On the Cusp: Detroit Tigers
Moya, Farmer among top prospects looking to impact big league club in 2015
The Tigers have a fairly set lineup entering the season, but there are some Top 20 Prospects that may be able to help if needed.
Steven Moya | OF | 6-foot-6, 230 pounds | No. 4
The left-handed-hitting Moya got a quick taste of big league baseball last year. He has a chance to be an impact hitter. When I saw him this past autumn in the Arizona Fall League, Moya impressed with a nice, easy swing. He had Tommy John surgery in the past, but he is fully recovered and he can especially punish right-handers. High strikeout rates are a concern. He runs and throws very well. He needs a bit more development time.
Buck Farmer | RHP | 6-foot-4, 225 pounds | No. 5
Farmer started two games for the Tigers last season and worked 9 1/3 innings in four games total. He threw to an ERA of 11.57 with a WHIP of 1.82. A big guy with strikeout potential, he has a very good fastball/slider combination and he also can count on his changeup to round out his repertoire. He throws his fastball at 94-95 mph and drops the speed considerably for his other two pitches.
Jose Valdez | RHP | 6-foot-1, 200 pounds | No. 7
Signed out of the Dominican Republic, Valdez has a power arm that can bring his fastball up to 98 mph. He has the potential and upside to become a closer, or minimally, a setup reliever. He saved 18 games last season at Double-A Erie. If his fastball won't get the hitter, then his slider will. The issue with Valdez will be his command and control. Can he repeat his arm action and throw strikes? If he can, he'll be a factor.
James McCann | C | 6-foot-2, 210 pounds | No. 9
McCann is a defense-first catcher. He handles pitchers well and has good overall mechanics behind the plate. His footwork is good and he has an average arm, but he can handle guys trying to steal. He had 12 at-bats for the parent Tigers last season, collecting three hits. He had a nice offensive season last year at Triple-A Toledo when he hit .295. His power and speed are minimal. He's likely a backup catcher.
Drew VerHagen | RHP | 6-foot-6, 230 pounds | No. 10
VerHagen had Tommy John surgery while he was still in high school. Since that time, he has recovered excellent arm strength, capable of throwing his sinking fastball between 91-95 mph with an occasional 97. He pitches downhill from his huge frame and supplements his repertoire with a promising curveball and a changeup. Throwing a bit across his body, he can control his pitches and get swings and misses. He doesn't overpower hitters, even with his huge frame.
Tyler Collins | OF | 5-foot-11, 215 pounds | No. 11
A left-handed hitter, the stocky but muscular Collins got some playing time for the Tigers at the beginning of last season. He had 25 plate appearances. Basically, Collins could start the season as an extra outfielder. He has enough power to hit the gaps and probably could contribute double-digit home runs if given enough opportunities. He has the ability to hit left-handed pitching. He doesn't have much speed.
Melvin Mercedes | RHP | 6-foot-3, 250 pounds | No. 12
Mercedes is a wide-bodied, high-velocity fastball pitcher with an arm angle that exposes the ball to the hitter. He has to improve his control to win a big league job. Surprisingly, even with his 95 mph fastball, he doesn't get many strikeouts. He throws a mediocre slider and a changeup to round out his repertoire. His future will depend upon refining his secondary pitches so hitters don't sit on the fastball.
Angel Nesbitt | RHP | 6-foot-1, 240 pounds | No. 15
Nesbitt put together an outstanding 2014 season pitching for Class A Advanced Lakeland (0.79 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 34 1/3 innings) and Double-A Erie where he threw 32 1/3 innings to a 2.23 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. The native of Venezuela uses a fastball that ranges from 94-98 mph. His secondary pitches include a mediocre slider and changeup. High-energy mechanics detract from his ability to repeat his delivery.
Kyle Lobstein | LHP | 6-foot-3, 200 pounds | unranked
Six of Lobstein's seven appearances were starts for the Tigers last season. He has a sinking fastball that he generally throws at 88-90, but it isn't his best pitch. His curveball and changeup get good movement and can be deceptive pitches. He has to work on commanding his repertoire better and improving his control.