#10 – Jordan Tata – Starting Pitcher
With Todd Jones hurting to start the season, Jordan Tata made the giant leap from Lakeland to Detroit in an instant; and he equipped himself quite well during his brief tenure with the team. Tata's top two pitches are his fastball and cutter, both of which he can usually command low in the zone. With a breaking ball and change-up that have lagged behind, he could become a full time reliever once he gets to the big leagues for good; possibly as soon as Opening Day 2007.
#9 – Gorkys Hernandez – Outfielder
Gorkys' GCL debut at age 18 was an out-and-out success; there's no other way to put it. Hernandez ranked first in the league in runs, hits, and batting average, while finishing in the top ten in homers, steals, and slugging. The native Venezuelan has huge potential, and could establish himself as an elite prospect as soon as next season. Watch out folks; this kid is going to be good.
#8 – Michael Hollimon – Shortstop
Though there are many doubters of Hollimon's ability, simply because he has been older than his competition the last two years, there is little doubt he has done what was expected of him in those scenarios. Hollimon has always had elite tools, and it seems he is now putting them to good use on the diamond. There is a slim chance he could vault to Erie to start the next season, and that would put him amongst his peers, where he can be truly evaluated.
#7 – Brent Clevlen – Outfielder
Clevlen's cameo in Detroit was a rousing success, and has many believing he could be the next big thing in Detroit. Some caution should be held however; as he hasn't demonstrated the consistency or ability to adjust in the minor leagues to suggest his time in Detroit was anything more than a fluke. Brent's always had very nice tools; he just needs to figure out how to use them every day. A trip to Toledo for the majority of the 2007 season would likely do him very well.
#6 – Kevin Whelan – Relief Pitcher
Whelan may still be relatively new to pitching, but the results say otherwise. The hard-throwing righty has been dominant during his two years in the minor leagues, and he projects to continue improving as he learns the nuances of the game. Whelan has a powerful fastball and two variations on a devastating split-finger. That type of arsenal screams "Future Closer!" and the Tigers are expecting big things from him in the near future. Imagine a combination of Zumaya, Rodney, and Whelan at the backed of games; just think about it for a minute.
#5 – Humberto Sanchez – Starting Pitcher
Some things never change with Humberto. When he is healthy, he is an absolutely dominating pitcher, as evidenced by his performance in the Futures Game where he manhandled three of the games elite prospects; striking out Arizona's Stephen Drew and KC's Alex Gordon, and getting the Angels' Howie Kendrick to ground out weekly. Unfortunately, an inability to stay healthy is another thing that never changes with Sanchez. Look for his Major League debut in 2007.
#4 – Jeff Larish – First Baseman
Larish was a collegiate superstar at Arizona State, and he supplies the organization with exactly what it's missing; power and patience. Larish has light-tower power in his bat, and an excellent approach at the plate. He's improving around the bag at first, and did very well in his first full season in pro ball, after being challenged with an assignment to Lakeland. Larish will start the season at Erie, and could see Toledo before things are done.
# 3 – Jair Jurrjens – Starting Pitcher
It's taken a while for many fans to realize that Jurrjens is a youngster worth their attention, but he forced everyone to take notice in 2006. After a great start to the season at Lakeland, Jurrjens was promoted to AA-Erie, where he scarcely missed a beat. At only 20-years old, Jair was able to dominate players that were regularly 3-4 years his elder; and that bodes very well for his future. Its likely Jurrjens will take his 93-95 mph fastball back to Erie to start the 2007 campaign.
#2 – Andrew Miller – Starting Pitcher
The 2006 draft saw the Tigers land the top player available and boy were they thrilled. Not only does Miller fill the Dave Dombrowski profile of a pitching prospect, but he fills a growing organizational need of left-handed pitching. Miller was dominant down the stretch for the UNC Tarheels, leading them to the College World Series finale. After a lengthy contract negotiation, Andrew dominated his foes in Lakeland, and made his Major League debut late in August. He should be back in Detroit at some point next season.
#1 – Cameron Maybin – Outfielder
Maybin's debut couldn't have gone any better, and exceeded any reasonable expectations. Despite hitting in a very tough offensive environment, Maybin finished in the top five in the Midwest League in steals, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS; all that while missing nearly a month due to a finger injury. Maybin's defense is already Major League caliber, and his offense doesn't appear to be too far behind. Expect him to reach Erie sometime this season, and don't be surprised if he gets a cup of coffee in September.