2010 Detroit Tigers Prospect Watch: Opening Day Edition

Matt SCorrespondent IApril 5, 2010

DUNEDIN, FL - MARCH 22: Infielder Scott Sizemore #20 of the Detroit Tigers starts a double play over sliding outfielder Jeremy Reed #7 of  the Toronto Blue Jays March 22, 2010 at Dunedin Stadium in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

This year I’ll go around the horn in the Tiger’s minor league system to keep you updated on how the Tiger’s top prospects at each position are performing.

Using Baseball Prospectus’ Top 11 Prospects as my starting point (and then filling in some other web-based findings), here’s a 20-man roster of sorts of names to remember.

C – Alex Avila (MLB)
1B – Ryan Strieby (AAA)
2B – Scott Sizemore (MLB)
SS – Daniel Fields (SS)
SS – Gustavo Nunez (A+)
SS – Cale Iorg (AA)
3B – Audy Ciriaco (AA)
OF – Austin Jackson (MLB)
OF – Wilkin Ramirez (AA)
OF – Brennan Boesch (AAA)
OF – Casper Wells (AAA)

SP – Jacob Turner (A)
SP – Casey Crosby (A+)
SP – Andy Oliver (AAA)
SP – Alfredo Figaro (AAA)
SP – Melvin Mercedes (A)
RP – Cody Satterwhite (AA)
RP – Daniel Schlereth (AAA)
RP – Robbie Weinhardt (AAA)
RP – Josh Rainwater (AAA)

MLB – Detroit Tigers
AAA – Toledo Mudhens
AA – Erie Seawolves
A+ – Lakeland Flying Tigers (Advanced-A)
A – West Michigan Whitecaps
SS – Connecticut Tigers or Gulf Coast League Tigers (Short Season)

We’ll get to see three of these guys first hand this season. Scott Sizemore and Austin Jackson will make their Major League debuts (today!) and Alex Avila will begin his first full season with the big club.

There’s a bit of a full house (and a changing of the guard) at the shortstop position. Cale Iorg was the hot prospect of the last two years, but he has disappointed with the bat so far in minor league play. Gustavo Nunez saw some play with the big club during spring training and may be the organization’s top shortstop prospect at this point.

Daniel Fields is very athletic, but still very raw, and there’s talk that he’ll be transformed into an outfielder (a la Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks).

The Tigers don’t really have a big prospect at third base, and Audy Ciriaco has seen most of his time at shortstop, but he did play a fair amount at third this spring. Whether he’s going to make the switch full time or not remains to be seen, but it’s good enough for me for this list.

The Tigers have a logjam in the outfield at Toledo. Powerful Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells will join the Tigers’ 26th man Clete Thomas to complete the outfield. Ryan Strieby is often listed as an outfielder too but he’s a pretty bad defender out there and first base probably suits him best.

In my opinion, the top-end pitching prospects are the strength of the organization (especially the starters). Casey Crosby and Jacob Turner both project as solid future No. 1 or No. 2 starters, and Andy Oliver is often mentioned as a future No. 3 guy. The prospect of two of these three guys joining Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Max Scherzer in the Tigers rotation in two years or so should make any Tiger fan giddy.

Melvin Mercedes is kind of a high risk high reward type player. He has all the physical tools needed to be a top prospect, but at only 19 years of age, he needs significant refinement.

The quartet of relief pitchers listed above are all pretty close to being Major League ready, and any number of them could see time in the big leagues over the next two seasons.

I’m in no way a minor league talent evaluation expert, but hopefully we can all learn a little bit about these guys over the course of the year.

The Tigers are certainly not the deepest organization in terms of talent depth, but there’s certainly enough here to get excited about.