#20 – Danilo Sanchez – Catcher
One year ago, Sanchez was a 6-year minor league free agent. Today, he's the top catching prospect in the Tigers system. After a season where Danilo put everything together at the plate, Sanchez is seen as having the potential to hit his way to the Major Leagues. Lackluster defense and an inconsistent offensive approach had held him back in the past, but if Sanchez continues to hit like he did this season, there will be a future for him at the next level.
#19 – Nate Bumstead – Starting Pitcher
Normally it would be a sign of a great minor league system that a pitcher with Bumstead's numbers ended up this low on a prospect list. That is not the case here. Despite dominating numbers with Oneonta in 2004, and Lakeland in 2005, Bumstead will still have to prove himself against more advanced hitters. With a fastball that barely reaches the upper 80s, Nate will always have doubters questioning his ability to advance. If Bumstead can continue to deceive hitters with his incredible movement, he will get every chance to make it to Detroit.
#18 – Virgil Vasquez – Starting Pitcher
Last year's TigsTown.com Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Vasquez never quite got it going in 2005. In spite of his continued success at limiting walks, Vasquez gave up a ton of hits this season, and those hits turned into a lot of runs. After an early season promotion to AA-Erie, Vasquez rode a roller coaster the rest of the way. With stellar starts followed by frequent drubbings, some are wondering if Virgil has what it takes to get hitters out at the higher levels. With a likely return to Erie in 2006, Vasquez will have the chance to show that a control-artist can succeed in the Eastern League.
#17 – Kenny Baugh – Starting Pitcher
Baugh continues his fight back from sever shoulder injuries, and appears to finally be on the verge of a shot at the big leagues. If not for some tenderness in his shoulder late in the year, Baugh would have made his Tiger debut in September. Baugh has probably been one of the most consistent pitchers in the organization over the last few seasons, and that consistency could lead to a spot at the back of the Tiger's rotation as soon as 2006.
#16 – Zach Miner – Starting Pitcher
Everybody talked about the hard throwing Roman Colon as the centerpiece of the Tigers bounty from the Kyle Farnsworth trade, but it may end up that Zach Miner is the better pitcher in the long run. Miner hasn't quite lived up to the promise he had showed coming out of high school, but he has still been a very effective pitcher at every stop. If Miner can improve even slightly on his present off-speed pitches, he could be in Detroit much sooner than most expect.
#15 – Dallas Trahern – Starting Pitcher
After jumping away from his commitment to Oklahoma to sign with the Tigers, Trahern absolutely dominated the Gulf Coast League in 2004. The 2005 season saw Dallas post impressive numbers once again, save for his strikeout rate. Trahern has taken the organizational pitching edict of "pitch to contact" to an extreme. Unless Dallas starts to strike batters out at a higher rate, he could struggle to maintain his success.
#14 – Matt Joyce – Outfielder
Probably the most surprising entry on this list, Joyce had an impressive debut with Oneonta. As he continued to display power, speed, average, and plate discipline, Joyce solidified himself as a very good offensive prospect. Matt will have to improve his defensive tools as he moves up the ladder, but his offensive game should excel at any level.
#13 – Wilkin Ramirez – Third Baseman
Despite his drop in the rankings, Ramirez is still an elite prospect. His high strikeout rate and struggles on defense led to the fall, but Ramirez displayed improved plate discipline as the season went on, and also showed good power for a young player in a tough league. Wilkin could return to West Michigan in 2006, but based on his progress at the end of the season, it may behoove the organization to challenge the talented youngster with an assignment to Lakeland.
#12 – Tony Giarratano – Shortstop
As many had hoped, Giarratano got a shot in the big leagues this season. Unfortunately, it went terribly wrong. Tony struggled both at the plate and in the field, and showed that he has some significant holes to close before he's ready for the next step. Giarratano is still a good prospect, but he will need to rebound in 2006 to keep hopes alive that he can take over for Carlos Guillen in the coming years.
#11 – Kyle Sleeth – Starting Pitcher
It's amazing how quickly we can go from saying "He could be in Detroit very quickly," to saying "If he recovers from surgery…." After undergoing Tommy John surgery during the summer, Sleeth will be looking to return to his pre-injury form. If Kyle is able to regain his top notch "stuff," he could jump right back up this list, and maybe even jump quickly up to Detroit.