Stock Up, Stock Down for Detroit Tigers' Top Seven Prospects

Josh Berenter@JBerenterCorrespondent IApril 24, 2013

Stock Up, Stock Down for Detroit Tigers' Top Seven Prospects

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    The Detroit Tigers have a $148 million payroll.

    Having the fifth-highest team payroll in the major leagues doesn't translate well to the farm system, and the Tigers are no exception.

    Other than a few promising prospects, the Tigers' minor-league rosters are fairly bare of talented players who have the potential for long-term success at the highest level.

    The few prospects that the Tigers do have that could potentially make it to the show have had mixed results this season.

    Here are stock-up, stock-down updates for seven of the Tigers' highest-rated prospects.

Bruce Rondon: Stock Up

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    Bruce Rondon's stock couldn't be higher at the moment

    Rondon didn't complain about his demotion to Triple-A Toledo when he was sent down prior to Opening Day, and after an impressive start with the Mud Hens, he was called up to Detroit on Tuesday, just three weeks into the season.

    He handled his demotion like a pro and made the best of his situation, earning three saves over 7 2/3 scoreless innings with Toledo.

    "He's done pretty well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said to ESPN.com. "It hasn't been a significant amount of time, obviously. ... We'll just wait and see how things go up here."

    The Tigers called up Rondon after veteran reliever Octavio Dotel was placed on the disabled list, but management insists they will break Rondon in slowly.

    "He's not going to be the closer to start with," Leyland said. "That doesn't mean he will never close a game, it just means right now I want to break him in and get his feet wet in the big leagues a little bit and see what he looks like."

Nick Castellanos: Stock Down

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    Nick Castellanos is showing why the Tigers are smart in their hesitation to bring him up to the big club.

    Castellanos has been the face of Detroit's farm system for the last few years, and fans haven't been quiet in their desire to see the IF/OF join the Tigers.

    The Tigers' first-round pick in the 2010 Amateur Draft was named the MVP of the MLB Futures Game last season and was named the No. 21 prospect going into 2013 by Baseball America and MLB.com.

    Castellanos' stock was never higher going into spring training. But after a mediocre spring, the 21-year-old has not impressed at Triple-A Toledo, hitting just .228 with one home run and six RBI in 87 at-bats.

    He hit .405 with Single-A Lakeland to start 2012, but after hitting .264 to end the year with Double-A Erie, Castellanos has shown so far that he's not close to being ready to join the Tigers.

Avisail Garcia: Stock Up

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    Avisail Garcia is expected to return from the disabled list sooner than expected, which has his stock going up.

    Garcia shined in his first go-around with the Tigers last season during the September call-ups, and earned a spot on the postseason and World Series rosters.

    He hit .319 with three RBI in 47 at-bats during the 2012 regular season, and hit .261 with four RBI in just 23 postseason at-bats.

    Garcia, who suffered a right heel contusion trying for an infield single in March, has been cleared to begin baseball-related activities this week after three weeks in Lakeland receiving treatment.

    The Tigers, who were forced to eliminate Garcia from Opening Day roster contention because of the injury, originally thought Garcia would be out much longer.

    But now that he's on the verge of coming back, the Tigers can either send him to Triple-A Toledo, where he'd be able to play every day, or they can bring him straight to Detroit, where he can fight for the left-field spot, occupied now by struggling Andy Dirks, and Don Kelly.

Casey Crosby: Stock Down

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    Casey Crosby is a big left-hander who the Tigers thought could be an impact starting pitcher when they drafted him in the fifth round of the 2007 Amateur Draft.

    But after four-plus seasons in the minor leagues, Crosby has yet to make a positive impact in Detroit. His performance at Triple-A Toledo so far this season isn't promising.

    The 24-year-old is 1-3 in four starts for the Mud Hens this season, with a 4.58 ERA over 19 2/3 innings. 

    In his only stint with the Tigers last season, Crosby was less than impressive in three starts, earning a 9.49 ERA with 11 walks and nine strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He earned one win, going 1-1, but he gave up three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings in a 7-5 Tigers victory.

    The 6'5" starter has displayed good stuff the last couple seasons, but has had trouble with his command. This spring he gave up six walks in seven innings, and he's allowed 14 walks so far for Toledo this season.

Luis Marte: Stock Down

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    Luis Marte has a 9.00 ERA so far this season for Triple-A Toledo. He's only pitched two innings, but he has a 1-2 record in three appearances.

    The Tigers signed Marte as an amateur free agent in 2005, and he's performed well in Triple-A the last couple seasons, posting a sub-four ERA in each of the last two seasons, and has gotten a couple of call-ups to the Tigers in the past two seasons.

    Marte was one of the last cuts that Leyland made this spring, losing out to Darin Downs on March 28. 

    But for one reason or another, Marte hasn't been able to maintain success on the major league level, and with his small sample so far in Toledo, giving up at least one hit in each of his three appearances, he won't be back up anytime soon.

Luke Putkonen: Stock Up

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    Putkonen, who was sent down to Toledo in March, has also performed admirably in Triple-A, boasting a 1-0 record with a 0.79 ERA, 13 strikeouts and five walks in 11 1/3 innings.

    The Tigers' 26-year-old seventh-round pick in 2007 had his first cup of coffee in the major leagues last season, pitching 16 innings over 12 games, recording an 0-2 record with a 3.94 ERA.

    Putkonen had a 3.95 ERA in 10 appearances with the Tigers this spring, and is a strong candidate to join the Tigers' bullpen in a long relief role at some point.

Tyler Collins: Stock Down

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    Tyler Collins, 22, was one of the Tigers' highest-touted young prospects when he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 Amateur Draft, but he hasn't done much with Double-A Erie this season.

    Collins started his professional career in 2011 playing in the Gulf League, and he's hit at least .290 in each level of his two-year pro career. But through 14 games with Double-A Erie, he's batting just .200, with one home run and seven RBI.

    Collins has a strong bat, and is a good base stealer, earning 20 steals for Lakeland last season. But with only four extra-base hits and zero steals, things aren't looking up so far in 2013.