20. Alexis Espinoza – Outfielder
One of the most highly anticipated Latin prospects, Espinoza made his professional debut earlier this month on the heels of two very impressive VSL seasons. Espinoza has solid defensive tools and a strong arm, but it will be his bat that gets him noticed. Alexis possesses very good raw power, a good approach, and solid strike zone awareness, leading to an enticing offensive package.
19. Casey Fien – Right-handed Pitcher
Jim Leyland's impressions of Fien were well documented during spring training, and he's backed that up with a solid start to his third professional season. Jumping straight from West Michigan to Erie, Casey continues to use his low- to mid-90s fastball and solid breaking ball to lock down the late innings. With impeccable command and a tenacity about his approach, Fien is made for high-leverage situations.
18. Clete Thomas - Outfielder
Speed, defense, and a strong arm are the staples of Clete's game. He can go get it at any of the three outfield positions, and has one of the strongest arms in the system. At the plate he has some gap power, but his line drive swing and willingness to go the other way lends better to singles and creating chaos with a aggressive base running. Clete profiles as an excellent fourth outfielder and defensive replacement, with some potential to become a regular left or center fielder.
17. Scott Sizemore – Second Baseman
Sizemore is currently on the shelf with a significant wrist injury, but that shouldn't dampen too harshly your views of him. Scott is an offensive minded second baseman, with solid hands and a decent turn on the pivot. He has good gap power and can spray line drives from line to line. He is an average runner, but he's shown off outstanding instincts on the bases, to make him a 15-20 steal threat.
16. Darwin DeLeon – Left-handed Pitcher
The Tigers pushed DeLeon to short-season Oneonta for his first taste of stateside ball, and early returns after only two starts have been encouraging. His fastball has gained a tick and his command is still exceptional, which helps him cruise up this list as a young lefty worth watching.
15. Alfredo Figaro – Right-handed Pitcher
Every year the West Michigan fans get to see at least one pitcher explode onto the prospect landscape. This year, that pitcher is right-hander Alfredo Figaro. After struggling to move past spending his summers in short-season leagues, Figaro has gotten things going in a big way this year. With a fastball that can get up to 94-95, and very nice breaking ball, he probably profiles best in the bullpen down the line, but for now, he's mowing them down in the rotation.
14. Alex Avila - Catcher
The highest rated prospect from the 2008 draft that had signed at the time the rankings were finalized, Avila immediately becomes the organization's top catching prospect. He's only been catching full time for about a year, but he's showing signs that he may be able to stick behind the plate long term. His bat should play, as he has an exceptional approach, discerning eye, and good power to all fields. Avila was challenged with a full-season assignment right out of the gate, and holding his own in West Michigan could signal a player that will move quickly.
13. Freddi Dolsi – Right-handed Pitcher
To the surprise of many Tiger fans, Dolsi got the early call to help an ailing Detroit bullpen, and he has yet to look back. While he's had some rough patches, his mid-90s heat and above-average slider have been doing a number on big league hitters. If he can refine his ability to locate both pitches, he could be a devastating late inning option.
12. Jonah Nickerson – Right-handed Pitcher
The epitome of all grit, some stuff, Nickerson has incredible poise on the hill, to along with an intelligence that is rare among pitchers. He attacks hitters with a fringy arsenal that plays up because of his ability to throw strikes and generate movement at the bottom of the zone. He's going to have to prove himself at every stop, but he's a big game pitcher that has proven able to handle a heavy workload.
11. Wilkin Ramirez – Outfielder
Having long been considered a boom or bust prospect, Wilkin is finally healthy and got off to a blazing start at Double-A Erie. Wilkin has incredible speed, particularly from home-to-first, tremendous power potential, and an improving defensive skill set. His arm is strong, and he has worked diligently to improve his reactions and routes in the outfield. The next step for Wilkin – besides continuing to mash the ball – will be to tighten his strike zone. If that happens, the sky is the limit for this five-tool talent.