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Catching prospect Rogers brings a lot to like

Lesser-touted prospect in Verlander trade has impressed Astros, Tigers alike
MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The news came in a hurry for Jake Rogers, just as he was wrapping up his season in the Astros' organization. A midnight phone call to say you've been traded will do that.

"There were a lot of emotions going on," he said. "It was very last-minute and when it happened, it was crazy when everything went down."

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The news came in a hurry for Jake Rogers, just as he was wrapping up his season in the Astros' organization. A midnight phone call to say you've been traded will do that.

"There were a lot of emotions going on," he said. "It was very last-minute and when it happened, it was crazy when everything went down."

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Rogers' boss, on the other hand, had been weighing it for a while. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow knew the team would have to give up good talent to convince the Tigers to trade Justin Verlander and pick up part of his salary. Their catcher of the future was part of the price tag.

Video: Beck on Rogers developing at catcher with the Tigers

"He has the ability in my opinion to be a frontline, everyday catcher in the big leagues," Luhnow said of Rogers this week. "And I think that opinion is shared by the Tigers' evaluators. We did not take it lightly, trading our catcher of the future. That was a difficult pill to swallow. But that was what it was going to take to get Justin Verlander, so we had to do it.

"But I can't say enough good things about him. He's not going to be a catch-and-throw guy only; he's going to hit. He receives well, he blocks, he frames. He has a chance to be a very complete catcher."

The Tigers already had some good young catching, with James McCann entering his prime seasons as a team leader in Detroit, Grayson Greiner approaching in Triple-A Toledo and two talented catchers just drafted in June. But if the Verlander trade was going to bring back impactful young talent, Rogers' potential justified being part.

Video: Road to Detroit - Jake Rogers

Rogers was the best defensive catcher in his Draft class in 2016 out of Tulane, and the third-round pick who played up to the billing last year, throwing out 46 percent of attempted basestealers. More surprising, he hit .261 with 25 doubles, 18 homers, 70 RBIs and an .817 OPS between A-ball levels.

"He was a very advanced college catcher," Luhnow said. "He came into our system and immediately demonstrated that he was going to be an advanced Minor League catcher. He worked with a lot of our young pitchers."

Now, as the Tigers stockpile pitching at the middle levels of their farm system, they have a catching prospect to parallel them. Rogers enters the season ranked fifth on MLB Pipeline's list of top catching prospects and seventh overall in the Tigers' system. His defense rated best of the bunch.

Before he gets to work with potentially Franklin Perez, Beau Burrows, Kyle Funkhouser and others, Rogers is trying to learn Alex Faedo and others in his first Major League camp while learning from McCann, Brayan Pena and other veteran catchers along the way.

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"I've met a lot of guys over these past couple days," Rogers said. "Just trying to get to know everybody, know their strengths, know their weaknesses and pick some brains and get after it."

The Tigers have put him to work, using him to catch prospects and veterans alike in early sessions. He has taken on the responsibilities new pitching coach Chris Bosio places on his catchers to work with and help develop pitchers.

"You cannot win without good catchers," Bosio said. "They're the guys that I rely on, probably more than the pitching staff, to help these guys. They're not a catch-net. They're a guide. They're a leader. They're the only player on the field with everybody in front of them."

Video: Rogers has potential to win a Gold Glove Award in future

That's part of what drew Rogers to the position in high school after playing a lot of shortstop and center field as a kid. He had plenty of Major League catchers he could have idolized for the way they hit. He loved watching Yadier and Jose Molina for the way they caught, so he watched and learned.

As he takes in big league camp, he's still watching. The Tigers, meanwhile, are watching him. And so, too, might a few folks with the Astros.

"All the reports that we got from our roving catching instructors and our managers was that he's going to be a team leader in the big leagues," Luhnow said.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Jake Rogers

Faedo hopes to make most of spring invite

Tigers pitching prospect will spend time in camp observing, learning
MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The body frame and the delivery are unmistakable. They're just a little unusual to watch in action here on the back fields at Tigertown, in Major League camp.

"I feel like I throw pretty normal," Alex Faedo said. "But I don't know. I just pick up the ball and throw it. I never thought of myself having a weird delivery."

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The body frame and the delivery are unmistakable. They're just a little unusual to watch in action here on the back fields at Tigertown, in Major League camp.

"I feel like I throw pretty normal," Alex Faedo said. "But I don't know. I just pick up the ball and throw it. I never thought of myself having a weird delivery."

The last time Faedo put that delivery to work, he was starring in the College World Series, helping lead the University of Florida to its first national title in front of a packed crowd in Omaha and a worldwide television audience. That was eight months ago, just a couple of weeks after the Tigers drafted him with the 18th overall pick. The bigger Faedo pitched, the more Detroit officials had to bless their luck the draft was sooner rather than later.

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Now, Faedo is in their Major League camp. He's not competing so much as pitching and observing. The buzz of a must-win game has been replaced by the quiet of early spring workouts, the pop of the mitts echoing down the row of bullpen mounds.

For many, this is where the season begins. For Faedo, this is where his pro career opens. He's a long way from Detroit, but he's in a good place to start.

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Faedo, RHP, Tigers

"Quite frankly, he's an advanced player," general manager Al Avila said. "It's not like we just drafted a high-school kid that's just turned 18 years old and doesn't know anything at all. This guy is a very advanced pitcher. He's been to the College World Series, so he is going to get a great experience being in camp, just being around some of the guys and seeing how they go about their work to get prepared for the season.

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"That experience in itself is good, plus get our Major League staff -- all of our Minor League staff here too -- it's a good time for them to get a feel for him, and him to them."

Faedo's not in a high-profile spot in the clubhouse, tucked amongst the rest of the prospects and non-roster invites. His jersey number, 75, reflects a similar status. As Faedo took the back mounds on Friday, however, he was throwing alongside Michael Fulmer, Mike Fiers and Matthew Boyd.

"I think it's a great opportunity, a great experience to work with guys who have been playing in the Major Leagues, coaches that have been coaching for longer than I've been alive," Faedo said. "I'm not going out there thinking anything besides learning and trying to get better."

The camp invite notwithstanding, the Tigers have shown an abundance of patience. After all Faedo's innings in Florida's title run, Detroit decided to rest him for the summer. He did not pick up a ball, he said, until after the fall instructional league, and even then he wasn't throwing.

"I wanted to throw," Faedo said, "but I understood where everyone was coming from on not throwing. It was just something I had to accept. I wasn't going to beat myself up over it. I knew I was going to throw again."

The invite is his reward. A Spring Training game appearance or two will likely be Faedo's next prize, making his first pro pitches in a Detroit Tigers uniform in front of friends and family from Tampa. After that, he'll head to Minor League camp, where player development officials will weigh where to send him in the system.

"I would say when he goes to Minor League camp, that will determine where he starts," Avila said. "I don't want to predict where he's going to start, but just knowing how we've done things in the past historically, we probably would want him to start in warmer weather. So it wouldn't surprise me that he might start in Lakeland. Maybe we decide to send him to West Michigan. But we haven't made any final decisions."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Alex Faedo

Tigers eager to see top '17 pick Faedo at camp

Club's No. 3 prospect hasn't pitched since College World Series
MLB.com

Arguably the most exciting new player to watch in Tigers camp has virtually no chance of making the Major League team out of Spring Training. However, 2017 first-round pick Alex Faedo has an opportunity to make a good first impression toward getting to Detroit sooner rather than later.

Just eight months after Faedo led the University of Florida to its first College World Series title, Faedo will be taking the mound alongside veterans and promising youngsters on the mounds at Tigertown. He'll be just a couple of hours from his college grounds in Gainesville, Fla., and less than an hour from his home in Tampa, but worlds away from college ball.

Arguably the most exciting new player to watch in Tigers camp has virtually no chance of making the Major League team out of Spring Training. However, 2017 first-round pick Alex Faedo has an opportunity to make a good first impression toward getting to Detroit sooner rather than later.

Just eight months after Faedo led the University of Florida to its first College World Series title, Faedo will be taking the mound alongside veterans and promising youngsters on the mounds at Tigertown. He'll be just a couple of hours from his college grounds in Gainesville, Fla., and less than an hour from his home in Tampa, but worlds away from college ball.

Faedo -- who finished 2017 as Detroit's No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- hasn't thrown in a game since the College World Series, a decision the Tigers made to give him some rest after he racked up innings through the NCAA Tournament. He'll have to strike the balance in camp between getting ready for his first taste of pro ball and trying to compete against big league hitters, whether it's in live batting practice or the Tigers' annual exhibition against Florida Southern College or in a Grapefruit League appearance.

Watching Faedo compete in Omaha, Neb., last June left no doubt that his competitive fire drives him as much as his talent. It's one of the factors that led the Tigers to draft him with their first-round selection once he surprisingly fell out of the Top 10. There's a risk to that drive in the spring if he tries to throw too hard, too soon, or to lean on the slider that earned him so many outs in college ball but also puts stress on an arm if overused.

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The Tigers have to temper that competitiveness without suppressing it, which makes how new pitching coach Chris Bosio works with Faedo as intriguing as watching Faedo pitch.

"Alex was a case that I was asked to call, because he's new to the organization," Bosio said at TigerFest a week and a half ago, "and we were just making [clear] that we were on the same page as far as his throwing program and his workouts. I was very impressed. He's a well-spoken young man, driven young man, and he's definitely on the right track for a guy so early in his pro career."

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Faedo, RHP, Tigers

The fact that such a track includes big league camp so soon isn't unprecedented, but it's relatively rare. The Tigers have had younger pitchers in camp than the 22-year-old Faedo; Rick Porcello made Detroit's rotation out of Spring Training as a 20-year-old in 2009 with no work above Class A ball. But not since Andrew Miller went from the College World Series in June 2006 to the Tigers' bullpen in an American League Central race in September has a Tigers Draft pick vaulted so quickly. Ryan Perry went from being a Tigers top pick in 2008 to Detroit's bullpen the following spring, but had more Minor League work in between (12 games for Class A Lakeland) than Miller (three).

Faedo won't get to the Majors that quickly, not when the rebuilding Tigers are preaching patience with all their top pitching prospects. Still, it'll be interesting to see if he can hasten his path a bit with a strong camp.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Alex Faedo

Tigers prospect Garcia to visit Dr. Andrews

Righty reliever experiencing recurring elbow pain, may need Tommy John surgery
MLB.com

DETROIT -- The next generation of Tigers pitchers will spend the season developing in the farm system, but reliever Bryan Garcia might have his path to Detroit slowed. The high-rising prospect, a potential future closer, will visit renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews next week after experiencing recurring pain in his right elbow.

No surgery has been scheduled, but it's a possibility, depending on the diagnosis that results from Garcia's visit next Wednesday. If Dr. Andrews recommends Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow, Garcia would likely spend the 2018 season rehabbing in preparation for a return to action next year.

DETROIT -- The next generation of Tigers pitchers will spend the season developing in the farm system, but reliever Bryan Garcia might have his path to Detroit slowed. The high-rising prospect, a potential future closer, will visit renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews next week after experiencing recurring pain in his right elbow.

No surgery has been scheduled, but it's a possibility, depending on the diagnosis that results from Garcia's visit next Wednesday. If Dr. Andrews recommends Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow, Garcia would likely spend the 2018 season rehabbing in preparation for a return to action next year.

Garcia visited Dr. Andrews last fall after experiencing elbow discomfort toward the end of last season. He underwent a successful throwing program during instructional league in October, but apparently experienced a recurrence while throwing last month.

The issue was first reported Tuesday by InsideTheU, a site that covers University of Miami athletics. Garcia was a closer at Miami before the Tigers selected him in the sixth round of the 2016 Draft.

Garcia has been a highly-regarded prospect by Tigers officials since his rapid ascension up the development ladder in his first full pro season. The 22-year-old began last season at Class A West Michigan and ended it at Triple-A Toledo, pitching at four levels along the way.

Combine the stats, and Garcia had an eye-opening season, posting a 2.13 ERA and 17 saves in 52 appearances. He allowed just 36 hits over 55 innings with 22 walks and 78 strikeouts. Nearly as impressive, he allowed just two home runs, one each at Toledo and Double-A Erie.

The rise was the big reason Garcia went from an unranked prospect entering last season to 23rd on MLB Pipeline's Tigers prospect rankings at season's end. Only lefty Jairo Labourt (18th) ranked higher among Tigers relief prospects. This year's preseason rankings will be out later this month.

Garcia had been expected to open the season with the Mud Hens. He's part of a wave of relief prospects that includes highly touted Joe Jimenez, Zac Reininger, Labourt and Paul Voelker. Jimenez, Reininger and Labourt all reached Detroit last year, while Voelker received a non-roster invite to attend Spring Training next week.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

Top pick Faedo headlines NRIs to spring camp

MLB.com

DETROIT -- Alex Faedo's first pitches as a pro will be in a Tigers uniform during Spring Training. Detroit's top pick from the 2017 Draft was one of 22 players invited to Major League camp, the team announced Tuesday.

Most of the invitations went to veterans signed to Minor League contracts that had already been reported. Faedo -- the Tigers' third-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- and catcher Jake Rogers were the two notable exceptions. Neither has enough professional time to require protection on the Tigers' 40-man roster, but both have enough potential for the Tigers' big league staff to merit a look.

DETROIT -- Alex Faedo's first pitches as a pro will be in a Tigers uniform during Spring Training. Detroit's top pick from the 2017 Draft was one of 22 players invited to Major League camp, the team announced Tuesday.

Most of the invitations went to veterans signed to Minor League contracts that had already been reported. Faedo -- the Tigers' third-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- and catcher Jake Rogers were the two notable exceptions. Neither has enough professional time to require protection on the Tigers' 40-man roster, but both have enough potential for the Tigers' big league staff to merit a look.

The Tigers selected Faedo with the 18th overall pick in last year's Draft, but shut him down for the summer out of precaution after he led the University of Florida to the College World Series title in June. His postseason workload for the Gators was enough that Tigers officials felt the rest would do him some good, allowing him to rest up for 2018.

All the while, team officials have been quiet on where Faedo might begin his pro career, preferring to let him get into Spring Training and pitch again before putting any expectations on him. Now, those first pitches will be in front of new pitching coach Chris Bosio, who said last Saturday at TigerFest that he has already spoken with the gifted young right-hander.

"Alex was a case that I was asked to call, because he's new to the organization," Bosio said, "and we were just making that we were on the same page as far as his throwing program and his workouts. I was very impressed. He's a well-spoken young man, driven young man, and he's definitely on the right track for a guy so early in his pro career."

Faedo's invite does not mean he'll be competing for a big league spot. Though the Tigers have set up a competition for the final spots in their rotation, they've emphasized all along that they want to exercise patience with Faedo and allow him to develop. Most likely, Faedo will spend the early part of Spring Training with the big league contingent -- and, notably, the Major League coaching staff, especially Bosio -- before heading to Minor League camp in March.

Rogers, the seventh-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline's Tigers list and sixth-ranked catching prospect across baseball, was less of a surprise. The former Astros prospect reached the Class A Advanced level before joining the Tigers as part of the Justin Verlander trade. Detroit considered sending Rogers to the Arizona Fall League, but the end-of-August trade came too late to put it together.

The Tigers always have a surplus of catchers in camp so pitchers aren't standing around waiting for somebody to catch their side sessions. Rogers will be one of seven catchers in camp, including starter James McCann, John Hicks and fellow catching prospect Grayson Greiner. McCann was not with the team at TigerFest last week, staying at home in Nashville, Tenn., to be with his wife and their newborn twins -- who arrived earlier than expected -- but manager Ron Gardenhire said McCann plans to be in camp when pitchers and catchers begin workouts Feb. 14.

Like Faedo, Rogers is not expected to compete for a roster spot. He'll likely open the season at Double-A Erie, but should benefit from the experience of working with Tigers pitchers -- much like McCann did four years ago before he made the team out of camp in 2015. Rogers, a third-round pick in 2016 out of Tulane, has a reputation as a very good defensive catcher who works well with pitchers.

Here's the full list of non-roster invites:

Right-handed pitchers: Victor Alcantara, Enrique Burgos, Kevin Comer, Alex Faedo, Mark Montgomery, Paul Voelker

Left-handed pitcher: Travis Wood

Catchers: Derek Norris, Brayan Pena, Arvicent Perez, Jake Rogers

Infielders: Alexi Amarista, Harold Castro, Kody Eaves, Edwin Espinal, Dominic Ficociello, Niko Goodrum, Pete Kozma, Ronny Rodriguez

Outfielders: Jim Adduci, Chad Huffman, Jason Krizan

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

4 Tigers arms land on Top 100 Prospects list

Righty starters Perez, Manning, Faedo, Burrows rank among baseball's best
MLB.com

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.

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.

Video: Top Prospects: Beau Burrows, RHP, Tigers

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.

Video: Top Prospects: Matt Manning, RHP, Tigers

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.

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Faedo, RHP, Tigers

Detroit Tigers, Franklin Perez

Rogers ranked among top 10 catching prospects

MLB.com

DETROIT -- The Tigers had to go outside the organization to fill a lot of positions over the last decade. Catcher is not one of them. If Jake Rogers develops as expected over the next year or two, Detroit won't need help behind the plate any time soon, either.

Rogers wasn't the headline prospect in the Justin Verlander trade, but there's a reason why the Tigers plucked him from the Astros system in the last-minute deal. He heads to Spring Training not only ranked as the top defensive catching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, but also the fifth-ranked catching prospect overall.

DETROIT -- The Tigers had to go outside the organization to fill a lot of positions over the last decade. Catcher is not one of them. If Jake Rogers develops as expected over the next year or two, Detroit won't need help behind the plate any time soon, either.

Rogers wasn't the headline prospect in the Justin Verlander trade, but there's a reason why the Tigers plucked him from the Astros system in the last-minute deal. He heads to Spring Training not only ranked as the top defensive catching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, but also the fifth-ranked catching prospect overall.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Rogers ranked eighth among catching prospects last year before finishing up a strong all-around first full Minor League season. His defensive skills were already known out of college, which is why the Astros used a third-round pick on the Tulane product. He hasn't disappointed, throwing out 46 percent of attempted base thieves last year.

Rogers' offensive contributions last season, however, opened some eyes. After putting up respectable numbers in the Midwest League at Quad Cities, Rogers advanced to the Carolina League and hit .265 (83-for-313) with 18 doubles, 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .814 OPS for Buies Creek. The 22-year-old's bump in power also came with a reduction of his strikeout rate.

Rogers finished up his season with two games at Class A Lakeland following the trade. He was in line for a spot in the Arizona Fall League, but was scratched from the Tigers' plans there. He could rejoin the Flying Tigers out of camp, but the Tigers could give him a push to Double-A Erie and pair him with what is expected to be a standout pitching staff led by top prospect Franklin Perez (who Rogers caught in the Astros system) and Beau Burrows.

Video: Top Prospects: Jake Rogers, C, Tigers

Though the Tigers' resurgence started 14 years ago with the signing of a veteran catcher in Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit has been able to promote catchers from the system into starting roles since Alex Avila became a regular in 2010. A midseason injury to Avila in 2015 allowed James McCann, a former Tigers top pick, to slide into a starting role.

McCann not only remains Detroit's starting catcher, he has a chance to take on a leadership role in a Tigers clubhouse that lost much of its veteran presence in trades last year. He's under team control through 2020, but between Rogers and Grayson Greiner, the Tigers have potential replacements in line if McCann is traded in the next couple years as part of the Tigers' rebuild. General manager Al Avila told Tigers radio voice Dan Dickerson earlier this month that they'll likely go year to year on contracts with McCann, who signed a one-year deal last week in his first year of arbitration eligibility.

Greiner, the Tigers' third-round pick in the 2014 Draft out of South Carolina, is also regarded as a strong defensive catcher. He threw out 37 percent of would-be basestealers at Erie last year while batting .241 (79-for-328) with 20 doubles, 14 homers, 42 RBIs and a .759 OPS.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

Stewart's goal: 'Get to The Show and stay there'

Tigers prospect displaying pop, potential in Minors, but seeking consistency
MLB.com

DETROIT -- The stretches when Christin Stewart looks every bit the power-hitting outfield prospect the Tigers desperately need in their rebuilding plans are easy to find. It's not just about the ball jumping off his bat toward the outfield fence. It's also about the former first-round pick shrugging off pitches he can't hit, thinking along with the pitcher.

"You have your mental bank you go through from when you faced them the last time, what he tried to do to get you out, stuff like that," Stewart said near the end of last season. "But they also have a report about you, how they pitched you. Especially being in the 3-4-5 hole, usually they remember who you are. They know how to have success against you. They try to go back to that. They're just trying to outsmart you, and you have to stay within yourself and not fall into their trap.

DETROIT -- The stretches when Christin Stewart looks every bit the power-hitting outfield prospect the Tigers desperately need in their rebuilding plans are easy to find. It's not just about the ball jumping off his bat toward the outfield fence. It's also about the former first-round pick shrugging off pitches he can't hit, thinking along with the pitcher.

"You have your mental bank you go through from when you faced them the last time, what he tried to do to get you out, stuff like that," Stewart said near the end of last season. "But they also have a report about you, how they pitched you. Especially being in the 3-4-5 hole, usually they remember who you are. They know how to have success against you. They try to go back to that. They're just trying to outsmart you, and you have to stay within yourself and not fall into their trap.

"You have to stay within the strike zone. You can't go chasing the stuff they want you to chase. You just have to stay within your zone, if that makes sense."

When Stewart does that, it not only makes sense, but it also looks easy. He'll confidently use his left-handed swing and pull a ball over the fence, or off the wall for a double, after taking a pitch to get in his count. It might be a week, or a game, or sometimes just an at-bat, but it reminds you why he was ranked for so long as the Tigers' best position-player prospect by MLB Pipeline until the flurry of Tigers midsummer trades brought in Jeimer Candelario and Daz Cameron.

And then Stewart will have at-bats when he looks nothing like that.

"He looks great one AB, and then he looks like he's chasing butterflies up there the next," his former manager at Double-A Erie, Lance Parrish, said last summer. "It's always a work to try to get hitters focused and balanced and where you want them to be. Sometimes you see it and then, poof, it goes away. And he's no different.

"He's got tremendous power, obviously. He'll go through stretches where he hits the ball, and then there's other times where it's, like, 'Man, what happened?' But as I've explained to these guys, the difference between you guys and the big league guys is they're more consistent than you are. Those stretches are fewer and far between, and they don't last very long, not for the good hitters, anyway."

Video: Christin Stewart is Minor League Player of the Year

The Tigers believe Stewart is good, and that he can make the strides to become more consistent. That's one reason they've practiced patience with him after his 30-homer season between Erie and Class A Advanced Lakeland in 2016 sent him vaulting up the Tigers' prospect rankings. He nearly matched that total this past season, homering 28 times for the SeaWolves, but they came in bunches.

Stewart powered through the early-season chill of April in Erie to bat .295 with a .991 OPS, but then he fell to a .235 average in May. He came through again for a .317 average and .891 OPS in June, then hit just .195 in July with nearly twice as many strikeouts (30) as hits (17). He leveled things out in August with six homers and a .255 average, but he closed with an 0-for-11 slump over his final three games in September.

The result for the season was a .256 average, one point above Stewart's 2016 rate, with similar power and a lower on-base percentage.

"For me, personally, it's just trying to stay more consistent, staying within myself and not trying to do too much at the plate," Stewart said. "I just have to try to stay more consistent at what I do best, which is getting that run in. If there's a runner at third with less than two outs, I feel like I should always get that run in at a very high clip."

If things go to plan, Stewart should get his first chance at Triple-A Toledo this year, putting him on Detroit's doorstep. The Tigers will exercise similar patience with him, giving him a chance to see more experienced Triple-A pitchers two and three times in a season, letting him get through his growing pains.

At some point, whether it's at season's end or in 2019, the Tigers need Stewart, both for the left-handed hitting and the power. If he makes it, the Tigers' rebuild will get a little easier with an offensive bump.

"You know there's an opportunity right there," Stewart said. "You play pro ball to try to get to the big leagues, try to get to The Show. That's my goal every day, try to get to The Show and stay there. I don't want to get there and bounce around. I want to get there and be able to stick. That's what I'm working towards every day."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

Prospect Lugo displaying talent, plate discipline

Infielder impressing since joining Tigers' system in July 2017
MLB.com

DETROIT -- The thing that stands out about Dawel Lugo is that he produces velocity. Whether it's with his arm in the infield, or off the bat at the plate, he sends baseballs going in a hurry. That caught the Tigers' eye when they were looking at position prospects to snare from the D-backs' system in a J.D. Martinez trade back in mid-July.

Lugo did not disappoint in either regard over six weeks at Double-A Erie.

DETROIT -- The thing that stands out about Dawel Lugo is that he produces velocity. Whether it's with his arm in the infield, or off the bat at the plate, he sends baseballs going in a hurry. That caught the Tigers' eye when they were looking at position prospects to snare from the D-backs' system in a J.D. Martinez trade back in mid-July.

Lugo did not disappoint in either regard over six weeks at Double-A Erie.

"He's very good, defensively. He's got a very strong arm," former SeaWolves manager Lance Parrish said. "All things considered, I like him a lot. I think he's got some serious potential. And the ball does jump off his bat, so that's always a good thing."

Of all the position prospects the Tigers acquired last summer, Lugo should be the next to arrive, following Jeimer Candelario. After a full season of Double-A ball -- combining for a .277 average, 27 doubles, five triples, 13 home runs, 65 RBIs and a .746 OPS between Jackson and Erie -- the 23-year-old Lugo is in line for a promotion to Triple-A Toledo, which would put him a short step from the rebuilding project in Detroit. The question would be the position.

Video: SF@ARI: Lugo stretches out for an athletic stop

Lugo began his pro career as a shortstop, but with depth at the position in Arizona's system, he shifted to third base in 2016. That's where he played in Erie upon arrival, but the Tigers' ensuing trade with the Cubs for Candelario gave Detroit more immediate help at the hot corner.

Not coincidentally, Lugo began playing more at second base down the stretch in Erie, starting 13 games there. If the Tigers trade Jose Iglesias at some point this coming season, shifting Dixon Machado across the infield would create an opening at second. If not, the spot would open up for 2019 once Iglesias becomes a free agent, giving Lugo a little more prep time.

Back in August, Lugo said he felt more comfortable at shortstop since it was his natural position, but he liked the quick reactions and strong throws required at third. But he also wasn't in a position to be picky. He just wanted to focus on doing his job, he said through a translator, and let the Tigers make the decision of where he would play.

"That's everyone's dream," Lugo said of cracking the Majors.

Video: MEX@ARI: Lugo extends the D-backs lead with a single

For what it's worth, Lugo picked up most of his playing time in winter ball at third base for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican League. More importantly, he picked up the bat, hitting .324 (24-for-74) with four doubles, four walks and six RBIs. The power wasn't as evident, but the contact was, striking out just seven times in 19 games.

That's a career trend as well, whether or not Lugo is hitting for power. He put up a relatively low rate of 72 strikeouts in 557 Double-A plate appearances last year, just over half as many strikeouts as base hits (143) for the season.

Aside from a July stretch when his aggressive approach might have gotten the best of him, Parrish said he saw a good amount of plate discipline from Lugo for someone his age. It hasn't translated into walks; his 33 last year marked by far the most in his career. But when he swings, he tends to put the ball in play, usually with quality contact.

"I always look at a young guy like him to see if he can actually hit a breaking ball. And he can," Parrish said. "He sits back. Once in a while he'll chase, but everybody does."

What Lugo does at Triple-A, where pitchers are older with a better grasp of offspeed and breaking pitches, will give a better glimpse into his big league potential at a number of positions. Depending on what else the Tigers do, or the rise of other infielders such as Isaac Paredes, Lugo's ability to play around the infield could well make him a valuable roster piece as a presence off the bench.

"He's a pretty talented guy," Parrish said.

Lugo ended last season ranked No. 15 on MLB Pipeline's list of Tigers prospects. He could tick up a couple more spots when the 2018 rankings are released next month.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Dawel Lugo

Tigers unearth a trade gem in Paredes

Shortstop, 18, uses powerful August stretch to turn heads
MLB.com

Arguably the most promising bat of the Tigers' rebuilding trades last summer pronounced his potential with one incredible August stretch. But there was more to Isaac Paredes' game than his three home runs in two games.

Those two efforts for Class A West Michigan at Lake County, coincidentally while Tigers general manager Al Avila was in town to watch the organization's No. 2 overall prospect Matt Manning, raised Detroit fans' hopes that they had found a gem in their July deals. Paredes was an 18-year-old shortstop in the Midwest League, and the lesser-known infield prospect in the week-old trade that sent Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs. Jeimer Candelario was on the cusp of the big leagues, but some scouts saw Paredes as the find. Those home runs had fans seeing it as a steal.

Arguably the most promising bat of the Tigers' rebuilding trades last summer pronounced his potential with one incredible August stretch. But there was more to Isaac Paredes' game than his three home runs in two games.

Those two efforts for Class A West Michigan at Lake County, coincidentally while Tigers general manager Al Avila was in town to watch the organization's No. 2 overall prospect Matt Manning, raised Detroit fans' hopes that they had found a gem in their July deals. Paredes was an 18-year-old shortstop in the Midwest League, and the lesser-known infield prospect in the week-old trade that sent Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs. Jeimer Candelario was on the cusp of the big leagues, but some scouts saw Paredes as the find. Those home runs had fans seeing it as a steal.

Top 30 Tigers prospects

The rest of the way was a reminder that Paredes was still a raw prospect, a teenager who began playing pro ball just a year earlier and signed in 2015 for an $800,000 bonus. After six hits and seven RBIs in two days, he went 8-for-73 with one extra-base hit and eight RBIs over his next 21 games. He labored out of that slump with three hits and two doubles in West Michigan's three-game Midwest League playoff series loss to Dayton, giving him some momentum heading into winter ball.

Add Paredes' stints for the Cubs' Midwest League affiliate in South Bend to his Whitecaps work, and the right-handed hitter batted .252 (114-for-452) with 28 doubles, 11 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .725 OPS. With a chance to catch his breath, he returned to his native Mexico and batted .370 (20-for-54) with a home run and seven RBIs in a 15-game stint for Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League.

Paredes also rose from the 19th-ranked prospect in the Cubs' system to the ninth-ranked Tigers prospect in MLB Pipeline's most recent rankings. He's the highest-ranked infielder in a system that had become dramatically thin in recent years, and became the focus of the Tigers' summer dealings.

Paredes' muscular build resembles a college upperclassman's, and fills out his 5-foot-11 frame. Despite the streakiness, his plate approach shows more maturity than his age. Even as he slumped in August, Paredes didn't rack up strikeouts, fanning as many times at West Michigan as he walked (13). He walked and struck out five times each in winter ball.

"He's got an advanced approach for his age," said Mike Rabelo, who managed Paredes at West Michigan before being promoted to Class A Advanced Lakeland this offseason. "You don't see him too much swinging at balls out of the zone like you would expect from an 18-year-old guy that has some pop. He's got a pretty good clue when he goes up there. That's the reason why we traded for him, when he holds that bat in his hands."

Paredes, speaking at season's end through translator and Whitecaps coach Jorge Cordova, said he tried to make an impression after the trade. Once he hit the home runs, he got away from his game.

"He just lost his plan, the way he's supposed to hit," Cordova said. "He was too comfortable, he wasn't concentrating, he was swinging the bat like crazy. He wasn't focused enough to hit the way he's supposed to hit."

A refocus, with a mechanical tip or two from then-Whitecaps hitting coach Mike Hessman, got him back to form.

Like many of the prospects the Tigers acquired in trades this summer, Candelario aside, Paredes is far from the doorstep to Detroit. His next logical step is Lakeland, where the Florida State League tends to humble power hitters.

Still, if he can build on his approach and keep learning rather than change, he has the strength and discipline to be the kind of impact-hitting young infielder the Tigers have struggled to produce in recent years since trading Devon Travis to Toronto for Anthony Gose.

Paredes might outgrow shortstop, and he began playing second and third base in spots down the stretch, but if he hits, the Tigers will find a place.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Isaac Paredes

Tigers nab outfielder Reyes in Rule 5 Draft

23-year-old spent '17 in the D-backs' organization, hit .292 in Double-A
MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Tigers closed out their active Winter Meetings by selecting outfielder Victor Reyes with the top pick in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

Reyes was a member of the D-backs' organization, and was Arizona's No. 18 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.The 23-year-old Venezuelan is a switch-hitting contact hitter with speed, and holds a .298 career batting average over five Minor League seasons. He batted .292 (140-for-479) this past season at Double-A Jackson with 29 doubles, five triples, four home runs, 51 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. He also played in the Arizona Fall League, where Tigers pro scouts watched the youngster extensively.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Tigers closed out their active Winter Meetings by selecting outfielder Victor Reyes with the top pick in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

Reyes was a member of the D-backs' organization, and was Arizona's No. 18 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.The 23-year-old Venezuelan is a switch-hitting contact hitter with speed, and holds a .298 career batting average over five Minor League seasons. He batted .292 (140-for-479) this past season at Double-A Jackson with 29 doubles, five triples, four home runs, 51 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. He also played in the Arizona Fall League, where Tigers pro scouts watched the youngster extensively.

Video: Mayo on Tigers selecting Reyes in Rule 5 Draft

The Tigers also had the insight of special assistant and longtime scout Mike Russell, who spent two years with the D-backs in a similar role.

"We'd seen him for a while," Tigers player development director Dave Littlefield said. "He's a good-looking center fielder, can play all three [spots], a switch-hitter that gets on base. He's still a projection with the bat, but very athletic. And with our situation as it is, it seemed to be a very good fit."

:: Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

The situation of a rebuilding project played a role in the pick. Much of the pre-Draft speculation centered on the Tigers using the top spot to supplement their bullpen ranks, and they were projected by some to covet hard-throwing Twins prospect Nick Burdi, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery but would provide high-upside talent if healthy. But with a thin outfield roster, even after signing free agent Leonys Martin last week, the Tigers went for more immediate help.

Reyes is expected to compete for at-bats in center field in Spring Training.

"Obviously with our situation, we're going to be younger in certain areas," Littlefield said. "That's a spot in center field where we went out and signed Martin. JaCoby Jones obviously will get a lot of opportunity. We'll see how it plays out with how [manager] Ron [Gardenhire] wants to handle it, but we're going in with the mindset that [Reyes is] going to get every opportunity. We like him as a player, so we'll see how it goes."

The question for Reyes, both this spring and long term, comes down to power, not so much home run power but extra bases in general. The outfielder's 29 doubles this year was by far his career high, but despite his speed, he has topped five triples in a season only once in his career. Likewise, his career high in stolen bases is 20.

Video: Victor Reyes talks about his three-hit game

"Strength is the major issue," Littlefield said. "He's a younger guy and kind of a slender build, but has a good idea of the strike zone, works the count well. He just needs strength for the most part, and I think that's why he was probably available."

D-backs general manager Mike Hazen hinted that Reyes' lack of power may have been the reason the outfielder was left unprotected for the Rule 5 Draft.

"He's a good player," Hazen told reporters. "Best of luck to him. He's a great kid. From a protection standpoint, we felt like it wasn't the right time to put him on the roster and we'll see. He'll have an opportunity over there, I would imagine, and good for him."

Though the Tigers were talking about taking a second Rule 5 player after freeing up another roster spot with Wednesday's trade of Ian Kinsler, they decided to pass after potential candidates went off the board. Detroit didn't have the roster spots to do anything in the Minor League phase, but it lost three players from its Double-A Erie roster. Catcher Locke St. John went to Texas, right-hander Francisco German to Tampa Bay and first baseman Will Allen went to the Marlins. 

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Victor Reyes

Tigers trade Kinsler to Angels for 2 prospects

Club receives OF Montgomery, RHP Hernandez in exchange for All-Star 2B
MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The yearlong, off-and-on trade saga of Ian Kinsler ended with one real option between familiar trade partners. The Tigers took it, sending their veteran second baseman to the Angels for two prospects on Wednesday night to continue their rebuilding project at the Winter Meetings.

In return, the Tigers received center fielder Troy Montgomery and right-hander Wilkel Hernandez, prospects ranked Nos. 20 and 24, respectively, in the Angels' system per MLBPipeline.com. The Angels, meanwhile, will cover the entirety of Kinsler's $11 million salary for next season.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The yearlong, off-and-on trade saga of Ian Kinsler ended with one real option between familiar trade partners. The Tigers took it, sending their veteran second baseman to the Angels for two prospects on Wednesday night to continue their rebuilding project at the Winter Meetings.

In return, the Tigers received center fielder Troy Montgomery and right-hander Wilkel Hernandez, prospects ranked Nos. 20 and 24, respectively, in the Angels' system per MLBPipeline.com. The Angels, meanwhile, will cover the entirety of Kinsler's $11 million salary for next season.

In the end, it was the one trade general manager Al Avila could execute. Though the Tigers were talking with four interested teams on Kinsler as recently as Wednesday, including the Mets, all four were on Kinsler's 10-team limited no-trade clause, which he updated at season's end.

Avila, based off talks he had with Kinsler at season's end regarding the direction of the club, hoped Kinsler would accept a deal to a contender. Once the Tigers reached out to Kinsler and his agent on Wednesday afternoon, the only interested club to which Kinsler would accept a trade was the Angels. The presence of former Tiger Justin Upton, traded by Detroit at the end of August, played a large factor in making Kinsler feel comfortable going.

"He basically used his no-trade," Avila said, "and the club he agreed to go to was the Angels. ... I talked to three other clubs, and those three clubs he would not go to."

That left Avila with a choice: Trade Kinsler to the Angels, or hold onto him into next season in hopes that another team not on his list potentially would grow interested. After holding onto Kinsler through trade discussions last winter and again near the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Avila didn't see the value in waiting some more with Kinsler turning 36 in June.

Hot Stove Tracker

"We went through it at the Trade Deadline this past summer; that didn't work," Avila said. "And now here we are, and I think it's time to move on. The longer you wait in this scenario, I don't know that [the return] would've been any better."

The deal ends a lengthy stand on the trading block for Kinsler, whom the Tigers had tried to trade at various points since last offseason. The combination of a tepid trade market and Kinsler's no-trade clause kept Kinsler in Detroit last offseason, holding back the club's roster remodeling until this past summer.

The Angels had been interested in Kinsler last summer, but they acquired Brandon Phillips from the Braves in August once Kinsler was blocked on waivers. With the Tigers' rebuild well underway, and with one more season at $11 million, Avila moved to swing a trade.

"It was one team," Avila said. "I had no leverage."

The deal formally ended Kinsler's four-year tenure in Detroit, where he became a clubhouse leader, All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner. Kinsler's .288 average, 28 home runs, 83 RBIs and .831 OPS helped propel the Tigers into playoff contention in 2016. He fell back offensively this past season to a .236 average, 22 homers, 52 RBIs and a .725 OPS.

Kinsler's 17.4 fWAR over four seasons in Detroit ranks third among Major League second basemen in that span behind Jose Altuve (23.9) and Brian Dozier (18.8). Kinsler's 57 Defensive Runs Saved since 2014 are 27 more than the next highest second baseman.

The 23-year-old Montgomery, an eighth-round pick in the 2016 Draft out of Ohio State University, batted .271 with eight home runs, 38 RBIs, 15 stolen bases and a .771 OPS across three levels of the Angels' farm system in 2017, ending up at Double-A Mobile. The left-handed hitter can play all outfield positions, but he was behind younger outfielders on the club's prospect rankings.

"He's a high-energy guy. He's got tools," Avila said. "And he's not too old, either."

Hernandez was an amateur signing out of Venezuela three years ago who made his American debut at the Rookie level this past season. The lanky 18-year-old went 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA in 12 outings, seven of them starts, between two stops, allowing 25 hits over 44 1/3 innings with 22 walks and 44 strikeouts.

"The pitcher's very young, so there's still upside there," Avila said. "The guy has a good pitcher's body. He throws in the mid-90s, he's topped out at 96. Obviously with young pitchers, the younger the guys are, the farther away [from the Majors] they are, but you like the upside. There's definitely upside there. He's definitely a prospect, a legit prospect."

Kinsler did not receive concessions to waive his no-trade clause, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. He is the sixth Tigers veteran to be traded since July, joining J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson, Alex Avila, Upton and Justin Verlander.

With the trade, Dixon Machado is expected to move to second base for at least part of his playing time. Avila said earlier this week the Tigers will also look for a Minor League signing or other acquisition, somebody who can play second base as well as other infield positions.

Neither prospect needs to be protected, leaving the Tigers' 40-man roster at 38 heading into Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. Detroit holds the top pick.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, Ian Kinsler

Breaking down potential returns for Kinsler trade

Tigers seeking prospects with impact bats for veteran second baseman
MLB.com

DETROIT -- The Tigers have been entertaining trade talks with teams for Ian Kinsler on and off since last fall. In that time, they've traded Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, all for prospects.

With the Tigers' rebuilding project now well underway and Kinsler entering the final year of his contract, it now appears it's his turn to go. What a deal could do for Detroit's rebuild depends on where he goes.

DETROIT -- The Tigers have been entertaining trade talks with teams for Ian Kinsler on and off since last fall. In that time, they've traded Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, all for prospects.

With the Tigers' rebuilding project now well underway and Kinsler entering the final year of his contract, it now appears it's his turn to go. What a deal could do for Detroit's rebuild depends on where he goes.

Hot Stove Tracker

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Monday that the Tigers have had talks with multiple teams regarding Kinsler, including the Angels and Mets. At least two other teams have shown interest in Kinsler as a third baseman, according to Morosi. The Angels were among the teams that had interest in Kinsler last summer; they ended up trading for Brandon Phillips in August after Kinsler was blocked on trade waivers. Earlier in August, the Mets traded away their veteran second baseman when they sent Neil Walker to the Brewers.

Phillips and Walker are both free agents this winter, and neither team has an heir apparent at second. And while Detroit officials hesitate to say Kinsler is sure to be traded this winter -- Avila has suggested his leadership would be useful on a young Tigers club in 2018 if he stays -- the motivation to trade him is higher than ever. His 10-team no-trade list remains, but with the Tigers' direction clear and only one year left on his contract, there's less motivation to stay and less of an impediment for teams to pursue.

The Tigers' targets are no different than they were during their trading spree over the summer. They need hitting and position prospects, even after adding slugging infielders Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes from the Cubs' system and Dawel Lugo from the D-backs' system in July. Though 14 of Detroit's Top 30 Prospects in MLBPipeline.com's rankings are position players, there's still a shortage of impact bats in the group.

Video: CWS@DET: Candelario's three-run shot to center

How much a Kinsler trade could address that is questionable, depending on the teams involved. While the Angels have a fit for Kinsler and a recent history of trades with the Tigers, their farm system remains relatively thin, an issue that dates back to the Justin Upton trade in August and Cameron Maybin trade last offseason. Three of their top five prospects per MLBPipeline.com are picks from the 2017 Draft. There's positional talent beyond that, but it comes with questions. In their previous two deals, the Tigers got pitching prospects in return for Maybin and Upton.

New York's farm system resembles the Tigers in that it's top-heavy on pitching. Gavin Cecchini, the Mets' eighth-ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com, filled in some at second base down the stretch after the Walker trade, but the former first-round Draft pick but did not show an impact bat in limited time, which would explain why Kinsler would appeal to them. Peter Alonso (seventh-ranked) showed power in the Florida State League, but he is a first baseman. Other position prospects have been slowed by injuries the last few years.

Video: NYM@ATL: Cecchini hits an RBI double to left-center

The Mets just added a middle-infield prospect to their 40-man roster as protection against the Rule 5 Draft. Luis Guillorme (No. 11) earned Eastern League All-Star honors at Double-A Binghamton. His defensive skills are highly-rated, maybe Major League ready. He doesn't boast a power bat, but he knows the strike zone well enough to draw 72 walks against 55 strikeouts in 128 games.

The Brewers, who expressed interest in Kinsler last summer before trading for Walker, have a deeper farm system from which to deal if they want to make another bid. Six of Milwaukee's top 14-ranked prospects are outfielders, a particular area of need for the Tigers.

Debates like these are among the reasons the Tigers expanded their pro scouting department last month. By having more scouts and allowing each one to focus on fewer teams, those scouts can dig deeper into each organization's farm system and try to find undervalued talent.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Ian Kinsler