The games have started and the players have been assigned. It is time for your Tigers beginning of the season Top 50 update. My original 2017 Tigers Top 50 Prospects list was posted back on January 5th.
1. Joe Jimenez, RHP (Previous: 1)
Age: 22 (DOB 01/17/1995)
Promoted to the MLB team on 4/10/2017. In AAA Toledo, he appeared in two games for 2 innings, compiling 1 save and a 0.00 ERA. He looks to fill the back end of the bull pen position for the optioned Bruce Rondon.
2. Matt Manning, RHP (Previous: 2)
Age: 19 (DOB 01/28/1998)
Matt has low mileage on his arm, as he didn’t pitch as much in high school as the usual prep pitcher. Due to this, the Tigers are keeping this prized prospect on a short leash. He has been assigned to extended spring training to start 2017. I would expect him to move to short A Connecticut or low A West Michigan later in the year.
3. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP (Previous: 3)
Age: 23 (DOB 03/16/1994)
Starting the year in A West Michigan. Has started 1 game where he had 9 strikeouts over 5.0 innings of 1 hit ball. He also got the win and didn’t allow a run.
4. Christin Stewart, OF (Previous: 5)
Age: 23 (DOB 12/10/1993)
Christin is starting the year in AA Erie. In his 3 games played, he has 3 homeruns and is displaying the power that will get him to the majors. He is currently hitting .300 with a .462 OBP. Definitely a prospect that can move up my board throughout the year if he keeps this up and earns a promotion mid-season to Toledo.
5. Beau Burrows, RHP (Previous: 4)
Age: 20 (DOB 09/18/1996)
Starting the year in A Lakeland and is part of a Lakeland team that could be very exciting to watch. Beau has started the year with 1 game started, giving up no runs in 4.1 innings. I’m expecting big things out of him this year.
6. Jose Azocar, OF (Previous: 6)
Age: 20 (DOB 05/11/1996)
Jose is starting the year in A Lakeland. Jose is that kind of sexy sleeper that if he isn’t stashed in your dynasty league minors, he is worth a pick-up now. I see him as the type of buy low prospect that can net you a huge return. I don’t see his stock getting any lower, as I love his mixture of speed and ability to hit at an above average clip. I think as he develops he could hit 20 or 30 stolen bases a year, he has that kind of speed and is still only 20. To start the year in his first 4 games, he is hitting .263, with a .263 OBP, with 2 home runs and no steals yet.
7. Tyler Alexander, LHP (Previous: 7)
Age: 22 (DOB 07/14/1994)
Tyler has made the jump to AA. He has started one game, pitching 5 innings, giving up no runs, on 4 hits. His numbers at every level have been impressive and he does have the build to be a solid innings eater. I look for him to continue on his numbers and continue his way up the Tigers system this year.
8. JaCoby Jones, OF (Previous: 11)
Age: 24 (DOB 05/10/1992)
Made the team as the starting CF. The Tigers say he is part of a platoon at CF with Andrew Romine, but he has started all the games so far. He hit a homerun in his first at bat on opening day. As of today’s action (4/10/17), he has compiled managed a .200 AVG, .333 OBP, 1 home run, and 1 steal. Since he is getting the majority of reps, he is worth adding, but is more bench depth at this point. If he heats up, he could be a must start, but it doesn’t appear his bat has matured fully.
9. Derek Hill, OF
Age: 21 (DOB 12/30/1995)
Derek has been one of my more disappointing prospects. He holds his space due to his potential, he just needs to get over the injury bug. He is starting for the third year in a row in A West Michigan. He has yet to play as he is sitting on the disabled list.
10. Dixon Machado, SS (Previous: 12)
Age: 25 (DOB 02/22/1992)
Dixon made the MLB team with a strong spring. He has only appeared in one game as a pinch hitter. He is not worth having on your dynasty squad at the moment, but if Jose Iglesias does go down, he could be a good stop gap middle infielder. Just remember, he is a glove first player.
10. Spencer Turnbull, RHP (Previous: 10)
Age: 24 (DOB 09/18/1992)
Spencer is starting the year as a starter in Lakeland. Hs first start he gave up 2 earned over five innings. He took a no decision. He is an intriguing prospect, but I’d like to see him take a leap forward this year. This is a make or break year for him in my opinion.
12. Mike Gerber, OF (Previous: 11)
Age: 24 (DOB 07/08/1992)
Michael had a terrible spring and is returning to AA. He has started the year off with 1 hit in three games and seems to be continuing his terrible spring. He seems to be in a funk and I hope he can pull himself out of it. He does help to form an amazing outfield in Erie and my hope is he returns to form and ends the year in AAA.
13. Matt Hall, RHP (Previous: 13)
Age: 23 (DOB 07/23/1993)
Matt is back in Lakeland to start his 2017 year. In his first start he gave up 2 earned, on five hits in 1.2 IP. He did not look pretty. I hope he can return to form and continue to be the intriguing prospect he is. He is definitely worth a pickup in deep MiLB leagues and someone I’ll personally be monitoring closely.
14. Sandy Baez, RHP (Previous: 14)
Age: 23 (DOB 11/25/1993)
Sandy is starting the year in A Lakeland and is currently on the disabled list. His first start wasn’t great, as he gave up 3 earned in 4 IP with 6 hits. I’m hoping that once he returns from the DL that he returns to form. He is an intriguing prospect to say the least.
15. Artie Lewicki, RHP (Previous: 15)
Age: 25 (DOB 04/08/1992)
Artie is starting the year in AA. He had a disastrous first start, giving up 4 earned in 3.2 IP on 5 hits. Artie does appear to be an average at best pitcher, so this may be his peak in my rankings. We’ll watch and see throughout the year how he handles AA, but I’m worried this may be a sign of things to come. I hope I’m wrong.
16. Arvicent Perez, C (Previous: 16)
Age: 23 (DOB 01/14/1994)
Moved up to Lakeland. He has started the year with a homerun, but his bat hasn’t picked up yet.
17. AJ Simcox, SS (Previous: 17)
Age: 22 (DOB 06/22/1994)
He has moved up to AA and has not had the best start to his year. I’m hoping to see him heat up and get back to his career average numbers. Definitely worth a watch if he makes it up to AAA. Could be a future utility type player in the Andrew Romine mold.
18. Gerson Moreno, RHP (Previous: 18)
Age: 21 (DOB 09/10/1995)
Returning to A Lakeland to the start the year. He’s pitched 3 innings of scoreless ball with 4 strikeouts. I’m still in love with his fastball potential.
19. Myles Jaye, RHP (Previous: 19)
Age: 25 (DOB 12/28/1991)
Starting in AA and has yet to pitch.
20. Mark Ecker, RHP (Previous: 23)
Age: 21 (DOB 05/27/1995)
Mark is starting the year in Lakeland. He has already nailed a save and looks to be the teams closer. If he performs as he has at each level he’s pitched, he’ll move up my list by the end of the year.
21. Drew Smith, RHP (Previous: 21)
Age: 23 (DOB 09/24/1993)
Drew has been assigned to Lakeland. He has entered games as a reliever and hasn’t given up a run yet.
22. Adam Ravenelle, RHP (Previous: 22)
Age: 24 (DOB 10/05/1992)
Adam is returning to AA to start the year. He has yet to pitch. He was a non-roster invite to spring training. So he does appear to be in the future plans of the big league team.
23. Wladimir Pinto, RHP (Previous: 20)
Age: 19 (DOB 02/12/1998)
Has yet to pitch this year and appears headed to the rookie leagues or short season A.
24. Paul Volker, RHP (Previous: 24)
Age: 24 (DOB 08/19/1992)
Paul is returning to Erie to start 2017. He didn’t pitch great in his first appearance, but his history tells me he’ll be fine. I think he’ll improve on last year’s numbers.
25. Grayson Greiner, C (Previous: 30)
Age: 24 (DOB 10/11/1992)
Opening the year in Erie. He has played in 2 games so far, so his stats can’t be analyzed yet, but I have high hopes for him. He could be a good backup catcher in a couple of seasons.
26. Bryan Garcia, RHP (Previous: 26)
Age: 21 (DOB 04/19/1995)
Bryan is starting the year in West Michigan. He has racked up a save so far and not allowed a hit.
27. Austin Sodders, LHP (Previous: N/A)
Age: 21 (DOB 04/29/1995)
Austin was a 7th round park last year. Others have him ranked higher, I just haven’t seen enough to rank him any higher. He is opening the year in the West Michigan rotation. He has started his career nicely and could be a nice sleeper pick in the Tigers systems.
28. Dominic Ficocello, 1B (Previous: 28)
Age: 25 (DOB 04/10/1992)
Looks to repeat the year in AA. I view him as nothing more than a utility man and if his current numbers continue, I don’t think he’ll crack the majors.
29. Jairo Labourt, LHP (Previous: 25)
Age: 23 (DOB 03/07/1994)
Jairo is repeating in Lakeland for a third straight 3rd year. This is the reason for my drop. He’s pitched better in his two relief appearances this year, but he has to maintain that and finally crack AA for me to rank him any higher. For now, I would hold off unless your league tracks holds and you’re looking for a late round sleeper in deep MiLB leagues.
30. Gregory Soto, LHP (Previous: 31)
Age: 21 (DOB 02/11/1995)
Gregory will be making the leap to A West Michigan this season. He has yet to appear this season in a game and looks to be used
31. Trey Teakell, RHP (Previous: 32)
Age: 25 (DOB 02/17/1992)
Trey has been assigned to A West Michigan. He is currently on the disabled list, so he has yet to pitch this season. Expect an update later on this season after he is healed.
32. Victor Alcantara, RHP (Previous: 29)
Age: 23 (DOB 04/03/1994)
Victor had a terrible spring and was a part of the first round of cuts in camp. He is starting the year in AA Erie, which is another disappointment for me. His fastball is lights out, but if he can’t put it together, the trade of Cameron Maybin will go down as a bust for both fantasy owners and Tigers fans alike.
33. Randel Alcantara, 3B (Previous: 33)
Age: 19 (DOB 05/13/1997)
I’m hoping this year can be his break out year. Last year didn’t leave much encouragement, but I’m hoping that his bat starts to mature. If not, he won’t make the top 50 next year. He has yet to be assigned, and I’m sure he’ll be in the GCL or DSL to start the season.
34. Cam Gibson, OF (Previous: 34)
Age: 23 (DOB 02/12/1994)
Cam is back in A West Michigan to start 2017. This is the make or break year, as his bat needs to start to show some signs of life, or he’ll end up as another bust in the Tigers system. He has the pedigree to be great, but I need to see it.
35. Angel Nesbitt, RHP (Previous: 48)
Age: 26 (DOB 12/04/1990)
Had a decent spring and barely missed making the team. He is being used as a reliever in AAA Toledo and could be a call up later in the season due to injury. Does not have much value at the current time.
36. Joey Pankake, 3B (Previous: 36)
Age: 24 (DOB 11/23/1992)
Joey is back in Lakeland to start the 2017 campaign. My favorite name in the minor leagues, I just hope he can recover from a dismal 2016. He hasn’t started off great, but having only played 4 games, I’m willing to give him time. This could be the year that makes or breaks his chances at a big league job down the line.
37. Chad Bell, LHP (Previous: 42)
Age: 27 (DOB 04/28/1989)
Starting the year in AAA Toledo. Has pitched 1 start so far, to the tune of a 1.59 ERA over 5.2 innings. He is starting or long relief depth at this point of the season.
38. Christhian Tortosa, LHP (Previous: 38)
Age: 18 (DOB 10/30/1998)
Since he didn’t have much experience at the GCL level, it appears that is where he is headed again as a reliever. Look for an update later this summer.
39. Juan Ramirez, OF (Previous: 39)
Age: 18 (DOB 04/09/1999)
Looking like he’ll spend another year in the rookie leagues. Look for an update later this summer.
40. Francisco German, RHP (Previous: 40)
Age: 20 (DOB 12/26/1996)
Looking to start in the rookie leagues again. Look for an update later this year when he starts playing.
41. Zach Shepherd, 3B (Previous: 37)
Age: 21 (DOB 09/14/1995)
Zach has been assigned again to A Lakeland. He has had a dismal start to the year, but given his age, I’m willing to stick with him here. My hope is that the bat can grow this season, but sitting at a .059 average early in the season has me worried. Another dismal year and he will drop out of my rankings completely.
42. Jason Foley, RHP (Previous: 44)
Age: 21 (DOB 11/01/1995)
Starting the year in A West Michigan as a reliever. Has pitched 2 innings of no run ball.
43. Warwick Saupold RHP (Previous: N/A)
Age: 27 (DOB 01/16/1990)
Starting the year in AAA Toledo as a reliever. He has pitched a couple of innings with the Tigers last year, without much success. He is a low end reliever and the only way he cracks the roster is with an outstanding performance in Toledo or injury. He is currently on the 40-man roster.
44. Ildemaro Escalona, SS (Previous: 27)
Age: 18 (DOB 02/12/1999)
Looks to continue in the rookie leagues this year. I am high on him as I think his bat will develop well. He is worth keeping an eye on, but I wouldn’t draft yet.
45. Julio Martinez, OF (Previous: 43)
Age: 19 (DOB 12/15/1997)
Has yet to be assigned. Looks to repeat in the rookie leagues this year.
46. Wenceel Perez, SS (Previous: 45)
Age: 17 (DOB 10/30/1999)
Hasn’t played yet this year and is destined for the GCL for his first assignment after signing last year as an international signing. Has a chance to be above-average, but I need to see him play against better competition before he could move up.
47. Spenser Watkins, RHP (Previous: N/A)
Age: 24 (DOB 08/27/1992)
New to the list, I’ve been impressed with his start to the year. I may get a chance to see him live in my visit to A West Michigan later this year. He has helped the Whitecaps start off strong this season and had a fine first outing going 5.1 innings, giving up 4 hits, and 0 runs. I’m hoping he could be my breakout candidate this year.
48. Felix Viloria, LHP (Previous: N/A)
Age: 27 (DOB 01/16/1990)
Pitched in the GCL last year. Has yet to be assigned to a team. Had good numbers as a lefty reliever, compiling a 1.74 ERA over 20.2 innings and having 1 save. Looks to start the season again in the GCL or Short A Connecticut.
49. Jacob Robson, OF (Previous: 49)
Age: 22 (DOB 11/20/1994)
Starting the year in A West Michigan. Has started the year appearing in 3 games, with a .231 AVG and .286 OBP. Nothing special yet this year.
50. Jack O’Loughlin, LHP (Previous: 50)
Age: 17 (DOB 03/14/2000)
The season is currently over in Australia. Finished the year 3 and 3, with a 3.02 ERA over 41.2 innings pitched with the Australian Baseball League Adelaide Bite. Still a long way off.
Just Missed The Cut:
Anthony Castro, Daniel Stumpf, Eudis Idrogo, Connor Harrell
Kevin Ziomek, LHP – Retired (Previous: 35)
Age: 24 (DOB 03/21/1992)
Kevin retired from baseball on April 4th. He retired due to injury concerns. It is save to drop in all formats.
Endrys Briceno RHP (Previous: 47)
Age: 25 (DOB 02/07/1992)
Has yet to be assigned to a team. Since he has yet to make a team and with his age, he isn’t likely to make the major leagues.
Jimmy Mojica, OF (Previous: 46)
Age: 16 (DOB 05/04/2000)
Has yet to play this year and is destined for the GCL later this year due to his age. Just haven’t seen enough to keep him on the list.
Connor Harrell, OF (Previous: 41)
Age: 26 (DOB 03/24/1991)
Was demoted a level and will report to A Lakeland after his time on the inactive list. Due to his age, he can be ignored in all fantasy.
Nick Bradford is a writer for Prospects 1500 covering the Detroit Tigers. He resides in southeast Michigan with his wife and daughter. He is an avid fan of the Tigers, the Mudhens, and anything baseball (fantasy or MLB). He is a graduate of Central Michigan University and works as a support manager for a software company. Follow me on Twitter at @firedupchippewa.