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Detroit Tigers Top Prospects - 2017 TigsTown Top 50: 40-31

TigsTown continues its countdown of the top 50 prospects in the organization for 2017 with a look at those prospects ranked in the 30's, featuring a number of arms in various stages of development, including a pair of arms that have come back strong from injuries.

40. Connor Harrell – Outfielder    

After seeing his performance dip considerably during his first exposure to advanced Double-A arms in 2015, Harrell rebounded with a stronger performance at the same level in 2016. A physical, gifted athlete, Harrell can man all three outfield positions with a strong arm and solid defensive skills. He will always strikeout a considerable amount because of suspect pitch recognition ability, but when he connects, he can drive the ball to the gaps and over the fence. Harrell is a prospect in the sense that he has a likely big league role as a versatile reserve outfielder, but time is running short for a player that will be 26-years old on Opening Day 2017.

 

39. Chad Bell – Left-Handed Pitcher  

Acquired from the Rangers in exchange for Bobby Wilson (whom the Tigers had acquired from the Rangers just a few weeks earlier), Bell resides at the older end of the prospect range and will pitch the 2017 season as a 28-year old likely starting the year in Triple-A. Bell offers an upper-80s fastball that he can move around the zone. His secondary offerings can be inconsistent, but he mixes and matches well to work away from the hitter’s tendencies and to the game situation. Bell could help the Tigers bullpen in 2017, but likely as a middle reliever or second bullpen lefty behind Justin Wilson.

 

38. Jake Robson – Outfielder       

The Tigers 8th round pick in 2016, Robson hit the ground running in pro ball, including an impressive 20-game sprint through the tail end of the NYPL season where he posted a .347/.460/.486 line. Robson is an above-average to plus runner, particularly once underway in the outfield. He gets down the line well and can use his speed to steal bases at times; flashing 20-30 stolen base potential. Though he has the strength to drive the ball, Robson’s swing is geared to hard line drives, which works well given his all-fields approach. Robson can handle center field and has a chance to be a second-division starter and table setter if things break well for him.

 

37. Jake Baker – Left-Handed Pitcher   

A strong, physical (6-foot-2, 200 pound) 18-year old, Baker will make his Stateside debut in 2017 after signing with the Tigers out of Australia earlier this year. At present, he can work his fastball up to 92 mph, but consistently works in the 88-89 mph range. Scouts familiar with Baker in Australia believe he could see a bump to his average velocity as he reaps the benefits of a professional training program. Baker’s best pitch is a potential plus curveball that plays well off his fastball. Control can be an issue for Baker and he must make strides to compete against stiffer professional competition, but upon signing him, the Tigers added an intriguing left-hander with strong potential.

 

36. Angel Nesbitt – Right-Handed Pitcher  

After reaching Detroit for 24 games in 2015, Nesbitt regressed considerably in 2016, struggling as he posted a 5.68 ERA in 28 Triple-A outings. Nesbitt failed to show the mid-90s heat that had previously pushed him up prospect lists, instead sitting in the low-90s with a cutter that was not as sharp as previous seasons. Conditioning remains an issue for Nesbitt, but if he can regain the sharp cutter and throw consistent strikes, he still has a chance to be a solid middle relief option at the big league level. Without progress in 2017, Nesbitt could be running out of chances in the Tigers organization.

 

35. Julio Martinez – Outfielder   

Martinez’s Stateside debut in the GCL in 2016 doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but there is still plenty of reason to pay attention to and be excited about his future. Blessed with rare raw power, Martinez can drive the ball out of any ballpark, and he has displayed enough feel for hitting at an early age that he could blossom into a classic boom-or-bust power threat. In a perfect world, Martinez likely would have spent another season in the Dominican Summer League honing his craft, but the Tigers hand was forced with the elimination of the Venezuelan Summer League. With another year in the GCL, Martinez could re-establish some of the shine on his prospect star.

 

34. Artie Lewicki – Right-Handed Pitcher    

An eighth round senior sign out of Virginia in 2014, Lewicki came back strong following an injury-shortened 2015 season with West Michigan. After a quick stop in the Florida State League, Lewicki posted a solid 3.48 ERA across 12 starts in Double-A. Blessed with a broad arsenal of solid pitches and good strike throwing ability, Lewicki has the potential to develop into a back of the rotation starter over the next year or two; providing valuable depth to the Tigers starting rotation. Lewicki should return to Double-A to start the season, but could earn a spot in the Toledo rotation with a strong spring training.

 

33. Gregory Soto – Left-Handed Pitcher

The Tigers challenged the 21-year old – and still raw – Soto with an assignment to the short-season New York-Penn League in 2016, and he responded with a 3.03 ERA across 15 starts, including less than a hit per inning. When his mechanics are in line, Soto can show a fastball that reaches 95-96 mph from the left side, as well as a projectable slider that could be above-average once he completes his development. Both of Soto’s curveball and changeup are well below-average. Most scouts believe Soto projects best in the bullpen, but with his electric arm and potential hard slider, he could be a high leverage lefty reliever in the big leagues.

 

32. Eduardo Jimenez – Right-Handed Pitcher  

Finally all the way back from Tommy John surgery, Jimenez worked exclusively in relief during the 2016 season, finding time in 14 games for the short-season Connecticut Tigers. Working in relief suits Jimenez quite well as his electric fastball plays up to the 94-96 mph range consistently, with reports indicating he has even reached higher on occasion. An aggressive pitcher, Jimenez attacks the strike zone with his lively fastball and a curveball that flashes in the above-average to plus range. If the Tigers keep Jimenez in relief in 2017, he could burn through multiple levels and put himself in a position for a call-up in the second half of the 2018 season.

 

31. Zac Houston – Right-Handed Pitcher

Given an over-slot bonus of $190,000 as an 11th round pick in 2016, Houston made a quick impression by posting a 0.30 ERA in 29-2/3 innings split between short-season Connecticut and Low-A West Michigan. In addition to his sparkling ERA, Houston also piled up 49 strikeouts and allowed just 12 hits in less than 30 innings. Armed with good control of a fastball that reaches as high as 97-98 mph in short stints, and impressive size that leads to difficult angles, Houston can dominate hitters with just his fastball. Both his slurvy breaking ball and changeup need work, but even modest improvement with either pitch could leave Houston projecting as a potential setup reliever down the line.

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