Introducing the 2022 Tigers’ top 30 prospect rankings

Bless You Boys

Welcome to our top 30 prospect rankings for the Detroit Tigers’ farm system in 2022. While the players are still locked out by MLB owners, and there is little on that front to report, the show must go on anyway. The time is right to talk prospects while we wait for word of a breakthrough in collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Don’t start holding your breath on that one yet. We’d rather talk about the Tigers’ farm system.

For the moment, the system is still quite good, though that’s mostly the doing of their top two prospects, outfielder Riley Greene and first baseman Spencer Torkelson. Beyond them, there are several interesting pitchers and position players with decent chances to make an impact, but on the whole, the Tigers’ system gets thin fairly quickly and doesn’t boast the stockpile of 40/45 grade talents many other teams have on hand. Of course, you’ll take that deal every time, as Greene and Torkelson are on track to be impact players in the very near future, but the Tigers will have serious challenges in finding top tier talent once they’re gone. On the plus side, the major league club should be in pretty good shape for the time being, and that feels like a bit of a surprise given where they were just 15 months ago.

From the Tigers 2017 teardown through a rough 2020 all around, things didn’t trend all that well for the club considering their top picks and the amount of talent traded away. While nothing was expected at the major league level in the way of winning baseball games, they also had little luck identifying and developing anyone cast aside by other teams, despite a plethora of wide open roster spots. The organization dealt a few players like Nick Castellanos and Shane Greene, but the returns didn’t do a whole lot to boost the system. Meanwhile, many of the big trades they made in dismantling the club back in 2017 were tracking quite poorly.

With an unproven front office and an unproven owner, it was hard to like the Tigers’ chances of turning things around without several more years of frustration. They needed a boost. Fortunately, a host of things, from hiring A.J. Hinch to taking Akil Baddoo in the Rule 5 draft, to Jeimer Candelario and Gregory Soto, among many others, all finally broke right for them over the last 15 months, and with a couple of big free agent signings already this offseason, the foundation of a future contender is coming together.

For the Tigers’ amateur scouting and player development departments, the challenge now is to keep this going. From the beginning of their respective tenures as owner and general manager, Chris Ilitch and Al Avila have stressed that they are trying to build a consistent contender rather than a team that rides boom and bust cycles. To do that, the Tigers need to be better in the MLB amateur draft, better in their international signings, and better in their development of young players. The sweeping changes to the front office and player development staff in recent months is both a signal that they weren’t pleased with the progress, and hope that the organization is upping its game and can continue to succeed when they’re picking later in the draft with much smaller bonus pools.

The Tigers have continued to pull some interesting pitching talent far from the top rounds in the draft in recent years, which certainly helps the system’s depth in that regard. Our group of prospect writers were pretty pleased with the collection of young pitchers the Tigers slelected in the top ten rounds of the 2021 draft as well. However, names like Beau Brieske, Wilmer Flores, Jason Foley, and Garrett Hill, all of whom we have in our top 30 list, came from the backend of the draft or as cheap, undrafted free agents. Developing pitchers has been the relative strength of the organization since Al Avila took over as general manager, and there is enough talent on hand to expect quality help from the farm in that department over the next few years.

While finding good hitting talent outside the first round has been a struggle, they do have catching prospect Dillon Dingler, shortstop Ryan Kreidler, and several other younger positional prospects with a shot to work out who are featured in the top half of our rankings. Prep draftees like Colt Keith and Izaac Pacheco are just getting started, and either could potentially develop into an impact bat. Cristian Santana, an 18-year-old international free agent, is likely to be the best of the bunch, but hasn’t come stateside yet. The Tigers haven’t graduated a good major league hitter since Nick Castellanos, and while that will change shortly, they’ve got to do a lot better job to avoid another eight year drought.

The key to all of this, is that the farm system is under new management. Back in September, the Tigers hired a new Vice-President of Player Development, Ryan Garko, replacing long-time development chief, Dave Littlefield. Garko moved recent hire Kenny Graham into the hands-on role as Director of Player Development. Gabe Ribas was promptly hired as Director of Pitching, and since that point, a flurry of new coaching hires, many with Los Angeles Dodgers or Driveline Baseball coaching backgrounds, followed. The Tigers have been slowly modernizing the organization over the last few years, but this was a final, decisive break with the past that saw a lot of long-time personnel turned over in favor of the new breed.

With the Tigers’ relative success this season, they’ve reached the point where they’re no longer picking at the top of the draft. They’ve gone from trading talent for prospects to the point where the reverse will become the norm. Maintaining a productive farm system will become substantially more difficult assuming things go according to plan in the years ahead. The hope of the new leadership, is that the investments in personnel, analytics, sport science, and technology over the past few years, will help keep the pipeline of talent flowing.

Our 2022 top 30 prospects

  1. OF Riley Greene
  2. 1B Spencer Torkelson
  3. C Dillon Dingler
  4. RHP Jackson Jobe
  5. RHP Ty Madden
  6. RHP Reese Olson
  7. IF Cristian Santana
  8. SS Ryan Kreidler
  9. LHP Joey Wentz
  10. IF Izaac Pacheco
  11. IF Colt Keith
  12. IF Gage Workman
  13. RHP Dylan Smith
  14. OF Roberto Campos
  15. RHP Beau Brieske
  16. RHP Wilmer Flores
  17. RHP Alex Faedo
  18. IF Kody Clemens
  19. OF Daniel Cabrera
  20. RHP Tanner Kohlhepp
  21. IF Trei Cruz
  22. IF Wenceel Perez
  23. OF Parker Meadows
  24. RHP Jason Foley
  25. OF Jose de la Cruz
  26. OF Austin Murr
  27. IF Manuel Sequera
  28. IF Andre Lipcius
  29. RHP Garrett Hill
  30. OF Eric de la Rosa

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