DETROIT -- As the Tigers embark on a rebuilding project built around pitching, they got a reminder just how much potential they have. Four right-handed Tigers starting pitching prospects landed on MLB Pipeline's latest rankings of the Top 100 prospects across baseball.
Franklin Perez, the top prospect from last summer's Justin Verlander trade with Houston, joins former first-round Draft picks Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows. Perez leads the group at 39th on the list. Manning lands at 55th, Faedo 59th and Burrows 77th.
• MLB Pipeline's 2018 Top 100 Prospects list
Only the Braves, Reds, White Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Padres and Rays have more players on the list. Of those, only the Braves and Padres have more pitchers on the list.
:: Complete 2018 Top Prospects coverage ::
The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2018 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 25 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
In terms of "prospect points" -- assigning a value that corresponds with where each prospect is ranked on the list, such as 100 points for the top overall prospect, 99 for the second and so forth -- the Tigers had the 15th-most points.
Perez was the highest ranked prospect acquired from the Astros in the Verlander trade last Aug. 31, ranking 41st on last year's Top 100 list, and he became the top-ranked Tigers prospect upon arrival. The righty didn't make a start in the Tigers' system, scratched from a start for Double-A Erie on the last day of the season, but he finished with a 6-3 record and 3.02 ERA between the Class A Advanced and Double-A levels while striking out 78 batters in 86 1/3 innings. Perez did all that as a teenager; he just turned 20 last month, while showing the ingredients for a four-pitch arsenal led by a mid-90s fastball.
Perez will likely open the season at Erie as part of a star-studded SeaWolves rotation with Burrows, who ended his season there. Burrows, the Tigers' top pick in 2015, rose from 85th on last year's Top 100 after going 10-7 with a 3.20 ERA in 26 starts between Erie and Class A Advanced Lakeland. After pitching for ground balls in his first full pro season, the 21-year-old found a better feel for his power fastball in 2017, striking out 137 batters over 135 innings against 124 hits allowed. His fastball ramped up from the mid-90s to 97 mph in tight spots.
Manning, the ninth overall pick in the 2016 Draft, was a highly ranked prospect before he pitched in a formal pro game, despite having pitched just a few years in high school. Once he got going, the lanky son of former pro basketball player Rich Manning showed a feel for pitching, overpowering hitters in short-season Class A ball before finishing the year at Class A West Michigan on the Whitecaps' playoff drive. He went 4-2 with a 3.18 ERA between the two stops, not counting one start in the Midwest League playoffs.
The 6-foot-6 Manning, who turns 20 on Sunday, is expected to return to West Michigan to begin the season.
Like Manning a year ago, Faedo has yet to pitch as a pro, having been rested following a long season on the University of Florida's run to a College World Series title. His potential was well-noted nonetheless, landing him at 66th on last year's midseason rankings after dominant postseason performances for the Gators. His College World Series success came after the Tigers landed him with the 18th overall pick in last year's Draft.
Faedo's college success came with a 92-93 mph fastball that topped off at 95, complemented by a dominant slider. The 22-year-old had a changeup that he rarely threw in college but will dust it off and hone it once he begins pro ball. Where his pro career begins, whether at West Michigan or Lakeland, remains to be seen.
None of the four prospects are expected to pitch in Detroit this year, though Burrows or Perez could push for a late-season callup with a strong summer at Erie and Triple-A Toledo. Considering the different ages and developmental levels, they won't all be arriving at the same time, and there's no guarantee they'll all make it. Still, with their collective potential, they give the Tigers the pieces for their next great rotation, following in the footsteps of Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.