TigsTown Top 50: 40-31

TigsTown officially kicks off its release of the organization's Top 50 prospects with a week long, five part series, releasing ten prospects each day, leading all the way to the debut of the top prospect in the organization. Tuesday, we examine prospects 40-31.

#40 – Kevin Ardoin – Starting Pitcher
Another recent draftee, Ardoin immediately joined the West Michigan bullpen upon signing. Kevin handled the challenge of A-ball very well, and the organization will look to have him return to a starter's role in 2006. Ardoin's arsenal will never overwhelm anyone, but he commands three pitches very well, which may result in some speedy promotions.

#39 – P.J. Finigan – Starting Pitcher
Finigan joined Kevin Ardoin in the West Michigan bullpen shortly after draft day, and experienced similar success. PJ is an extremely athletic player who starred as both a pitcher and a shortstop in college. Much like Ardoin, Finigan will likely move back into the starting rotation in 2006, where the Tigers hope he can become more polished and move quickly up the ladder.

38 – Josh Kauten – Starting Pitcher
Josh has flown below the radar since joining the Tigers in 2004. After posting solid, if unspectacular numbers with Oneonta after being drafted, Kauten made the jump to the pitcher friendly Midwest League (and eventually Lakeland), where he continued to demonstrate that he could get hitters out. Kauten profiles as a workhorse-type pitcher, who could provide a rotation with tons of effective innings.

#37 – Erik Averill – Starting Pitcher
After helping Arizona State play deep into the College World Series, Averill debated long and hard about whether to sign with the Tigers, or return for his senior season with the Sun Devils. Averill opted to sign, and based on his results with the GCL Tigers, it appears to have been a good decision. A soft-tossing lefty, Averill will have to remain crafty and deceptive to maintain his success at higher levels.

#36 – Brian Rogers – Relief Pitcher
Rogers is certainly not what you picture when you think of a prospect. A right-hander whose fastball could barely break a pane of glass, Rogers is a control artist and a thinking man's pitcher. Brian continually baffles hitters in the late innings of games, and if he can maintain his control and movement, he could be successful at the higher levels.

#35 – Audy Ciriaco – Shortstop
The Tigers may have helped reverse their lackluster success in attracting top-flight Dominican talent with the signing of Ciriaco. A very raw player, Audy has the athleticism and overall tools to become an incredible talent. Some question his ability to remain at shortstop, but the Tigers will give him every chance before moving him over to third or the outfield. If Audy's bat and strike zone judgment can continue developing, he could fly up this list over the course of the next year.

#34 – Alexis Gomez – Outfielder
All the talk surrounding the Tigers finding a speedy outfielder to help fill the void in centerfield centered on Curtis Granderson and Nook Logan. Well, Alexis Gomez should probably be considered in the discussion, at least in a reserve role. Gomez has better offensive tools than Logan, and is comparable defensively. If the Tigers finally tire of Logan's offensive ineptitude, Gomez could be in Detroit as a reserve outfielder in 2006.

#33 – Humberto Sanchez – Starting Pitcher
I'm sure you're wondering how Sanchez fell this far in the rankings, right? Well, you can have all the movement and velocity you want, but if you don't know where the ball is going and you are unable to remain healthy, your prospect star quickly becomes tarnished. Sanchez has a very good chance at shooting back up this list next season, but he will have to begin showing some improvement first.

#32 – David Espinosa – Outfielder
Espinosa is another player who plummeted in this year's rankings. After a sensational first half, where Espinosa displayed some added power, tremendous plate discipline, and improved defensive instincts, things unraveled quickly. After a well deserved promotion to Toledo, the organization decided that DeWayne Wise was more worthy of the at-bats in the Mudhen's lineup. This time on the bench and a nagging injury killed Espinosa's season. The maddening inconsistency and general stagnation of his progress have left Espinosa falling on most prospect charts.

#31 – Ramon Garcia – Pitcher
Some players just pop up out of nowhere at times, and Garcia is one of those players this season. After finally coming stateside, Ramon posted some intriguing numbers with the GCL Tigers. Despite lacking a dominating pitch or outstanding control, Garcia continues to get hitters out. Without the development of a true "go-to pitch," Garcia's future will likely be in a situational relief role.

On Wednesday, TigsTown will release prospects 30 through 21.

Questions? Comments? Contact TigsTown's Minor League Editor at Mark@TigsTown.com. Or post a question for Mark and the TigsTown staff on the Message Board.

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