking ball, both of which help him keep hitters off balance.
#33 – Randel Alcantara – Third Baseman
Some in the Tigers organization believe they “stole” one when they inked Alcantara late in the international signing period, despite his prior history and many believing he would get a six-figure deal at the outset of the open period. Alcantara’s calling card is his prodigious raw power from the left side, frequently resulting in mammoth blasts to all fields. His approach at the plate improved throughout the 2015 season and continued growth in that area could allow his power to play to a greater degree in game situations. Defensively, Alcantara is a question mark at third base, but if his power manifests like some believe it can, then where he plays won’t matter.
#32 – Sandy Baez – Right-Handed Pitcher
Baez has quickly gained supporters in and out of the Tigers organization with the development of his stuff and his solid performance over the last two seasons. Though most evaluators peg him for a relief role long term, Baez still has a chance to start if he can continue his development. When at his best, Baez works with a heavy low-90s fastball that touches 96, and his power curveball and dominate when he commands the pitch. The changeup and command still lag considerably, but Baez’s progress to date has been impressive and gives hope to what his future could bring.
#31 – Adam Ravenelle – Right-Handed Pitcher
Finally healthy in the Arizona Fall League, Ravenelle showed the electric stuff that made the Tigers select him out of Vanderbilt and had many scouts excited about his potential. As he battled injuries early in the 2015 season, Ravenelle’s fastball didn’t get out of the low-90s, but in the AFL he was showing 94-96 mph heat with an easy delivery and impressive life. His slider also flashed potential and the combination could result in a mix of two plus pitches down the line. If that projection comes to fruition, then Ravenelle could find his way into the 7th or 8th inning of big league games as a high leverage reliever.