TigsTown Midseason Top 50 Countdown: 20-11

TigsTown continues its look at the Midseason Top 50, moving ever closer to the all important top 10 prospects, which debuts Friday. Today, we take a look at the prospects nearing that top group, that may just be a bit more development away from cracking that top 10.

20. Chris Robinson – C – TBD
The Tigers recently selected third round draft pick, Robinson has been called the Curtis Granderson of catching. Robinson isn't a phenomenal hitter or a spectacular behind the plate, but rather Robinson simply does everything well, which should project out well for him to be a solid major leaguer. Robinson has yet to be assigned anywhere, though it's likely he'll head to West Michigan.

19. Virgil Vasquez – RHP – Erie
Unlike the rest of his Erie teammates, Vasquez can't blow away opposing hitters. Vasquez's fastball sits around 90mph, and while he doesn't have a great out pitch, he commands his pitches very well, and gets by on location and out-smarting the hitters. Vasquez has continued to hit his spots through his promotion to Erie, as he's averaging just over a walk every nine innings for the season. The key for Vasquez will be for him to continue to prove he can get by without a major out pitch or a big fastball.

18. Jack Hannahan – 3B – Toledo
Hannahan saw his star dim some over the past few years, as he was unable to make the move up from AA Erie, spending three straight seasons there. He finally put up some offense in '04, prompting the Tigers to finally give him the bump up to Toledo. He hasn't disappointed so far, hitting .277/.348/.400 while providing strong defense at third. Of course, Brandon Inge likely limits Hannahan's chances of getting to Detroit in the near future.

17. Jair Jurrjens – RHP – West Michigan
The youngster from Holland has continued to impress in his first full season, as he did well enough to earn himself a berth in the Midwest League's All Star game. For the year, Jurrjens is 5-3 including a 3.71 ERA. Jurrjens is young, but doesn't throw incredibly hard, and must also overcome his smaller stature.

16. Matt Roney – RHP – Toledo
The former Rule 5 draft choice continues to work as the closer in Toledo after having been moved to the bullpen full time this season. After a brief start with Erie, Roney returned to Toledo, and has dominated in his appearances, carrying a 0.95 ERA in 14 appearances. Roney also has 27 strikeouts in 28 innings, and is likely only a few months away from returning to Detroit, this time for good.

15. Jeff Larish – 1B – TBD
The Tigers haven't even signed Larish yet, he was taken in the fifth round, and yet, he's already this high on the prospect list. Larish is an incredible power prospect, who likely would have been a first round pick if not for hiring agent Scott Boras, and eventually returning to school this past season rather than sign after being drafted as a junior. Assuming the Tigers get Larish signed (and without the option of returning to school, there's no reason for him not to sign), he should immediately make his presence known.

14. Kenny Baugh – RHP – Toledo
Despite having Sean Douglass called up to Detroit over him when the Tigers needed a fifth starter, Baugh still registers as one of the better pitchers in the organization, as he moves along in Toledo. While he has just five wins, his ERA is solid at 3.47, and he's started to regain some of the velocity he had lost after surgery. Baugh will get his chance in Detroit, and soon.

13. Juan Tejeda – 1B – Erie
Tejeda disappointed some by having a rough spring training, leaving the Tigers to keep him in Erie, where he got off to an extremely rough start. While he's started to come around, his first half numbers are still low, with only his 41 RBI impressing for a first base prospect. Hopefully, the second half will treat Tejeda better than the first half did.

12. Brent Clevlen – OF – Lakeland
Clevlen went from one of the top prospects in all of baseball after 2003 to out of the top ten in the organization in 2004 after the bottom fell out on him midway through the season. Clevlen had an incredible start to 2005, and while he's cooled off, he's still slugging .462, and even won the Florida State League's Home Run Derby. Now Clevlen will need to keep up his impressive hitting in the second half.

11. David Espinosa – OF – Toledo
It's not often that a corner outfielder can make it without hitting for a ton of power, but that is exactly the goal of David Espinosa. Espinosa was hitting .299/.397/.481 (the power was at least partially due to his hitter friendly home) before being called up to Toledo. Espinosa's not great defensively, but is very possibly the most patient hitter in the organization. And while he won't hit 30 homers, he hopes his gap power and patience will be enough to get him in the everyday lineup eventually.


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