TigsTown Top 50: 50-41

The time has finally arrived! All week long, TigsTown will release its top 50 prospects, counting down from #50 all the way to #1. On Monday, TigsTown releases prospects 50 through 41.

#50 – Tom Thornton – Starting Pitcher
Despite being a recent addition to the Tiger system, Thornton has quickly established himself as one of the premier control lefties in the organization. Thornton's general package is a tick-below average, but his control is impeccable, as evidenced by only 16 walks in 133.2 innings between Oneonta and Notre Dame. His future may lie as a bullpen lefty, but the organization will give him chances to continue starting over the next couple of seasons.

#49 – Ricky Steik – Relief Pitcher
In a surprise move, the Tigers had Steik repeat the Midwest League in 2006, after pitching for Fort Wayne (Padres affiliate) in 2005. The move appeared to pay dividends, as Steik posted a 2.63 ERA while lowering his hit and walk rates, and cranking his strikeout rates up over ten per nine innings. Ricky is a big, hard-throwing right-hander who could move quickly if he can maintain control of his heavy, sinking fastball.

#48 – Tony Giarratano – Shortstop
Once thought of as a top prospect within the organization, Giarratano's stock has slipped dramatically over the last two years. After another season cut short by major injury (knee), Giarratano's future and prospect status are very much in flux. When healthy, Tony shows tremendous defensive abilities, and a great feel for the game. His offense needs work, but that will be hard to get if he cannot remain healthy and on the field.

#47 – Will Rhymes – Second Baseman
After a huge debut season with Oneonta in 2005, Rhymes fell on hard times in the much more difficult Midwest League. Rhymes has solid tools across the board and often plays above his abilities through grit and determination. He can get on base and cause trouble, while also flashing an above-average glove at the keystone position.

#46 – Angel Castro – Starting Pitcher
Don't be fooled by the fact that Castro started his professional career in the Dominican Summer League after being taken in the 13th round of this year's draft; he only started there because of problems attaining a work visa to come stateside for the summer. Castro has a true power arsenal, including a mid-90s fastball that bores in on righties. At age 23, he's older than many first year pros, but his power repertoire could allow him to move quickly through the system.

#45 – Deik Scram – Outfielder
The Tigers were pleasantly surprised when Scram opted to sign, rather than return for his final season of eligibility at Oklahoma State. Aside from having a tremendous baseball name, Scram is a multi-talented player, with enough speed and power to become a legitimate threat in all phases of the game. Deik's extremely raw, but his potential is too hard to ignore, and he could shoot up the prospect list with a strong start in 2007.

#44 – David Espinosa – Outfielder
Espinosa has long been thought of as a player with worlds of potential, who couldn't quite put it all together. The Tigers have limited his opportunities in recent seasons, and he appears to be stagnating without adequate playing time. He still has the potential to contribute in an outfield corner, but he is looking more and more like a 4th outfielder on a good team.

#43 – Alfredo Figaro – Relief Pitcher
Figaro came stateside after dominating the DSL competition in 2005, with a combination of great control and average stuff across the board. His 2006 was nearly as impressive, and he looks to be positioning himself for a quick rise through the minor leagues. His move to the bullpen has helped his velocity move a tick above average, and with improved command of his secondary pitches, he could move back to a rotation down the line.

#42 – Burke Badenhop – Starting Pitcher
In the midst of a season that surprised even the most astute prospect mavens, Badenhop caught the attention of the Tiger brass enough to win the organizations Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. Badenhop has fringy stuff, including a fastball that sits just a touch below average, but his control has improved and he's keeping his pitches down with regularity. He should be a solid minor league starter with the potential to reach the big leagues in a long relief role.

#41 – Luis Marte – Starting Pitcher
In much the same mold as Alfredo Figaro in 2005, Marte dominated the DSL to the tune of a 1.38 ERA and over 12 strikeouts per nine innings. The biggest difference is Marte's overall potential. With a fastball that sits in the 92-94 range, and can touch 96, Marte has the potential to become a serious pitching prospect in short order. Luis' future may reside in the bullpen, as his size and mechanics are less than ideal, but there is little doubt he has the arm strength to succeed.


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