TigsTown.com - Roger DeWitt

22 Detroit Tigers Prospects Coming Stateside in 2017

Each year the Tigers consider a host of factors as they decide which young players to bring to the United States for their first taste of stateside professional baseball. This decision making process can have long-term impacts on the development of these players, and the decisions are not made lightly within the Tigers organization.

Over the last two years, the decisions were complicated by the absence of the Venezuelan Summer League; an absence that has left the Tigers with one team in the Dominican and two teams in the Gulf Coast League. This results in a deeper dive as more players may need to come over to balance rosters and make sure all priority prospects get their share of time on the field to continue their growth.

 

This year’s decision making resulted in 22 players preparing to head to the States for the first time and all of them will debut in either the Gulf Coast League or the New York-Penn League when those groups begin play next month.

 

Infielders

 

Name

Height/Weight

Date of Birth

Country

Ildemaro Escalona

6-0/170

2/12/1999

Venezuela

Melvin Ramos

5-11/155

12/26/1998

Dominican Republic

Jose Quero

6-0/190

9/5/1998

Venezuela

Mike Torres

5-10/140

2/10/1998

Venezuela

Jorge Ynirio

5-11/170

10/19/1997

Dominican Republic

 

As usual, the Tigers have a host of infielders to manage from their Latin American programs, as the organization continues to value up-the-middle tools as part of their signing strategy. Headlining this crew is shortstop prospect Ildemaro Escalona, ranked #28 on the TigsTown Top 50 Prospects entering the season, and believed to be one of the Tigers more exciting Latin American prospects. Offering a robust package of tools, Escalona is a 60 runner that can peak with even better speed once underway, and offers a 70-grade arm from shortstop. He’s still refining his defensive actions but most scouts give him a chance to stick at the position thanks to his athleticism and raw ability. Offensively, Escalona offer good bat speed, some feel for contact, and the ability to drive the ball at a young age.

 

None of Ramos, Torres, or Ynirio showed much with the bat in their respective leagues last summer, but all three offer some intrigue as athletes with raw ability on the field. Ynirio is the veteran of the group, offering solid defense and a strong arm on the infield, and he has a chance to contribute to his GCL club this summer. Ramos and Torres will be tested by the jump to the States, so success may not be measured in on-field performance this summer.

 

Jose Quero marks an intriguing prospect to follow this summer on the heels of a monster campaign in the DSL last year where he hit .335/.459/.425 in 55 games as the team’s primary first baseman. A thick-bodied teenager, Quero will have to watch his conditioning as he gets older, but as his frame suggests, he can slug the ball, showing some of the best raw power of all the Tigers young Latin American prospects. Quero is a natural hitter with an immense amount of confidence in his ability. He is not intimated by anything in the box and has shown an ability to handle big velocity, breaking stuff, left-handers, right-handers, really anything you can throw at him. Quero should be an offensive force for one of the Tigers GCL clubs this summer, and even as a teenager, he could force his way to Connecticut for a taste later in the year.

 

Outfielders

 

Name

Height/Weight

Date of Birth

Country

Darwin Alvarado

6-1/170

11/10/1998

Venezuela

Ulrich Bojarski

6-3/190

9/15/1998

South Africa

Juan Ramirez

5-9/160

4/9/1999

Dominican Republic

Santiago Vital

6-2/145

1/15/1999

Venezuela

 

Headlined by South African born Ulrich Bojarski, the outfield crop should be very interesting for Tigers fans this summer. Bojarski is a big time athlete with tools across the board and a chance to develop into an impact player. A very physical teenager, Bojarski already looks the part of a high-end talent. Bojarski is a raw player but is quickly showing improved feel for the game, and with that development he could put his average speed, average arm, and plus raw power to good use in game action.

 

Alvarado, Ramirez, and Vital were teammates on last year’s DSL club, with Ramirez showing out with a strong performance on the field, including a .297 average and nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts on the season. Not a high profile player, Ramirez continues to perform in game action, showing an advanced approach at the plate, excellent defensive instincts in center field and a plus arm. The biggest knock on Ramirez is his small stature, a problem Alvarado does not run into very often, showing a more physical frame that is likely bigger than his listed 6-foot-1, 170 pounds. Another good center fielder, Alvarado doesn’t blow you away with tools, but has tremendous instincts in every phase of the game.

 

Catchers

 

Name

Height/Weight

Date of Birth

Country

Pedro Hurtado

5-11/160

3/1/1999

Venezuela

Gresuan Silverio

6-0/175

1/5/1999

Dominican Republic

 

Hurtado and Silverio represent an interesting contrast when placed side-by-side in a discussion like this. Given a $300,000 signing bonus as an amateur and widely considered one of the better young catchers in his free agent class, Silverio was expected to reach this stage of his career quickly; preparing to make his Stateside debut as an 18-year old. Hurtado on the other hand was not highly sought after, signing for just $77,000 and looks to make his Stateside debut on the heels of a season that saw him hit just .188 in 42 DSL games last summer.

 

Silverio is a solid switch hitter with average power potential to all fields and a chance to develop into a quality hitter that can be an everyday force in the lineup. His defense earns strong reviews at this stage of his career, including soft hands and a potential plus arm, though some scouts were concerned about his ability to handle high-velocity pitchers as he advanced. On the other hand Hurtado lacks raw tools but still impresses coaches and scouts with his composure and his development to date. Known most for some intriguing power potential from both sides of the plate, Hurtado could surprise some onlookers this summer.

Right-handed Pitchers

 

Name

Height/Weight

Date of Birth

Country

Eddy Castro

6-1/165

5/2/1995

Dominican Republic

Sandel De La Cruz

6-2/185

8/6/1996

Dominican Republic

Enrique De Pena

6-2/175

2/19/1996

Dominican Republic

Edgar Escalona

6-4/195

3/30/1998

Venezuela

Julio Guante

6-3/180

5/29/1997

Dominican Republic

Miguel Paulino

6-1/185

8/21/1998

Dominican Republic

Perkyn Rodriguez

6-1/165

5/6/1998

Venezuela

Unlike years past, few of the arms the Tigers are bringing to the States will standout based on past performance or exceptional scouting reports, but that shouldn’t diminish some of the attention they get this summer. Signed as an extremely promising young arm, Eddy Castro will make his Stateside debut following a 2016 professional debut at 21-years old. Castro has been derailed by injuries during his first couple of seasons, but showed promise again last year. Offering a low-90s fastball with the potential for more, Castro began to show a potential above-average curveball late last year. There’s precious little wiggle room for Castro to make a name for himself and stay on the prospect radar thanks to his injuries, but making an impression out of the gate in the GCL could help give him a boost.

 

Miguel Paulino profiles as a potential reliever with a fastball that reached as high as 94 mph last year and could see a small bump with another year of physical development under his belt. Where Paulino must focus his development in Lakeland this summer is his ability to control his electric fastball, and improving his power breaking ball. Similar to Paulino, both De Pena and Rodriguez offer potential power arms and their control can hinder their effectiveness.

 

Sandel De La Cruz is a bit of an unusual case having signed his first professional contract as a 21-year old over the winter. Late developing talents like De La Cruz are rare in today’s game, as most players with any hint of ability have been scooped up as teenagers, but the Tigers believe they may have found an interesting young arm capable of jumping straight to the GCL this summer.

 

Left-handed Pitchers

 

Name

Height/Weight

Date of Birth

Country

Jake Baker

6-2/200

6/12/1998

Australia

Alfredo Silva

6-3/180

7/27/1998

Venezuela

Richard Terrero

6-6/220

9/9/1997

Dominican Republic

 

The high profile name among the left-handers is Australian Jake Baker. A physical guy that will debut just after his 19th birthday, Baker can run his fastball up to 91-92 mph at times, and will work in the 88-90 mph range during longer outings. Some scouts believe Baker has a chance to find additional velocity after acclimating to the rigors of the professional game, and a velocity bump would play well with his potential plus breaking ball. Projected by most as a reliever, Baker will need to tighten his control as well.

 

Silva could put up some shiny numbers in the GCL this summer thanks to advanced pitchability for his age. Blessed with a prototypical pitcher’s body, he looks the part coming off the bus, but his raw stuff doesn’t stand out during game action. With a fastball that sits in the 86-87 mph range, Silva keeps hitters off balance with his command and potential plus changeup. His curveball continues to develop and will flash average, and the combination of his three-pitch mix and command make him a potential nightmare for GCL hitters. With his frame and athleticism, there is some hope that Silva’s velocity will sneak closer to 90 mph down the line.

 

Signed late last summer as another potential late bloomer, Terrero stands in at a massive 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, cutting an imposing figure on the mound. There’s a lot of work to be done here, but Terrero’s physicality makes him an intriguing follow during his professional debut.

*Note: The 22nd player the Tigers were bringing Stateside for the 2017 season was right-handed pitcher Jesus Paricaguan. Paricaguan was in the States, participating in extended spring training, but was recently released by the organization. 


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