The Down on the Farm series began last week, as I examined the Tigers' top pitching prospects entering the 2010 season. Today, we briefly examine some position players to keep an eye on this season.
1B/DH RYAN STRIEBY
2009: AA Erie
Stats: .303 average, .427 OB%
18 doubles, 1 triple, 19 home runs, 58 RBI
The 6′5″, right-handed first baseman has been quietly moving through the Tiger farm system the last few years. His performance though has been anything but quiet. Strieby has been destroying opposing pitching at stop thus far.
Perhaps the only problem with Strieby, is where to put him. He had been given limited reps in the outfield with less than impressive results. With Miguel Cabrera at first, he seems destined for DH duties.
Strieby has begun the season in AAA Toledo.
OF BRENNAN BOESCH
2009: AA Erie
Stats: .275 average, .318 OB%,
26 doubles, 7 triples, 28 home runs, 93 RBI
Brennan Boesch is quickly climbing up the depth charts after a break out 2009 campaign.
Last season's 28 home runs led the Eastern League and earned Boesch the 2009 Double-A MILB Round Tripper Award.
He has started the season in AAA Toledo.
OF CASPER WELLS
2009: AA Erie
Stats: .260 average .369 OB%
18 doubles, 4 triples, 15 home runs, 41 RBI
The Michigan native (born in Grand Rapids) put up solid numbers in AA Erie last season. Perhaps even more impressive, Wells hit .351 in the AFL.
It should be noted though that injuries, such as a broken hand and elbow problems, have hindered him in his minor league career. Hopefully, Wells stays injury-free and continues to build on yet another impressive season.
He began the season in AAA Toledo, but was recently placed on the DL after a head first slide into third base dislocated his finger.
The sixth round pick of the 2009 draft, DANIEL FIELDS was recently moved from short stop to centerfield. The University of Detroit/Jesuit High School prospect has started the season in extended spring training to become acclimated to his new position.
3B WADE GAYNOR
2009: Western Kentucky University
Stats: .371 average .466 OB%
20 doubles, 4 triples, 25 home runs, 78 RBI 21SB
Selected in the third round of the 2009 draft, Gaynor has begun the season in Low-A West Michigan.
1B RAWLEY BISHOP
2009: Middle Tennessee State Univ.
Stats: .398 average, .502 OB%
17 doubles, 1 triple, 14 home runs, 51 RBI
After an outstanding finish to his college career Bishop has begun this season in Advanced-A Lakeland.
OF STEVEN MOYA
2009: Dominican Summer League
Stats: .252 average, .361 OB%
8 doubles, 6 home runs, 33 RBI
The 18-year-old, left handed Steven Moya has quickly made a name for himself. The 6'6" native of the Dominican Republic is indeed raw as described by experts. Considering his age, he sure looks impressive on paper. He looked like a giant in right field this spring in Lakeland.
EARNING THEIR STRIPES:
SS GUSTAVO NUNEZ
2009: Low A West Michigan
Stats: .315 average, .360 OB%
16 doubles, 10 triples, 5 home runs, 40 RBI, 45 SB
Dave Dombrowski seems to be raving about the 21-year-old, switch-hitting shortstop Gustavo Nunez these days, and why not?
The speedy Nunez's 10 triples tied him for second most, and his 45 steals were the third highest in the Midwest League last season.
While his defense is perhaps below fellow prospect Cale Iorgs, it is worth noting that Baseball America tabbed Nunez the No. 7 prospect in Detroit’s farm system and the top infielder.
He has started the season in Advanced-A Lakeland.
MAKE OR BREAK:
1B/DH JEFF LARISH
Recently removed from the 40-man roster, I think it is safe to say that Jeff Larish is at a crossroads this season. As if that is not enogh, he should probably shift to third as Miguel Cabrera has first base locked up.
With that being said, Larish must put together an outstanding season, or I fear he will get lost in that same AAA black hole that former Tiger prospect Brent Clevlen did.
Either way (at least IMO), Jeff Larish is a great baseball player, period.
OF WILKIN RAMIREZ
The highly touted Ramirez takes a step back this season, as he returns to AA Erie.
Ramirez is quickly losing his prospect tag and finds himself in a make or break situation. With outfield prospects Casper Wells and Brennan Boesch rising on the depth charts and Clete Thomas just ahead of them in AAA Toledo, it’s tough to be Wilkin these days.