Now that the Super Bowl is over (Tom Brady is G.O.A.T. by the way) it is officially Baseball season! I can already smell the fresh cut grass, sunflower seeds and pine tar. Doing a top 50 list is a lot of work. While you would think going 50 prospects deep would allow you to get every single player worth noting some space, that is not always the case. I am going to highlight, in particular order, 5 guys that should have made my original preseason list.
Without any further ado I chronicle those 5 guys.
Tarik Skubal, LHP
Opening Day Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: A
Skubal was drafted in the 9th Round of the 2018 draft. While he only had a small sample size of innings in 2018, he threw 22, and the results couldn’t have been much better. He absolutely dominated over 3 levels to the tune of a 0.40 ERA, 0.85 WHIP while fanning 33 batters. A southpaw that posses an athletic delivery, Skubal offers a 70 grade fastball that has a lot of run to it. He also throws a slider and change-up that have potential to be plus but currently are fringe selections.
He had a lot of trouble finding the strike zone as an amateur but impressed with his 33:4 K:BB ratio in his first year as a pro. After dropping in the draft because of TJ surgery, Skubal could end up being an absolute steal in the draft if he can maintain the control he showed in 2018. This will be a name to keep a very close eye on in 2019 as he could emerge as the top lefty in the entire system.
Adinso Reyes, SS
Opening Day Age: 17
2018 Highest Level: N/A
Reyes was a 2018 J2 signee. He is a right-hander that projects to have a lot of power to his game while maintaining a solid hit tool. He already has a very advanced approach at the plate, which is something I love to see from raw prospects. Most notably however is his bat speed. Needless to say, Reyes has a lot of potential with his bat.
Defensively he is athletic and has a strong throwing arm. He is likely to end up at 3B down the road because of his body. Another thing I like about Reyes is he has a clear love and passion for the game and is quite an intense competitor. I am really excited to see what Reyes does in 2019 as he is someone who could make a massive jump into the rankings next season.
Carlos Guzman, RHP
Opening Day Age: 20
2018 Highest Level: A+
Guzman, interestingly enough, converted to a pitcher in 2017. He has a fastball that sits in the mid 90’s along with a devastating change piece that could develop into a plus plus pitch that he will throw in any count. He also is working on developing a slider. Guzman has a very athletic delivery and commands his pitches very well. In 2018 he split between Low-A (51.1 innings) and High-A (1 inning) with a 52:14 K:BB ratio over 52.1 innings.
He has an athletic delivery with good command of his three pitches. As Guzman becomes more seasoned he is another guy that should see his stock continue to rise. The scariest part for opponents is that Guzman is likely to only get better and as he adds more to his frame I would expect to see his strikeout totals rise. Combine that with his already good command and you see why his upside is something to monitor closely over the next couple years.
Jason Foley, RHP
Opening Day Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: N/A Tommy John Surgery
Foley missed all of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Stop me if you have heard that one before. As a reliever he is a bit behind Bryan Garcia but right about on par with Zac Houston. His arsenal includes a fastball that can get up to 100 MPH and an above average curveball. He also offers a slider but that pitch is fringe at best. If he can regain his form and maintain his health Foley could be a real weapon out of the Detroit Tigers bullpen. How incredible would it be to see Joe Jimenez, Garica, Houston and Foley lead that bullpen on a title run starting in 2021? Hey, a guy can dream, right?
Rey Rivera, 1B
Opening Day Age: 21
2018 Highest Level: A
Rivera was the most asked about guy not on my list outside of possibly Skubal. Rivera was a surprise selection in the 2nd Round of the 2017 Draft. The Tigers loved Rivera’s legitimate raw power. The question about him, however, is whether he’ll have the ability to make the adjustments to tap into it consistently. He also has a lot of swing and miss in his game. His swing makes him vulnerable to balls on the inner part of the plate and pitchers are already abusing that. He will have to smooth out those rough edges to become a serious offensive threat.
Though he mostly played 1B in college, the Tigers played him in the outfield at times to see what he could do out there. He does have a strong arm and held his own out there but I suspect he is most likely to end up at 1B. Regardless, Rivera’s bat is what will make or break him as a prospect. How well he can make adjustments will tell his story.