Best Infield Defense
1. Dixon Machado (SS)
2. Dominic Ficociello (1B)
3. A.J. Simcox (SS)
4. Harold Castro (2B)
5. Adrian Alfaro (IF)
Tigers fans got a few brief glimpses of Dixon Machado’s defensive ability last season, but the young Venezuelan has been terrorizing opposing minor-league hitters for quite some time now, and his superb defense finds him on top of this list for the fourth consecutive year. Though not gifted with excellent speed, Machado nonetheless displays terrific range thanks to outstanding instincts and a quick first step. He also shows good footwork, soft hands, and a howitzer of an arm that allows him to make throws from anywhere.
First base is near the bottom of the defensive spectrum, but Ficociello is so gifted there that he ranks near the top of this list. He snags nearly everything hit his way, he’s quiet around the bag and provides a big target for throws, and he even has a very strong arm, though he doesn’t get to put it on display very often.
A.J. Simcox impressed with his bat in his first professional action, but it was his defense that convinced the Tigers to sign him for $600,000 in last year’s 14th round. The former Tennessee Volunteer is a legitimate shortstop who will stick at the position in pro ball thanks to range, hands, and arm strength that are all above average.
Primarily a second baseman, Harold Castro stands out most for his athleticism, which helps him make routine plays, and occasionally pull off the spectacular. He shows average range, soft hands, decent footwork around the bag, and a solid-average arm.
Alfaro is one of the more impressive young infield defenders in the system, showcasing enough range to potentially stick at shortstop, but also the chops to be an above-average second baseman. He’s not spectacular, but he’s steady and surehanded.
Jared Reaves (SS)
Jose Zambrano (INF)
Reaves is another defender who doesn’t wow with the glove, but he’s consistent and reliable at shortstop, where he shows adequate range, hands, and arm strength. Zambrano earns a mention more for versatility and effort than for pure tools, but the young Venezuelan has proven to be a solid defender at second base, shortstop, and third.
Anthony Pereira (SS)
Isrrael De La Cruz (SS)
Pereira’s all-around game makes him one of the more exciting young prospects in the system, and while his ultimate defensive home is yet to be determined, he has shown the range, instincts, and raw ability to potentially be a solid defender at second, third, or short. De La Cruz is still very raw, but he has flashed the first-step quickness, soft hands, and instincts to suggest he could become a premium defender once he fully matures.