TigsTown Midseason Top 50 Countdown: 30-21

One of the best signs to display that the Tigers farm system is slowly getting stronger and stronger is the presence of more legit prospects in the upper rungs. That is most evident in the 30-21 group, where quite a few talented players are being kept out of the top 20 by even better players in front of them.

30. Jeff Frazier – OF – West Michigan
It hasn't been quite the start he (and the organization) was hoping for in his first full pro season. Frazier is hitting just .240, while slugging a rather pedestrian .360. Frazier isn't a big guy, but was still projected to have good power after being an All American at Rutgers. Time will tell if that power comes around, especially once he's out of the unfriendly confines Fifth Third Ballpark.

29. Dusty Ryan – C – West Michigan
Ryan followed up an impressive debut with Oneonta with an extremely disappointing start in West Michigan. Even since heating up in June, he's still hitting just .160/.239/.228, and with the likely addition of Chris Robinson to the low A team, Ryan may return to Oneonta to get playing time as Robinson will likely get most of the playing time with the ‘Caps. Hopefully a return to the level at which he excelled will help get Ryan back on track.

28. Josh Rainwater – RHP – West Michigan
Despite being extremely talented coming out of high school as a fourth round pick, Rainwater didn't have a great start, especially in 2004, as he battled conditioning problems. He worked hard to resolve those problems in the offseason, only to suffer a knee injury that would sideline him for most of the first two months. But he's returned now and impressing for the most part, despite a 1-3 record, especially showing better control while keeping his velocity.

27. Brent Dlugach – SS – West Michigan
Dlugach was a sixth round pick just over a year ago, but had a slow start with Oneonta, struggling mightily offensively, and having some question his defensive capabilities as well. But Dlugach overcame those problems to become a Midwest League All Star in 2005, as he's second on the team in average and leading the team in doubles. Dlugach may not be quite the same talent as Tony Giarratano, but many factors lead to the two being compared.

26. Juan Francia – 2B/SS – Erie
14 months ago, everyone was ready to write off Francia as he was heading into his third season with West Michigan, this time as a utility man no less. But then Giarratano was promoted, opening up shortstop for Francia, and he went on to hit .320. He proved that wasn't a fluke with a start to this season with a .325 average and .399 on base percentage. That same success has continued since his promotion to Erie, and comparisons to Florida slap hitter Juan Pierre continue.

25. Dallas Trahern – RHP – West Michigan
Trahern wasn't even expecting to join the Tigers, that is not until Oklahoma fired its pitching coach, and Trahern reconsidered his commitment. Trahern put up spectacular numbers in his rookie year, but hasn't had quite the same success this year, with an alarming drop in his strikeout numbers. That still doesn't change the fact that he's only 19 and carrying a 3.30 ERA in full season baseball.

24. Vincent Blue – CF – Lakeland
It wasn't just the fact that his offense started to come around, but rather how it came around that has sky-rocketed Blue back up the charts. Blue, always loved for his raw ability, finally put some of that talent to use with a .313 average and an impressive 27 swipes on the basepaths. Blue's physical tools make him one to watch over the next couple years.

23. Kody Kirkland – 3B – Lakeland
Kirkland had a great start two years ago for Oneonta before tailing off. In 2004, that hot start never came around and Kirkland's numbers were consistently low. He had another hot start in '05 with Lakeland, but has started to cool off again. Despite the slowdown, he's still put up a .272/.330/.441 for the first half. Defense has been another problem.

22. Don Kelly – IF – Erie
When Kelly suffered a career threatening injury, his place among the organization's prospects simply evaporated with concerns that he'd never be able to return to the field, or at least never again in the same capacity that made him one of the top hitters in the organization two years ago. Kelly has been moving back and forth between shortstop and third base, and while struggling defensively, his .920 OPS has calmed any of those concerns that Kelly wouldn't be the same player he was prior to the injury.

21. Nate Bumstead – RHP – Lakeland
An impressive run in 2004 at Oneonta was written off because of Bumstead's experience, with claims that he'd come back to earth once facing tougher competition. Well, at some point he has to start struggling, and so far that still hasn't happened. Bumstead is 8-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 64 strikeouts. So long as Bumstead continues to dominate the opposition, he'll continue to climb his way up the Tigers prospect charts.

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