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Detroit Tigers Best Tools - The 2016 TigsTools Series: Best Hitter

With the graduation of Nick Castellanos to the big leagues two years ago, the Tigers have lacked a top hitter with the projection to be a very good big league hitter. Has a good 2015 draft and growth from a couple of players changed that?

Best Hitter

1. Christin Stewart (OF)

2. Dean Green (1B/DH)

3. Michael Gerber (OF)

4. AJ Simcox (SS)

5. Dixon Machado (SS)

 

A pair of outfielders and a pair of shortstops being among the best hitters is not a surprise, while the final man among the top five may surprise some, but he simply keeps hitting. Green doesn’t have the most conventional swing or the fastest bat, but he makes good solid contact and doesn’t have lots of swing and miss in his game.

 

Among the outfielders who just finished last year in West Michigan, Stewart checks in at the top of the list. As one of the Tigers top draft picks in 2015, he has the ability to be an above average hitter (to go along with his above average power), but an aggressive approach could hold him back. He has very good bat speed through the zone, and a good feel for the bat, so his future likely comes down to how well his approach at the plate develops and if he can reign in his aggressiveness to ensure the pitches he swings at are pitches he can drive. Gerber meanwhile has made tremendous strides since being a relatively non-descript 15th round draft pick two years ago with a better approach and solid bat-on-ball contact ability.

 

A newcomer to the list is Simcox, who was an above-slot signing by the Tigers in the 2015 draft. Some were surprised at the club’s decision to meet his mid-six-figure bonus demands, but Simcox has proven himself to be very underrated, especially after making changes to his swing after being drafted that he took to very quickly. He has excellent contact skills, which could lead to him being an above-average big league hitter. Machado meanwhile still doesn’t have great strength, but is noticeably stronger than he was a couple years ago, allowing what used to frequently be weak contact to play up. He also maintains a good eye and has an outstanding approach, helping him be more selective and only swing at pitches he can put in play.

 

Honorable Mention

 

Dominic Ficociello (1B)

Zach Shepherd (3B)

Joey Pankake (3B)

 

Ficociello made strides in 2015, and with his above average bat speed and feel for the barrel, he’s able to make consistent solid contact to all fields. His aggressive approach is likely the only thing holding him back from being among the top five hitters in the organization. Pankake is a solid all-around hitter that does a lot of things at the plate well. Shepherd meanwhile could also fit in the projection bucket. He already displays very good patience, and shows flashes of being an above average hitter.

 

Projection Kings

 

Anthony Pereira (IF)

Randel Alcantara (IF)

Derek Hill (OF)

 

It’s impossible to look at this group and not start with Hill, who a year ago was considered one of the most promising hitters in the organization. But that leap didn’t happen in 2015. To be clear, there is still plenty of potential and he has the tools, but his 2015 season showed his game at the plate needed quite a bit more work. Pereira meanwhile was considered a very good hitting prospect a year ago, and he’s done nothing to change that, handling the bat well in the VSL and GCL. The final member of the list is Alcantara, but he’s a name to watch. Alcantara didn’t just show promise at the plate in the DSL last year, he is obviously still heavy on projection, but has been referred to as a gifted hitter that could be in line for a big jump with a Stateside promotion in 2016.


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