Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tigers Farm System Ranks Near Bottom in MLB

By Sean Gagnier

ESPN's Keith Law recently ranked all of the farm systems in Major League Baseball, and the Detroit Tigers didn't fair that well. Law had the Tigers ranked as No. 24 out of the 30 teams and their farm systems; there were only two redeeming parts of the farm system that kept it from falling lower than 24th.

The Tigers, Law said, were similar to the Philadelphia Phillies farm system, but are even thinner. There are quite a few prospects at the lower levels, but trades have erased most talent in the upper levels. There is raw talent to be had in the Tigers system, but aside from two exceptions, none of it is finished or nearly finished.

Just two prospects saved Detroit's farm system from slipping even lower than it did; Nick Castellanos and Jacob Turner. Turner, 21, is ranked No. 29 among all prospects. The right-handed pitching prospect has had the uber-prospect thrown on him in the past, but several MLB outings have proved that he is in need of more time in the minor leagues.

Castellanos, 20, is ranked as the No. 37 prospect in all of the MLB. He has torn up the minors at every stop he has made in his young career, hitting over .400 in Single-A Lakeland this season and batting over .300 at Double-A Erie. Castellanos is one of the most highly regarded Tigers prospects ever, with comparisons being drawn to Evan Longoria. If he can turn out to be a Longoria, the Tigers will be incredibly lucky.

He has been playing some games in the outfield lately for Erie, but is still considered to be a third base prospect and Dave Dombrowski says that is where he plans to play him for the foreseeable future. It wouldn't be the first time a highly touted third baseman made a transition to the outfield (see Ryan Braun), and that didn't turn out all that badly.

Detroit needs to address positional deficiencies in the system in the draft and consider stopping the nearly constant flow of prospects out of town for rental players for the major league club. If they're going to trade prospects away, they need to be signing the major league players they get in return.    

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