No. 1 Nick Castellanos, Third Baseman/Outfielder
Age: 20 (Turns 21 on March 4)
55 G, .405/.461/.553, 87 H, 17 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 32 RBI, 22 BB, 42 K, 3 SB (High-A)
79 G, .264/.296/.382, 85 H, 15 HR, 1 3B, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 14 BB, 76 K, 5 SB (Double-A)
After shredding High-A for two months, Castellanos was moved up to Double-A at the age of 20. His numbers did take a hit and some his of flaws were exposed, but the hit tool is still one of the best in the minors.
Castellanos has an easy, quick swing and gets the bat through the zone quickly. He is a smart hitter, capable of making adjustments in at-bats. He does need to work the opposite field a bit more against advanced pitching, though that will come in time.
He doesn't have elite power potential but should be good for 15-20 home runs and a lot of doubles. His position is up in the air, as the Tigers moved him to the outfield late in the season and during Arizona Fall League since they have a pretty good third baseman in the big leagues and could use Castellanos' bat sooner rather than later.
However, Castellanos' offensive profile fits better at third base than it does in the outfield. He is not great at third base, unsure of what he wants to do at times. But he does react quickly and has an above-average arm.
No. 2 Avisail Garcia, Outfielder
67 G, .289/.324/.447, 77 H, 8 2B, 5 3B, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 11 BB, 57 K, 14 SB (High-A)
55 G, .312/.345/.465, 67 H, 9 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 7 BB, 38 K , 9 SB (Double-A)
23 G, .319/.373/.319, 15 H, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 10 K (Majors)
A hole in right field opened things up for Garcia to make his big league debut last season even though he wasn't ready. He handled himself well in a short sample size and likely has the inside track on the starting job for Opening Day.
Garcia has plenty of raw power in his 240-pound frame, but because he still lacks patience and discipline at the plate, he hasn't hit more than 14 home runs in a season. Despite his size, he steals a fair amount of bases thanks to his instincts on the bases.
His arm and athleticism, not to mention his offensive profile, lead him to project as an above-average right fielder. Despite what some would have you believe, because both have large frames and are from Venezuela, Garcia is not going to be the next Miguel Cabrera.
Garcia should still be pretty good, though he could use more seasoning in the minors before playing every day in Detroit.
No. 3 Bruce Rondon, Relief Pitcher
22 G, 15 saves, 1.93 ERA, 23.1 IP, 12 H, 5 ER, 1 HR, 10 BB, 34 K (High-A)
21 G, 12 saves, 0.83 ERA, 21.2 IP, 15 H, 4 R (2 ER), 1 HR, 9 BB, 23 K (Double-A)
9 G, 2 saves, 2.25 ERA, 8.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 HR, 7 BB, 9 K (Triple-A)
Rondon is one of those must-see attractions that you stop in your tracks whenever he comes to the mound. He can pump a fastball in there as hard as anyone—clocking in at over 100 when I saw him during the Futures Game in July.
However, hitters have to fear for their lives when Rondon takes the mound, because he has no idea where the ball is going. His delivery is very violent and his release point varies from pitch to pitch.
He also needs to develop at least an average second pitch if he hopes to pitch in the back of a bullpen. His slider is his best offspeed pitch, though it is still not consistent enough for hitters to respect it.
Given that the Tigers let Jose Valverde walk and didn't sign any other relief help, Rondon, barring a collapse in spring training, will likely get the closer's job to start the season.
No. 4 Austin Schotts, Outfielder
40 G, .310/.360/.452, 48 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 12 BB, 41 K, 15 SB (Rookie)
2 G, .333/.333/.333, 1 H, 1 K, 1 SB (High-A)
One of the best pure athletes in the 2012 draft, Schotts has the tools and makeup to be an above-average center fielder.
Schotts has a vast array of tools that includes terrific bat speed with a line-drive oriented swing, plus speed and range in the outfield to be a plus defender. His throwing arm isn't great but it will play in center.
He has the potential to be a fast mover through the system because he understands the game so well and has already made adjustments in just a half season in rookie ball. He will likely get his first taste of a full-season league in April.
No. 5 Tyler Collins, Outfielder
126 G, .290/.371/.429, 137 H, 35 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR, 66 RBI, 58 BB, 64 K, 20 SB (High-A)
Collins is not a player who has one standout tool. His best asset is his patience and approach at the plate, but he doesn't have much power potential. He isn't the fastest runner on the field and doesn't have enough range to profile as a center fielder or the offensive profile of a corner outfielder.
What Collins does have, aside from his ability to work counts and hit his pitch, is an incredible baseball IQ. He gets the most out of the skills he has and then some, because he understands the game so well.
Even though he will end up as a corner outfielder without much power, Collins should hit for average and draw walks. If he can get to 15 homers and 25-30 doubles, he will be an everyday player.