Projecting the Next 5 Pivotal Detroit Tigers Minor League Call-Ups
The Tigers have had to rely on many minor league call-ups throughout the 2012 season.
From Luke Putkonen to Thad Weber to Brayan Villarreal and to Quintin Berry, the Tigers have needed the contributions of many players who started the season playing minor league ball.
It is impossible to predict the exact five players the Tigers will call up next, as there are always injuries and unexpected situations that occur during the 162 game season.
However, Detroit has some incredible prospects currently playing in the minor leagues that are waiting for their opportunity on the big stage.
Let's take a look at the next five most pivotal minor league call-ups for Detroit for this year and into 2013.
Nick Castellanos: Erie Seawolves
There may not be a Tigers fan in America who does not know the name of Nick Castellanos, and after Sunday's Futures game, a lot more people know his name.
Castellanos was named the MVP of the Futures Game because he went 3-for-4 with a three-run home run in the sixth inning.
No matter where they send him, he continues to hit at a high level. When he was with Lakeland, Castellanos hit .405 with 32 RBI and 22 walks. After being promoted to the Erie Seawolves, he picked up right where he left off. In 27 games this season with the Seawolves, he is hitting .307 with 15 RBI.
The Tigers are so high on Castellanos that he may be on a faster track to Detroit than many had previously thought. It was recently reported by John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press that Castellanos is currently taking fly balls in the outfield before games with Erie.
While there is no doubt that Miguel Cabrera is firmly entrenched at third base, the Tigers obviously want to get Castellanos to Detroit, and putting him in the outfield is the absolute best decision, as it is often difficult to transition from third base to another infield position like second base.
It would be a shock to see Castellanos wearing the old English D in 2012, but do not be surprised to see him roaming the outfield with Austin Jackson, Andy Dirks, and Quintin Berry in 2013.
Jacob Turner: Toledo Mud Hens
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One of the more popular arms in the Tigers farm system is Jacob Turner.
There is no doubt that Turner has the ability to be a fantastic pitcher in the years to come, and he may be well on his way to showing that potential with Detroit very soon.
In his one appearance with the big club, Turner threw five innings of one-run baseball while only giving up four hits to a very good St. Louis ball club.
As he continues to improve his mechanics, his path to Detroit will become more and more clear. Turner is continually improving his game, which makes him one of the biggest assets that Detroit currently holds.
It has also been stated that since Jacob Turner is progressing at such a fast rate, he may be well on his way to earning a spot in the rotation for the 2013 season. This is because Rick Porcello, being primarily a ground ball pitcher, may become expendable playing with a supporting cast that struggles defensively and could quickly become a vital trade piece if necessary.
Detroit has a farm system that is deep with pitching prospects, and Jacob Turner is one of the best in the nation.
Fans may see Turner in the big league sooner rather than later if something unexpected occurs with one of the pitchers currently in the starting rotation.
However, barring something unforeseen, expect to see Turner get a legitimate shot at the rotation in 2013, and he will definitely make the most of it.
Casey Crosby: Toledo Mud Hens
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Even though he has endured some rough starts during his time in a Tigers uniform this season, Crosby is one of the better pitching prospects in the Tigers farm system.
In his 12 appearances with Toledo this season, Crosby has a 3.18 ERA and 70 strikeouts. More impressively, he has been incredibly dominant in his last two starts. He went seven innings in both starts and gave up no runs and only four hits.
This shows that Crosby is well on his way to improving his pitching ability, which will make him a valuable piece to the Tigers as time moves on.
If given the right amount of time to develop, Crosby will become a very dominant pitcher in the major league very soon.
However, because he is progressing with each and every start, the Tigers may look to move Crosby in order to get a player or two that can improve the Tigers right now in their run to the postseason.
Detroit does not need the services of Crosby at this point and can afford to give him the time and coaching to flourish; however, do not be surprised to hear Crosby's name come up very often in trade talks within the coming weeks.
If he sticks around, he will be given every opportunity to prove his worth to the Tigers during spring training of 2013.
Avisail Garcia: Erie Seawolves
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Avisail Garcia is one of the top prospects in the farm system, and many people do not know his name.
He was playing so well with Lakeland that he was promoted to the Erie Seawolves very recently.
In 67 games with Lakeland, Garcia hit .289 and 36 RBI. While he still needs to control the amount of strikeouts he endures, Garcia is well on his way to becoming a major league ball player.
He has gotten off to a slow start with Erie, as he as only appeared in five games and is hitting a low .222. However, this may simply be a case of him needing more time to get acclimated to a new level of pitching.
There is no doubt that Garcia needs to take advantage of his time in Double-A to fix his hitting problems as well as to improve his ability to draw walks. However, he has a huge upside that has even been compared to Miguel Cabrera.
It is silly to assume that we will see Garcia in Detroit this season, but he will be given a chance to prove himself valuable to Detroit or whatever organization has him during spring training in 2013.
However, he may prove to be more valuable as a trade piece for Detroit before or at the July 31st trade deadline this season.
Bruce Rondon: Erie Seawolves
As one of the top pitchers in all of the minor leagues at this point, Bruce Rondon is a relatively unknown asset to the Tigers.
He is projected as the closer of the future for Detroit, and he has the numbers to back it up. Rondon has appeared in a total of 31 games during 2012 with both Lakeland and Erie. He has pitched a total of 32.2 innings with an overall ERA of 1.38.
More impressively, in the nine games he has appeared in with the Erie Seawolves, he has an ERA of 0.00 and a .107 opposing batting average.
Rondon has a fastball that tops 100 MPH and loves the pressure of the ninth inning when the game is on the line.
He has impressed so much this season that he was chosen to represent the Tigers in the 2012 Futures Game. He appeared in the eighth inning for the World team and was able to get two outs, while showing off his incredible 102 MPH fastball.
If Jose Valverde's struggles continue this season, the Tigers may look elsewhere to fill their closer role during the 2013 season, especially since Valverde's contract runs out at the end of this season.
While Rondon will not be ready to appear in the big leagues during the 2012 season, if he continues to improve at this rate, he may be closing out games at Comerica Park next season.