The Detroit Tigers organization has a bunch of things to look forward to out of their prospects this season. Sam Dykstra, of MiLB.com, has given his projections for the prospects in the AL Central. On the offensive side, only prospect, Victor Reyes, a negative WAR projection. The pitching side is less glamorous. Beau Burrows and Grayson Long are the only pitching prospects to have a positive WAR season.
Give it time: There’s a good amount of flash to Beau Burrows’ game — most notably his fastball, easily a plus pitch. After a rough 2016, the results came in 2017 as he finished with a 3.20 ERA, 137 strikeouts and 44 walks in 135 innings between Class A Advanced Lakeland and Double-A Erie. The most optimistic Tigers fan might want to push the 2015 first-rounder and see if his talent can make Detroit’s downturn a short one. Steamer cautions against that, pegging the right-hander for a 5.35 ERA. A return to Erie, where he had a 4.72 ERA in 76 1/3 frames, is the likely course to begin 2018. If Burrows can continue to miss bats at a good clip and turn around those run-prevention numbers in the Eastern League, then a move to the International League could be in the cards as well as a late Major League debut before he turns 22 in September.
Most notably is how much the Detroit Tigers farm system has improved. The last five years the Detroit Tigers have been considered to have a farm system ranked no higher than 26th. Trading away key veterans J.D. Martinez, Justin Verlander and Justin Upton a vastly improved farm system. As Dykstra notes, that Tigers have added some key top-100 prospects.
Top-100 talent: The Tigers system is so much more interesting this year thanks mostly to its young arms. Franklin Perez, who turned 20 in December, became the organization’s top prospect after coming over in the Justin Verlander deal in August. He’s only got 32 innings of Double-A experience, explaining the low Steamer projection, but his mix of three above-average pitches in his fastball, curve and changeup should be fun to watch when he finally makes his organizational debut in the spring. Matt Manning (2016) and Alex Faedo (2017) make up Detroit’s last two first-round picks. Faedo didn’t pitch over the summer after leading Florida to a College World Series win and thus doesn’t receive a Steamer projection. Manning, as his projection shows, is also quite far from the Motor City, having made only five starts for a full-season affiliate. The dream is for a rotation filled with Detroit-developed hurlers, and the Tigers have given themselves a puncher’s chance at that happening. It’ll just take a few years.
The last sentence is the key. The Tigers have plenty of prospects that, if things go right, will get them back to contending for a world series. The Brewers are already back into the mix, two years into their rebuild. But, it seems like an outlier. The Astros and Cubs needed 3-5 years, and that’s what we should realistically expect of the Tigers.