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Weekly Prospect Update: Detroit Tigers

For the most part, it was a season to forget for the Detroit Tigers. They finished 64-98 and in the cellar of the American League Central. In an attempt to rebuild, the Tigers traded away star outfielders J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton, as well as franchise icon Justin Verlander. With these big names gone, it opens the door for some of the Tigers’ top prospects to make their way to the show.

10. Michael Gerber, OF

  • Age: 25
  • Drafted: 2014, Round 15(460) – DET
2017 stats: (High-A Lakeland): 5 games, .444/.500/.667, 2 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, 7K. (Double-A Erie): 92 games, .291/.363/.477, 13 HR, 45 RBI, 62 R, 10 SB, 39 BB, 85 K. (Triple-A Toledo): 4 games, .412/.444/.706, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K. 

It’s not often you see a 15th round Draft pick jump into the top-10 as quickly as Gerber did. In just three seasons, Gerber ranks as the Tigers’ No. 10 overall prospect and his stock is steadily rising. He spent time at three Minor League levels in 2017, playing the bulk of his games at Double-A. He was consistent across all three levels, batting .444, .291, and .412 at High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, respectively. While they were small sample sizes at High-A and Triple-A, his .291 average over 92 games at Double-A was impressive. He also added 13 homers, 45 RBI and swiped 10 bags. Gerber is trending in the right direction and could prove useful to the Tigers as early as 2018.

9. Isaac Paredes, SS

  • Age: 18
  • Signed out of Mexico in 2015 – CHC
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
2017 stats: (Single-A South Bend): 92 games, .264/.343/.401, 7 HR, 49 RBI, 49 R, 29 BB, 54 K. (Single-A West Michigan): 32 games, .217/.323/.348, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 16 R, 13 BB, 13 K. 

The Cubs signed Paredes out of Mexico in 2015. WIth their crowded infield throughout the system, they deemed Paredes expendable and shipped him to Detroit at the All-Star break. At 18, Paredes has plenty of pop and is learning not to sell out for it too often. He has a great feel for hitting, as well as the game altogether. In 92 games in the Cubs’ system, Paredes batted .264 with seven homers and 49 RBI. He tailed off after joining the Tigers but still put together a solid season as a teenager.

8. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 4(115) – DET
2017 stats: (Minors – A, A+): 62.2 IP, 5-2, 2.44 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 83 K, 19 BB.

Once a first-round Draft candidate, Funkhouser turned into a gamble after a subpar finish to his college career. It has since paid off, as he has performed well since turning pro. His command has been superb and all of his pitches looked average or better. He split time between Single-A and High-A in 2017, throwing 31.1 innings at both. All around it was a great season for Funkhouser. Across both levels, he posted a 2.44 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while keeping hitters batting .230. His 83:19 K:BB ratio was great, and he did an even better job at limiting the long ball, giving up just four. 2017 was the best we’ve seen Funkhouser, and if he keeps it up, he could be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.

7. Jake Rogers, C

  • Age: 22
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 3(97) – HOU
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
  • lists: Top 10 Catchers (#8)
2017 stats: (Single-A Quad Cities): 27 games, .255/.336/.520, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 17 R, 9 BB, 28 K. (High-A Buies Creek): 83 games, .265/.357/.457, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 43 R, 13 SB, 44 BB, 72 K.

Rogers was putting together a solid first full-season when the Tigers acquired him as part of the Verlander deal. In 110 games split between SIngle-A and High-A, Rogers batted .263 with 18 homers and 70 RBI. His success at the plate in 2017 was an encouraging sign, considering he’s always been a defensive catcher. While that defense will likely be the tool that gets him to the Majors, his bat will determine how long he stays. Rogers played just two games since joining Detroit, but the Tigers like what they saw in their new acquisition.

6. Christian Stewart, OF

  • Age: 24
  • Drafted: 2015, Round 1(34) – DET
2017 stats: (Double-A Erie): 136 games, .256/.355/.501, 28 HR, 86 RBI, 67 R, 56 BB, 138 K.

The Tigers were compensated with a first-round Draft pick after losing Max Scherzer after the 2014 season. They turned that pick into Stewart, who has not disappointed. Stewart has some of the most serious pop in the entire system. He showed it off in his first professional season and again in 2017. Stewart blasted 28 homers, knocked in 86 runs and maintained a respectable .256 average in 136 games. He increased his walk rate as well, which has helped offset all the strikeouts. Stewart’s power should get him to the Majors sooner rather than later, where he could be a solid power threat in the middle of the lineup.

5. Daz Cameron, OF

  • Age: 20
  • Drafted: 2015, CBA(37) – HOU
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
2017 stats: (Single-A Quad Cities): 120 games, .271/.349/.466, 14 HR, 73 RBI, 79 R, 32 SB, 45 BB, 108 K.

The Tigers scored another top prospect in the Verlander deal with Cameron. He had a slow start to his professional career but really showed how valuable he is during the second half of 2017. Despite a slow first two months, Cameron worked his average all the way up to .271 by the end. He also showed a nice combination of power and speed, blasting 14 homers and swiping 32 bags. There’s still plenty to improve on, but Cameron is a very toolsy player with a high ceiling. If he hasn’t already, he could prove to be the big prize in the Verlander deal.

4. Beau Burrows, RHP

  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 2015, Round 1(22) – DET
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#85)
2017 stats: (High-A Lakeland): 58.2 IP, 4-3, 1.23 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 62 K, 11 BB. (Double-A Erie): 76.1 IP, 6-4, 4.72 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 75 K, 33 BB.

Burrows took a huge step forward in 2017. At 20 years old, Burrows has a lively fastball that he’s learned to control well. It’s helped him induce more swing and misses and limit walks. His development is coming along nicely, as he’s consistently improved each season. In 11 starts at High-A, Burrows dominated his competition with a 1.23 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. He walked just 11 batters in 58.2 innings while striking out 62. His numbers weren’t as flashy after being promoted to Double-A, but he showed he’s moving in the right direction.

3. Alex Faedo, RHP

  • Age: 22
  • Drafted: 2017, Round 1(18) – DET
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#66)
2017 stats: Has not played. 

Of the five guys in the Tigers’ top 10 that were first-round Draft picks, Faedo is the newest. The Tigers took him with the No. 18 overall selection in this year’s Draft, and he immediately landed toward the top of the list. The righty has an impressive fastball-slider combo that misses a ton of bats when he’s on. Faedo hasn’t made his professional debut yet, but the Tigers think they got a bargain in the 22-year-old.

2. Matt Manning, RHP

  • Age: 19
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 1(9) – DET
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#61)
2017 stats: (Low-A Connecticut): 33.1 IP, 2-2, 1.89 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 36 K, 14 BB. (Single-A West Michigan): 17.2 IP, 2-0, 5.60 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 26 K, 11 BB.

While Faedo may be the most recent first-round Draft pick, Manning was taken the earliest. He was taken with the No. 9 overall selection in 2016 and has not disappointed. Manning was one of the best pitchers in the New York-Penn League before being promoted to SIngle-A. In 33.1 innings he posted a 1.89 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. He struggled in five starts at SIngle-A, posting a 5.60 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over 17.2 innings. Manning is still just a teenager, but he already projects as a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.

1. Franklin Perez, RHP

  • Age: 20
  • Signed out of Venezuela in 2014 – HOU
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#41)
2017 stats: (High-A Buies Creek): 54.1 IP, 4-2, 2.98 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 53 K, 16 BB. (Double-A Corpus Christi): 32 IP, 2-1, 3.09 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 25 K, 11 BB.

Perez was the main piece in Houston’s package for Justin Verlander. He’s come a long way since signing as a 16-year-old and is already establishing himself as a top prospect at 19. Perez reached Double-A for the first time this year where he pitched well in six starts. Combined with High-A, Perez totaled 86.1 innings and was 6-3 with a 3.02 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He’s still young, but he’s well on his way to establishing himself as one of the better pitching prospects in the game.

For more on the Tigers’ minor league system, check out this episode of The Baseball Show, which features guest Emily Waldon.

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