Tigers Tackle Pacific Rim: For the first time in the organization's history, they have ventured into the Asian market to sign amateur players; inking 20-year old outfielder Chao-Ting Tang from Taiwan. The 5-11, 175 pound Tang has had limited exposure to US fans, only participating in the 2006 All-American Game. Scouting reports are varied on the lefty-hitting outfielder, but TigsTown has been able to gather that he displays all five tools at average to above-average levels. Like many Asian players, he has a knack for taking the ball the other way, and should hit for a solid average quickly. He can drive the ball from gap-to-gap, but does not project for much home run power. Tang's arm is above-average, and he has the instincts to man all three outfield positions.
Scouting Three Latin Pitchers: As previously reported by TigsTown, the Tigers had signed young right-handers Carlos Alvarez and Gino Aguirre, along with left-hander Rayni Guichardo. At 6-1, 175 pounds, and just 17-years old, Alvarez has the makings of a strong, hard-throwing righty. Carlos has a projectable frame with a quick arm, and a fastball that projects to get well into the 90s. He currently sits in the 88-90 range and that could spike quickly as he matures. His off-speed pitches are improving dramatically, particularly his breaking ball. Although slightly taller, Gino Aguirre is twenty pounds lighter than Alvarez, and doesn't have the projection on his fastball. He currently sits in the 86-89 range with his heater, and only projects to add a touch more velocity as he matures, likely peaking in the 91-93 range. Aguirre generates a good downward plane on his fastball, and has started to turn it over for some devastating sink. His change-up is very advanced for someone his age, and it projects as an above-average offering. Gino's curveball has made rapid strides and projects as a true plus pitch in time. Rounding things out on the mound, Rayni Guichardo is the youngest of the trio, as he will play nearly the entire 2008 season at just 16-years old. He has enough size that he projects to add 4-6 mph to his 85-88 mph fastball, and he already has an advanced breaking ball that projects as an above-average pitch with plus potential.
Two Catchers and Another Shortstop: The Tigers have been signing a litany of young catchers and shortstops in Latin America, and we now have the details on three more such players. Both Wilfredo Hoyer and Ricardo Olivo have good size for a catcher, with excellent potential for such young backstops. Olivo already has solid catch-and-throw skills, with a strong arm and a level of intelligence that belies his age. His bat will need to catch up, but there are some raw tools that carry promise at the plate. Hoyer has a very strong arm, firing rockets on throws around the infield. His frame is strong and athletic, with an excellent overall build for a catcher. His raw power at the plate is impressive, and he will just need to translate that to game action and round out his offensive game. After just turning 18, Alexander Nunez will look to make his pro debut this season, and he could see time a multitude of positions. Nunez has the defensive mentality and instincts to work throughout the infield, with the actions and arm strength to play well anywhere. His bat has potential, though his strike zone is loose and needs refinement.
A New Look at Zach Simons: Recently acquired from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for right-hander Jason Grilli, reliever Zach Simons could further strengthen the Tigers stock of young arms on the farm. Simons was a high-round choice out of community college by Colorado, and since moving to the bullpen, he has made strides to reach his potential. Coming into the pro game, Simons had flashed mid-90s heat and a slider with plus potential. Over time, Zach has settled into the 91-93 range with his fastball, generating good movement at the plate, with a clean, loose delivery. His command can escape him, but he has generally improved in this area. His slider still flashes as a plus pitch, but the consistency has yet to arrive. If he can begin to harness control of his breaking ball, he could make a giant leap forward as an electric late inning arm. Simons has toyed with a change-up with little or no success in the past.