TigsTown.com - Paul Wezner

Detroit Tigers Top Prospects - 2017 TigsTown Top 50: 30-21

Getting into prospects ranked within the top 30, the list starts to see some familiar names, including a few players moving in opposite directions, as prospects like Zac Shepherd try to find their place, while Grayson Grieiner had a strong rebound season in 2016.

30. Ulrich Bojarski – Outfielder    

The first player born in South Africa signed by the Tigers, Bojarski will make his Stateside debut in 2017 after signing over the summer. An absolute physical specimen, Bojarski is a high-end athlete with present strength and impressive raw tools. The tools that stand out most are his raw power and arm strength, both of which fit a classic right field profile, but his speed and defense both could rate better than average at the end of the day. At 18-years old, Bojarski is a raw hitter that must develop both his approach and bat-to-ball skills to maximize his tantalizing potential.


29. Isrrael De La Cruz – Shortstop   

Known more as a glove-first shortstop that will stick and excel at the position long term, De La Cruz shows an above-average arm, soft hands, an excellent first step and good range to both sides. His defensive game establishes his prospect value and will give him a chance to play in the big leagues, but his offensive game took a huge step forward in 2016. After putting on a reported 20 pounds of muscle, De La Cruz began to manifest his hit tool as he consistently drove the ball with more authority to all fields. His plus speed aids in legging out some hits, and there’s a chance De La Cruz could hit near the top of the lineup while providing exceptional defensive value.


28. Ildemaro Escalona – Shortstop        

One of the most exciting prospects in the Tigers organization, Escalona could be the club’s breakout star of the 2017 season and could be their next high profile, high ceiling Latin American prospect. Blessed with excellent present strength and bat speed, Escalona has above-average raw power and a chance to be a quality hitter at the highest level. He has the tools – plus run, 60 arm (flashes 70), quick hands/feet – to play shortstop long term, but there is some crudeness in his defensive game. If he can iron out the rough patches of his game, Escalona could be a dynamic two-way player.


27. Zach Shepherd – Infielder    

Shepherd’s stock has fluctuated throughout his professional career, peaking after a solid season in West Michigan in 2015. He struggled with High-A Lakeland in 2016, largely because of his aggressive approach at the plate, but he still shows a good feel for the barrel and the power potential to make an aggressive approach work if he can develop which pitches he consistently attacks. Defensively, Shepherd is not a lock to stay on the dirt, with many scouts suggesting he could ultimately end up in left field, putting even more pressure on his offensive profile.


26. Grayson Greiner – Catcher  

Coming off a hamate bone injury at the end of 2014, Greiner turned in a rough performance in 2015, before bouncing back by reaching Double-A with a solid performance on both sides of the ball. Greiner has pop in his bat when he stays short to the hitting zone, and he shows some aptitude for identifying pitches he can handle. He still struggles with velocity up in the zone, and that will likely always be a challenge for him. Defensively, Greiner looked better in 2016, and his pitchers in Double-A spoke highly of his ability behind the plate. Greiner’s above-average to plus arm strength plays down a tick because of a slow transfer, but he does enough other things well – including game calling, framing, and blocking – that he still profiles as a quality backup catcher at the big league level.


25. Bryan Garcia – Right-Handed Pitcher   

The club’s sixth round pick in 2016, Garcia should move quickly as a polished college reliever with excellent mound presence and a broad arsenal. Well built at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Garcia has good strength and arm speed that allows him to easily generate 92-94 mph velocity from a three-quarter arm slot. Backed by an above-average slider and passable curveball and changeup, Garcia can keep hitters off balance in a variety of ways. Despite his broad arsenal, Garcia profiles as a reliever in the seventh inning mold.


24. Wladimir Pinto – Right-Handed Pitcher    

Built like a strong, stocky linebacker, Pinto is the epitome of a high-octane reliever that could move quickly to the upper levels of the system. His fastball routinely sits at 95-97 mph with excessive life and he reportedly touched 100 mph on multiple occasions during the 2016 season. His curveball needs development but flashes as a hammer curveball with tight spin and sharp break, giving him a potentially dominant one-two punch on the mound. Pinto needs to harness his raw stuff, throwing more consistent strikes, but if he does that he could be a high leverage reliever in short order.


23. Jairo Labourt – Left-Handed Pitcher

One of three pieces shipped from Toronto to Detroit as part of the David Price trade in 2015, Labourt owns the tantalizing raw stuff to be on par with lefties Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd that also came over in that trade. Unfortunately, Labourt has increasing trouble controlling his low- to mid-90s fastball, and does not display consistency with his potentially above-average slider. The more Labourt continues to struggle with control and consistency, the more he looks like a boom-or-bust reliever.


22. Gerson Moreno – Right-Handed Pitcher  

Moreno burst on the scene in 2015 and continued his rise across two A-ball levels in 2016. A strong-bodied right-hander, Moreno generates impressive velocity from a high-effort delivery, consistently reaching 98 mph and touching 100-101 mph in several of my personal observations. He can struggle to find the strike zone at times, but when in and around the zone, he can overpower even the best hitters with his pure velocity and movement. Moreno’s slider is still under development but could become an average pitch. Moreno has the raw stuff to close at the highest level, and could be a good setup reliever even if his control/command doesn’t fully develop.


21. Victor Alcantara – Right-Handed Pitcher

Though Alcantara has started 67 games over the last seven seasons, he profiles strictly as a reliever for most scouts. Acquired in exchange for Cameron Maybin early this off-season, Alcantara should spend the 2017 season in the Toledo bullpen where his easy plus fastball and occasional plus slider could dominate minor league hitters. Alcantara is a good bet to reach the big leagues at some point during the upcoming season and he should start out by helping in middle relief and possibly the seventh inning, before budding into a more high-leverage reliever down the line. 


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