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Detroit Tigers Top Prospects - 2017 TigsTown Top 50: Top Ten

The time has come - TigsTown releases its top ten prospects in the organization. See who won out as the top prospect in the organization between the pair of right handers that are recent first round picks!

Complete 2017 TigsTown Top 50

50-41: 2017 TigsTown Top 50: 50-41

40-31: 2017 TigsTown Top 50: 40-31

30-21: 2017 TigsTown Top 50: 30-21

20-11: 2017 TigsTown Top 50: 20-11

Other 2017 TigsTown Top 50 Coverage

Movers and Shakers: 2017 TigsTown Top 50: Movers and Shakers

Just Missed: 2017 TigsTown Top 50: Missing in Action

2017 TigsTown Top Ten

10. Jose Azocar – Outfielder     

A raw, multi-tool center fielder, Azocar has immense potential if he can translate tools to game skills. A gifted defender with strong instincts that are augmented by plus speed, excellent athleticism, and a plus throwing arm, Azocar can defend in center field over the long term. He has the speed to be an asset on the bases but is still developing his ability to read pitchers and get good jumps. At the plate, Azocar will swing at just about anything, giving pause to aggressive projection of his hit tool. He can catch up to good fastballs thanks to excellent bat speed, but his ability to adjust to spin and soft stuff remains suspect. If Azocar can refine his ability to recognize pitches and avoid chasing out of the strike zone, he could be a dynamic up-the-middle player.

 

9. Anthony Castro – Right-Handed Pitcher    

Back on the mound after missing the 2015 season following Tommy John surgery, Castro began to show impressive progress and gave the organization plenty of reason to be excited about his future. Blessed with easy arm strength from a loose delivery, Castro sits in the low-90s and bumps higher with his heavy fastball that shows tremendous life. When complimented with a potential plus breaking ball, Castro has the makings of a powerful two-pitch combination that can dominate hitters. His changeup remains a nascent offering, but could develop into a useable third pitch. Castro throws strikes with all of his pitches, and could still see increased velocity down the line, giving him the potential to evolve into an electric mid-rotation starter.

 

8. Kyle Funkhouser – Right-Handed Pitcher        

The Tigers fourth round pick last summer, Funkhouser’s stock has fallen from that of a former first round pick. After previously displaying an easy plus fastball and above-average breaking ball, Funkhouser’s stuff backed up during his senior year at Lousiville. Though he can still reach 95 mph with his fastball – which he did at times during his professional debut – he sits more comfortably in the 92-93 mph range with fringe-average command. The breaking ball and changeup both range from below-average to average, with the obvious inconsistency that is implied by such a statement. Funkhouser is built to eat innings, but his lack of a go-to pitch makes it difficult for him to navigate a lineup more than two times; limiting his effectiveness as he enters the middle to late innings. At the end of the day, barring an uptick in his raw stuff, Funkhouser profiles as a back-end starter with the durability to take the ball every five days on a consistent basis.

 

7. Tyler Alexander – Left-Handed Pitcher    

Alexander isn’t a flashy prospect that grabs headlines or wows onlookers, but he’s a quality starting pitcher that profiles as a back of the rotation starter. Though his fastball sits in the 89-90 mph range and reaches 92 when he reaches for a little extra, Alexander’s ability to command the pitch to the edges of the strike zone make him difficult to hit. He knows how to pitch, setting up his secondary pitches that he manipulates and moves around, including an ability to change the pace and shape of his breaking ball depending on his approach to attacking a given hitter and/or the game situation. Alexander is a classic touch and feel lefty with an unspectacular arsenal, but the command profile to back up his fringe offerings.

 

6. Derek Hill – Outfielder   

Health has not been on Hill’s side as a professional, having missed considerable time in each of his first two full professional seasons. While durability is a massive concern for Hill, when he’s healthy he can be a dynamic and exciting player. Some scouts believe Hill already shows as a double-plus defender in center field with preternatural instincts and feel for the position, gliding in all directions to chase down batted balls. He is a plus-plus runner with extreme athleticism and an average arm, making him a natural fit in the middle of the outfield. For his age, Hill displays a solid approach at the plate, though he gets overeager and will chase out of the zone at times, leading to a bunch of strikeouts. Hill has strength in his swing and the potential for good gap power at his physical peak; assuming his hit tool progresses to the point that he can make consistent enough contact. Hill’s glove will carry him through the minor leagues and possibly even the big leagues, but his bat will dictate whether he’s a reserve outfielder/defensive replacement, or a glove-first starter.

 

5. JaCoby Jones – Utility     

Acquired in the deal that sent Joakim Soria to the Pirates in 2015, Jones offers a tantalizing package of tools that draw attention when he’s on the field. A plus runner with a strong arm and excellent athleticism, Jones has the raw ingredients to be a contributing defender at a variety of positions, but he lacks the instincts to play on every day on the dirt, and may not have enough feel to handle center field consistently. His versatility, despite being a below-average to fringe-average defender at all positions, makes him an intriguing part-time player at the big league level. Jones has thump in his bat but a ton of swing and miss that limits the game utility of his power. Jones is likely a utility player at the big league level, but there are scouts that still believe he could be an intriguing regular if he sticks in center field.

 

4. Joe Jimenez – Right-Handed Pitcher    

Jimenez has rocketed from being a non-drafted free agent to one of the Tigers top prospects in a very short span; racing through the lower levels to reach Double-A and Triple-A in 2016. Though Jimenez must still develop his command and composure on the mound, he offers an electric mid-90s fastball that will touch 98 mph from a low-3/4 arm slot, and a slider that will flash plus. While he owns a changeup, he rarely uses it in short relief outings, instead focusing on his two primary offerings. With improved knowledge of how to attack hitters and keep them off balance, Jimenez’s electric one-two punch could allow him to pitch in high leverage situations at the big league level; possibly as early as late 2017.

 

3. Christin Stewart – Outfielder  

The Tigers best power hitting prospect, Stewart is a well-rounded offensive player with good knowledge of the strike zone, developing pitch recognition skills, and a willingness to work counts. Where he gets in trouble is trying to manipulate the barrel to make contact with breaking balls, leading to plenty of swing-and-miss in his game. When he connects, Stewart has easy plus raw power to all fields, and will flash even more to the pull side, giving him the potential for 20-25 home runs a season at the MLB level. Defensively, Stewart is a liability in the outfield with below-average speed, below-average arm strength, and poor instincts, giving him the look of a future designated hitter rather than left fielder. If Stewart’s offensive tools manifest at a high enough level, which they could, his defensive misgivings and potential to slot at DH may not matter.

 

2. Beau Burrows – Right-Handed Pitcher   

Burrows can be a divisive prospect within the scouting community, though he universally draws praise as a future big league starter, it’s just the degree to which folks like him that gets dicey. Most scouts view Burrows as a mid-rotation starter thanks for a strong 93-95 mph fastball that will reach higher, potential above-average curveball, and potential average changeup. Other scouts believe Burrows has the potential for a significant step forward with his command, giving them cause to project him more toward a #2 starter profile. At worst, Burrows is a durable starter that chews innings and goes on runs where he dominates the competition. Still likely three years away from the big leagues, Burrows’ development could go in a variety of directions.

 

1. Matt Manning – Right-Handed Pitcher

The Tigers top pick in June, Manning signed for a reported $3.5 million and turned in nearly 30 innings of work in the Gulf Coast League last summer. An extreme athlete that was slated to play both baseball and basketball in college, Manning has the potential to add strength to his frame, thus improving his strength and durability without sacrificing his athleticism. Manning’s fastball is electric, sitting around 94-95 mph and reaching as high as 98 mph during his professional debut. His command is a work in progress, but he threw plenty of strikes last summer, giving scouts hope that the command will come. Both Manning’s curveball and changeup have flashed potential as average or better offerings, but they need additional work to reach that peak. Manning has the raw ingredients to become a front line starting pitcher, and his profile represents the highest ceiling in the Tigers organization.

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