Post-Spring Training Scouting Report for the Tigers' Top Prospects
Spring Training is a time for veterans to re-gain their timing, pitchers to get their mechanics down and for young prospects with potential to show MLB teams why they deserve a chance to play under the bright lights.
The Detroit Tigers had several star-studded prospects in camp this spring in Lakeland, Fla., and had several tough decisions to make on who to keep and who to ship back down to Triple-A Toledo and beyond.
The Tigers had a productive spring and were able to make decisions on position battles, depth issues and what to do with key prospects, both now and for the future.
Here is the post-spring training scouting report for the top five Detroit Tigers' prospects.
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Tigers fans are going to have to wait a little bit longer for the much anticipated MLB debut of Detroit's phenom prospect Nick Castellanos.
After hitting .320, splitting time with elevated Single-A Lakeland and Double-A Eries last season, Castellanos was impressive for the big club this spring, batting .360 with a home run, two doubles and six RBIs in 25 at-bats.
He was sent down on March 19.
The 21-year-old was a long-shot to make the major league club going into spring training, but as the No. 21-rated prospect going into 2013 by both Baseball America and MLB.com, fans are getting antsy waiting for Castellanos to make his debut.
The Tigers front office has insisted the young stud isn't ready to make the jump to the big leagues, and as a primary third baseman, Detroit is in no hurry to rush him.
Entering his fourth minor league season, Castellanos is coming along as the Tigers planned when they drafted him in the first round (44th overall) in the 2010 Amateur Draft, but if he continues to improve and develop, and the Tigers suffer an injury or two, Castellanos is just a phone call away.
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It's not often you see a player make a World Series roster in October and fail to make an Opening Day roster in April, but that's exactly what has happened to Avisail Garcia.
Of course, it wasn't entirely Garcia's fault he didn't make the Tigers Opening Day roster, as he was placed on the disabled list with a heel contusion on March 26.
After just a cup of coffee in the minor leagues, the 21-year-old was called up from Double-A Erie last season during the September call-ups and held his own.
Garcia hit .319 with three RBI's in 23 regular season games for the Tigers last year and made the postseason roster. In 23 at-bats over 12 postseason games, he made his presence felt on the biggest stage, hitting .261 with four RBI's and was expected to make a push to make the 2013 Opening Day roster.
The right fielder hit .206 (7-for-34) with one double, one home run and three RBI's in 17 games this spring, and although his performance didn't necessarily earn him a roster spot, his injury guaranteed he wouldn't be offered one.
Garcia hit .333 with 14 homers and 23 steals across two levels in 2012. The injury he suffered this spring could be a blessing in disguise, though, as he'll benefit from more developmental time and have the chance to play every day in Triple-A.
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The Bruce Rondon project hasn't gone exactly as planned thus far in Detroit.
Expected to be the Opening Day closer all offseason, Rondon struggled mightily in spring training and was sent down to Triple-A Toledo on March 28.
Rondon threw 12 1/3 roller-coaster innings this spring and was sent down with a 5.84 ERA, giving up eight runs including two homers. He walked nine batters and balked a runner home in his final spring-training appearance.
He has been replaced, for now, by a closer-by-commitee led by Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque, Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel, among potential others, but manager Jim Leyland insists Rondon is "just a phone call away."
"This is not a punishment," Leyland said to MLive.com's Chris Iott. "This is kind of a reward. 'Go down there and close.' Like I told him, 'We're 55 minutes up I-75. It's not like you're going to A ball or Double-A. We're 55 minutes away.'"
Rondon will have time to develop in Triple-A without the pressure of an MLB pennant race, and if the Tigers closer-by-committee experiment fails, the 22-year-old could get a shot at his major league debut anytime.
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Sending down Quintin Berry may have been one of the toughest decisions Leyland had to make this spring.
After spending seven-plus years in the minor leagues, Berry made his major league debut with the Tigers last season and gave Detroit a much-needed shot of adrenaline.
Berry hit .323 (10-for-31) with seven RBI's, three walks and six strikeouts this spring, but missed some time due to patellar tendinitis.
After the Tigers released Brennan Boesch and sent Jeff Kobernus back to the Washington Nationals, it appeared Berry would make the Opening Day roster, but he was sent down on March 27.
Berry stole a team-high 21 bases last season, and the Tigers will now begin the year without a true base-stealing threat on their bench after sending Berry down.
The 28-year-old was a fan-favorite and a do-everything player for Detroit and will be available if he gets his timing back and continues to develop his bat.
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Matt Tuiasosopo is a prospect no more.
At least for now, the Tigers' biggest surprise during spring training is on the major league roster and will get an opportunity to prove himself.
The Tigers reportedly attempted to acquire the utility player for the stretch run last year but couldn't pull the trigger.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Thursday that the Tigers pursued Tuiasosopo late last season when they decided they needed a right-handed hitter but traded for Jeff Baker instead.
"We tried to get him, and we couldn't acquire him," Dombrowski said to MLive.com. "He was one of the guys at the top of our list for this role on our team."
The 26-year-old third round Amateur Draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2004 didn't join the Tigers last season, but he signed with Detroit as a free agent in November and made the most of his opportunity to make the big club.
Tuiasosopo batted .286 this spring, but when it was determined he would make the Opening Day roster, he was hitting .327 (16-for-49) with six doubles, four home runs, 10 RBIs and a 1.105 OPS.
He's listed as shortstop for the Tigers, but he played three different positions in 30 games this spring and only committed one error in 93 total chances.
Tuiasosopo only has a .176 average with five home runs and 15 RBI's in 71 career major league games, but he can play several positions and should serve as a quality utility player with some pop for the Tigers this season.