10. Brent Clevlen – Outfielder
Amazingly, Clevlen still qualifies for the list by the skin of his teeth. He still has the fine tools across the board, and a strong season at Toledo keeps him in the mix as a potential Major League option. Brent is out of options as we head to 2009, and will have to show enough to stick on the big league roster, or risk being passed through waivers.
9. Mike Hollimon – Second Baseman
Hollimon's horrible second half slump can at least partially be attributed to a bad left shoulder that required surgery after the season. Given that the injury was to his non-throwing shoulder, there is reason to suspect Hollimon will get back to his pre-surgery form as a switch-hitting middle infielder with good pop and above-average speed.
8. Alex Avila – Catcher
Avila bursts onto this list as the Tigers top all around catching prospect. He has an ability to work counts, draw walks, make contact on all types of pitches, find the gaps for doubles power, and play adequate defense behind the plate. That's the type of package the Tigers have been looking for, as they search for their long term catcher of the future.
7. Jeff Larish – First Baseman
The Tigers have Larish in the midst of a third base experiment in the AFL. The move is an attempt to become more versatile and find a way to get him on the big league roster to start next season. He has nothing left to prove at the minor league level, and his patient left-handed power bat is something sorely lacking in Detroit.
6. Brett Jacobson – Right-handed Pitcher
The third of the big four power arms from this year's draft class, Jacobson wowed scouts in the Midwest League when he walked in and immediately looked like the guy who was a sure fire first round pick coming out of the Cape Cod League in 2007. If Jacobson's command and arsenal stay at this level, he could be an elite reliever in short order.
5. Ryan Perry – Right-handed Pitcher
The Tigers first round pick in this year's draft, Perry could well see time in the Detroit bullpen in 2009. Though there is a slim chance he garners consideration as a starter, most are convinced he will remain a reliever, and thrive in such a role. Ryan hit triple digits on several occasions during the fall Instructional League, and it won't be long before he is wearing the Old English D at Comerica Park.
4. Casey Crosby – Left-handed Pitcher
After going down with a ligament tear in his elbow last fall, Crosby was back with a vengeance late this year. Back to pumping fastballs up to 97 mph, Casey has added bulk to his wiry frame, and his arm action looks improved. With additional game action, fans could be looking at a dynamic one-two punch in Crosby and Porcello.
3. Cale Iorg – Shortstop
There were large concerns about his ability to shake the rust off his game after two years away on a Mormon mission to Portugal, but things looked promising in his first full season back. Iorg displayed big league tools across the board, and could likely handle the defensive duties at the Major League level right now. As he continues to gain comfort in the batters box, Iorg will prove that he isn't too far away from being ready for Detroit.
2. Wilkin Ramirez – Outfielder
Wilkin Ramirez finally put together that huge breakout season people have been anticipating since his signing in 2003. In his first full season at Double-A Erie, Ramirez exploded for a .303/.365/.522 line for the Seawolves, and looks like the high level five-tool player people have been expecting for years.
1. Rick Porcello – Right-handed Pitcher
The clear number one prospect in a system that is only beginning to show life after being gutted last off-season, Porcello has true #1 starter potential. The Tigers aggressively pushed him to Lakeland at age 19, and he was dominant from start to finish, leading all league starters in ERA. With four above-average to plus pitches, and outstanding command, Porcello won't take long to get to Detroit, and may even be there at some point in 2009.