TigsTown Top 50: 40-31

The Top 50 countdown continues on Tuesday with the players that fell just outside of the top 30, in the 40-31 bracket.

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40. Audy Ciriaco – Shortstop
Ciriaco has been lauded for his potential since the moment he signed, and while being challenged at West Michigan this season, there were flashes of the great player he could become. The numbers may not be inspiring, but he has begun to mature in every aspect of the game. He is smoothing out defensively and beginning to make necessary adjustments at the plate.

39. Chris Lambert – Right-handed Pitcher
Lambert only made one appearance for Toledo after arriving from St. Louis in the Mike Maroth trade, but it will leave a lasting impression. He struck out ten in six innings as Toledo headed down the stretch run. Chris is very close to contributing at the Major League level, but that contribution may come in the bullpen rather than the starting rotation.

38. Casey Fien – Right-handed Pitcher
Coming out of Cal-Poly, the Tigers saw raw arm strength and a potentially dominating reliever down the line. It didn't take long for Fien to find his was in the bullpen. He dominated during his first exposure to full-season ball, carrying exceptional walk and strikeout rates while pitching critical innings during the ‘Caps championship run.

37. Lucas French – Left-handed Pitcher
French was given the opportunity to settle into one rotation for the first time in his young career, and he pitched very well for Lakeland in 2007. The owner of a promising arsenal, he must improve the consistency of his breaking pitches and remain more poised on the mound. He projects at the back of a rotation down the line, but some improvement is certainly needed.

36. Francisco Martinez – Third Baseman
Martinez is a recent signee out of Latin America, and despite his youth, he profiles as one of the better third base prospects in the system. He has solid all around tools and as his body continues to mature, he could become a serious hot corner prospect.

35. Brett Jensen – Right-handed Pitcher
Jensen teamed with Casey Fien to dominate the late innings for West Michigan in 2007. Working as the closer this year, Jensen's funky delivery and darting movement gave Midwest League hitters a very tough time. He may not have the prototypical power of a closer, but the results are impressive.

34. Noah Krol – Right-handed Pitcher
Yet another strong relief prospect in this part of the rankings, Krol has a devastating fastball-slider combination that is the prototype for late inning success. His bulldog mentality on the mound lends well to remaining poised in big spots. His trip to the Arizona Fall League speaks volumes of the organization's opinion of him.

33. Luke Putkonen – Right-handed Pitcher
Always praised for having loads and loads of potential, Putkonen was a gamble by the Tigers in the 2007 draft. He has the raw talent and frame to become an exceptional pitching prospect, but he lacks the polish and consistency needed to bring those skills to the fore. Working with the Tigers pitching instructors, look for Luke to make some quick strides in 2008.

32. Lester Oliveros – Right-handed Pitcher
The two-time TigsTown.com VSL Pitcher of the Year, Oliveros completely overmatched his young opponents in Venezuela. After such great success, Oliveros was called upon to pitch against much stiffer competition in the Venezuelan Winter League, and should make his stateside debut next spring.

31. Matt Rusch – Right-handed Pitcher
Rusch's impeccable command and surprisingly deceptive delivery allows him to confuse hitters and lock down the latter innings of any game. Working for Manager Matt Walbeck in 2007, Rusch demonstrated his extreme calm on the mound in even the biggest of situations.

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