Cleat Geeks

Tiger Time: Prospect Pipeline

For the first time in what feels like an eternity, the Detroit Tigers have some pieces to be proud of in their farm system.

With the release of the latest Baseball America’s mid-season minor league prospect rankings, it was revealed that three Tigers farmhands made the list, something that also hasn’t happened for seemingly an eternity. But even outside of the top 100 there is reason to be excited about some of the young names developing in the wings.

Let’s take a look at some of the names you should know.

Top 100 Related image

Alex Faedo, RHP (#53)

MLB Pipeline Ratings

Fastball: 60

Slider: 65

Changeup: 50

Control: 50

Overall: 55

The 18th overall pick in this year’s MLB draft, Faedo already looks like the Tigers #2 starter of the future to slot right alongside resident ace Michael Fulmer.

The big righty (6’5″, 225 pounds) was a force for the University of Florida’s national championship team this past season, posting an ERA of 2.89 while holding opponents to a .223 clip. For his career at Florida (three seasons) he posted a 26-6 record with a career ERA of 3.09, striking out 298 batters while opponents managed to hit just .229 against him. His control is impeccable, issuing only 67 walks over his three collegiate seasons.

He brings a solid fastball to the table, topping out in the range of 92-95 mph with sinking movement as the season wore on for Florida. His out pitch is his slider, which has been considered one of the best that scouts have seen at the college level in some time, providing a lot of movement with an 87 mph bite. His changeup and control rate on the lower end, leaving him room for improvement on his command. At 21, to already be your organization’s top prospect is a lot of hype and pressure. Fans will wait with bated breath to see their new star pitcher emerge within the next season or two.

Matt Manning, RHP (#79)Related image

MLB Pipeline Ratings

Fastball: 65

Curveball: 60

Changeup: 50

Control: 50

Overall: 55

The 19-year old Manning was the Tigers’ first round selection in the 2016 draft, going with the 9th overall selection. A lanky, 6’6″, 190 pound righty, Manning is possible the farthest away from the Major Leagues of any of the names on this list. But if his current progress is any indicator that could be changing quickly.

Currently playing short-season A ball for the Connecticut Tigers, Manning is currently nothing short of lights out, posting a 1.65 ERA and striking out 18 batters over 16.1 innings of work in four starts. His fastball is his bread and butter, sitting comfortably in the 96-97 mph range. An above-average curveball also generates swings and misses, while his changeup, by all accounts, could shape up to be a reliable third pitch in his arsenal. And his WHIP of 1.22 isn’t awful, either.

There’s a lot to be done with Manning. And that’s okay, considering he’s only 19 years old. With two dominant pitches already established, his future is bright.

Beau Burrows, RHP (#80)Related image

MLB Pipeline Ratings

Fastball: 60

Curveball: 55

Slider: 45

Changeup: 50

Control: 50

Overall: 50

Fresh off of an appearance in the Futures Game in Miami, the 20-year old Burrows is the lowest entry on Baseball America’s list for the Motor City Kitties, but that’s no slight by any means.

Burrows was lights out to begin the season for High A Lakeland, posting a 1.23 ERA (0.95 WHIP) with 62 strikeouts in 58.2 innings over 11 starts. Obviously ready for more, Burrows jumped up to AA Erie after his hot start, where he has since come back down to earth. Through a relatively small six start sample size, Burrows has posted an ERA of nearly 5.60 (18 ER) with a decreased strikeout rate, along with a 1.69 WHIP. His number of walks issued has also spiked, giving up 16 already.

But Burrows has promise. His 94-95 mph fastball, his highest rated pitch, will be his bread and butter, with breaking pitches (curveball and slider) rated lower, the Tigers bank on these ideally coming along as he receives coaching and continues to put in work. Command will also need work as he continues to move on up.

 

Others You Should Know

Christin Stewart, OFImage result for christin stewart tigers

MLB Pipeline Ratings

Hit: 50

Power: 55

Run: 40

Arm: 45

Field: 40

Overall: 50

While he made ESPN analyst Keith Law’s top ten list of Tigers prospects, Stewart has not garnered the prestige of landing on Baseball America’s list. Which is no slight to him, mind you.

Described by Law as “an everyday left fielder” and an above average power hitter, Stewart has put up very solid numbers for the AA Erie SeaWolves. In 85 games he’s posted a .268/.346/.533 slash line, with 19 home runs and 62 RBI while drawing 36 walks. Other extra base power has been shown, with 17 doubles and three triples. Conversely, we’ve seen the inexperienced side of Stewart as well, as he’s struck out 93 times in 302 at-bats.

Looking at these numbers alone it’s easy to see some of Justin Upton in the 23-year old prospect. And it’s likely that we see him taking Upton’s spot within the next couple of years as the team looks to get younger.Image result for mike gerber baseball

Mike Gerber, OF

MLB Pipeline Ratings

Hit: 50

Power: 45

Run: 50

Arm: 50

Field: 50

Overall: 45

At 25, Gerber is older than most on this list. But even by next year it’s possible that he’s on the Major League roster.

Patrolling right field in Erie opposite Christin Stewart in left, Gerber has been solidly productive for the SeaWolves, hitting at a .292 clip while reaching base at an even higher .366 rate, aided by the 31 walks he’s drawn in 73 games. His 69 strikeouts are relatively low, putting him at less than a strikeout per game. He’s not your typical power hitter (7 home runs) but he has some pop in his bat, evidenced by the 19 doubles and one triple he’s registered thus far. He has some speed, swiping eight bases while being caught six times. Given his attributes, his overall scouting grade is misleading.

While he’s not going to be J.D. Martinez in right field for Detroit, Gerber is certainly a viable and likely in-house option to take the spot as the rebuild begins and beyond.Image result for kyle funkhouser tigers

Kyle Funkhouser, RHP

MLB Pipeline Ratings

Fastball: 60

Slider: 50

Curveball: 45

Changeup: 45

Control: 50

Overall: 45

Aside from being possible the greatest actual name on this list (if you told anyone that you’d never wear a jersey that reads “Funkhouser” on the back, you’re lying to both them and yourself), the big (6’2″, 220 pounds) 23-year old righty is a candidate to serve on what will likely be one the best young rotations in baseball in a few years.

Initial scouting reports showed that Funkhouser was inconsistent, with inability to maintain his top 93-94 mph fastball velocity through his starts. Thought it’s possible that his 2017 showing so far has assailed any doubts. After posting a respectable ERA just above 3.00 at A West Michigan, Funkhouser has dominated in five starts since jumping to High A Lakeland, posting an ERA of 1.72 to go with a WHIP of 0.93, while striking out 34 batters in 31.1 innings of work. He currently sits on the 7-day DL The potential is there for him to be a key rotation piece.

His fastball rates higher than any given pitch, though his breaking pitches are in need of some work. But at 23, there’s time to make sure those develop properly. It’s up to him and those who coach him to help maintain this level of effectiveness as he climbs the ladder.

Which prospects are you most excited to see arrive in Detroit? Any other prospects that aren’t listed here that you think were snubbed? Let me know in the comments below!

Find me on Twitter @milz_chris and follow @cleatgeeks for more baseball and sports news.

 

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