TigsTown Midseason Top 50: 30-21

Day three brings about more surprises in the 21-30 rankings, as quite a few players that just a year ago found themselves near or in the top ten have fallen on hard times and now see themselves well below their once lofty projections. Who are they?

30. Sendy Vasquez – Starting Pitcher
Sendy leaps onto the list, just cracking the top thirty on the virtue of some added fastball velocity and better command than he had previously displayed. He still lacks the secondary pitches necessary to remain in the rotation, but his ceiling is high if he can develop only average ones.

29. Jonah Nickerson – Starting Pitcher
Nickerson will join the Tigers now that the College World Series is complete, and he could surprise many once he starts logging innings in the system. He's got several average to slightly above, pitches, and he commands them well. Look for him to dominate the low minors.

28. Nate Bumstead – Starting Pitcher
Nate falls only because of some players leap-frogging him on the list. He's pitched well, but his velocity is down a touch and he isn't controlling his pitches well. He needs to regain the control he demonstrated in 2004 and 2005 to remain in the rotation. He'd be a great long reliever if things continue along this path.

27. Jordan Newton – Catcher
The Tigers brought on board a freak athlete when they drafted Newton. While he played catcher in college, and will continue to do so in the early stages of his pro career, he could move to an outfield corner where his athleticism, instincts, and bat should all play well. He's a wild card, but he could shoot up the list if the transition to wood bats goes smoothly.

26. Kyle Sleeth – Starting Pitcher
Sleeth continues to fall rapidly on this list, and many others. He's now battling shoulder problems after just coming back from Tommy John surgery. He needs a stretch of good health to get back on track and re-establish himself. His star is dimming by the day, and he's on the verge of going the way of Justin Thompson, Kenny Baugh, and Matt Wheatland.

25. Will Rhymes – Second Base
Rhymes holds strong on the list, despite some apparent struggles at West Michigan. He's still controlling the strike zone extremely well, his driving the ball from gap to gap, and showing very good base-stealing instincts. Combined with improved (possibly surprising) defense, and he's working hard to make himself a legitimate middle infield prospect.

24. Erik Averill – Pitcher
Averill rides to this ranking on the organization's decision to keep him in the rotation. He lacks the raw stuff of many of our top pitchers, but his command is superb and he's wise beyond his years. He profiles in much the same mold as Mike Maroth, minus a touch of velocity. He could remain high if he remains a starter.

23. Tony Giarratano – Shortstop
A once promising shortstop prospect, Giarratano is fading badly. He has struggled to hit for average, draw walks, or hit for any power, and he continues to rush routine plays in the field. He's begun stealing bases with regularity, but he must start hitting a little bit if he's to amount to more than a slick fielding backup.

22. Scott Sizemore – Second Base
Despite a down collegiate season in 2006, Sizemore garnered plenty of attention come draft day. The Tigers love his stick and believe he can continue to develop more power as he matures. His defense is average, but he works hard and should be an adequate defender at any infield position. If his bat continues to develop, he's got Marcus Giles written all over him.

21. Matt Joyce – Outfielder
Joyce falls a bit on the list after a lackluster start to his first taste of full-season ball. His plate discipline is alive and kicking, and his power is starting to come around in a tough hitter's environment. A huge second half should re-establish him as one of the more under-rated outfield prospects in the system.


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