Detroit News 2023 Top 50 Detroit Tigers prospects

Detroit News

Riley Greene arrived at Comerica Park in 2022. So did Spencer Torkelson, Kerry Carpenter, Beau Brieske, Joey Wentz, Alex Faedo, Garrett Hill, Kody Clemens, Jason Foley, and Ryan Kreidler.

Tigers kids steadily are coming — with more en route in 2023, including a likely batch of fresh flesh from the Detroit News 2023 Tigers Top 50 Prospects.

Hitters have begun a slight takeover of the Tigers’ top-tier farm talent. That probably comes as happy news to manager AJ Hinch, as he and Tigers followers search for signs an everyday lineup can, in time, pack enough punch to move from a roster’s construction phase to status as playoff contender.

Some of the names below will be part of Detroit’s aspirations there. The only annual caveat to Detroit News top-prospects presentations: If a player already has suited up for a big-league game, he no longer qualifies as “prospect.” He’s made it to The Show.

▶  1. Colt Keith: 21, 3B, 6-3, 249, left-handed hitter: The best hitter on Detroit’s farm could have checked into spring camp in February with an outside crack at making the big-league team — had he not separated his shoulder last June. Keith’s shoulder took its time healing before he resumed bashing the ball during a heartening Arizona Fall League stint. His defense at third base needs a boost, which could lead eventually to an outfield shift. But what all but guarantees a spot in the Tigers lineup no later than 2023 is Keith’s marvelous bat.

▶  2. Izaac Pacheco: 20, 3B, 6-4, 225, LH hitter: He was a year out of high school when the Tigers decided last summer Pacheco had seen enough at low-Single A Lakeland and needed a tougher test at high-A West Michigan. The Tigers have a potential middle-order monster here. In those 88 games at Lakeland, Pacheco — playing against mostly older, high-powered pitchers — batted .267, with a .342 on-base percentage and .758 OPS. He also had eight homers and 21 doubles while grabbing 38 walks against 80 strikeouts. He could be Erie-bound at some point in 2023. Detroit already is on the horizon.

▶  3. Jackson Jobe: 20, 6-2, 190, RH starter: Tigers could have a future ace ripening on the farm, which was what scouts envisioned when Jobe was made the 2021 MLB Draft’s No. 3 overall pick. Not even two years from his prep days, Jobe is on track to become a Tigers rotation piece as early as 2024. His 18-game warm-up at low-A Lakeland begot a push to high-A West Michigan where, in three games, he rolled up these numbers: 1.15 ERA, 0.96 WHIP. He has “premier stuff,” as they say in scouting circles, and by midseason easily could be ticketed for Double A.

▶  4. Jace Jung: 22, 6-foot, 205, 2B, LH batter: Tigers know what they got here with last July’s No. 12 overall draft pick:  A hitter. A steady hitter, who can knock a ball into the seats, welcome a walk, and be a solid everyday run-producer anywhere from 2-through-6 in a MLB lineup. Jung’s defense and range at second base are tasks for the Tigers development crew in 2023. But defense has a way of becoming overly enlarged on a critique sheet when Jung’s hitting skills already are so refined.

▶  5. Parker Meadows: 23, CF, 6-5, 205, LH batter: A dramatic, convincing 2022 season changed Meadows’ profile and hinted at everyday work at Comerica Park in 2024 — if he can keep up the good grades. Meadows is astonishingly fast, covers big acreage in center field, and, most importantly, showed last year that he can hang in against good pitching. His totals at West Michigan and Double-A Erie: 127 games, .270 batting average, .346 on-base, .473 slugging — .819 OPS. He had 20 home runs, 16 of them at Erie. Still a lot of work to do against left-handed pitching (.562 OPS), but Meadows made himself a contenduh in 2022.

▶  6. Wilmer Flores: 21, 6-4, 225, RH starter: Some scary upside for a brilliant pitcher who is a change-up away from working in Detroit. Flores’ easy motion, big-league-grade fastball and slider, and his body frame, helped him in 2022 to 19 starts at Erie when he was typically better than his final stats might imply: 3.01 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 83.2 innings, 67 hits, 95 strikeouts, 21 walks. He is a classic case of an undrafted “find” whose path from Venezuela to the United States allowed the Tigers to pounce. Very soon, he and Jobe could duel in Detroit for the title of Tigers ace.

▶  7. Ty Madden: 22, 6-3, 215, RH starter: The Tigers knew they had a steal in those early hours of the 2021 MLB Draft when Madden fell from Top 15 status — there were some money issues — to stunning availability at the 32nd-overall slot. What the Tigers got in grabbing the University of Texas’ top gun was a man with an extremely sharp quiver of pitches who in 2023 probably will pitch in Detroit. Here’s why, depicted clearly in his seven starts last summer at Erie: 2.78 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 35.2 innings, 28 hits, 49 strikeouts, 12 walks. There’s the usual work ahead in pitching to quadrants and keeping that fastball out of hitters’ demolition range. But this is a rotation regular for the Tigers who’s about to blossom.

▶  8. Justyn-Henry Malloy, 22, 3B/LF, 6-2, 212: He was the big prize in last week’s deal that sent Joe Jimenez to the Braves. Malloy will be at Comerica Park at some point in 2023, with his infield-outfield flexibility a nice ally alongside a bat that’s still evolving. Malloy’s chief assets, offensively, are knowing the strike zone and hitting a ball where it’s pitched — to any field. His defense, particularly at third base, could be problematic. But give him a tad more time to sort out realities there when his new team won’t immediately expect him to be Manny Machado.

▶  9. Wenceel Perez: 23, 5-11, 203, 2B, switch-hitter: Even as an adolescent in the Dominican Republic, this was a high-caliber talent, which led the Tigers to invest $550,000 (substantive, by typical Latin American signing standards) in a player who last season at Erie blossomed. He played 39 games at Double A, hitting .307, with a meaty .374 on-base percentage, and an equally lusty .914 OPS. In those 39 games, Perez, who handles both-sides pitching well, had five homers and five triples. There’s work to do on defense, but he has the physical tools to stick pleasingly at second base.

▶  10. Dillon Dingler: 24, 6-3, 210, C, RH batter: The Tigers know in Dingler they have their eventual catcher — defensively, anyway. He is an excellent receiver, shuts down an opposing running game, and calls a masterly game. But will the bat settle in? Dingler’s strikeout rate is 37%. Even with power offsetting some anxiety there, he must chop down on the whiffs, which has been at the heart of some swing adjustments that are being made ahead of 2023. A big test and season are ahead for Dingler.

▶  11. Cristian Santana: 19, SS, 6-foot, 165, RH batter: He had some oblique issues last season, which only temporarily stalled a shortstop so talented he could be a Top 5 Tigers showpiece by the end of 2023. Santana did not turn 19 until October and still put up these 80-game numbers at Lakeland, .379 on-base percentage, .745 OPS, with nine home runs. Defense and arm will determine if he sticks at shortstop. But prepare for what could be a dazzling 2023 from Santana.

▶  12. Reese Olson: 23, 6-1, 160, RH starter: That change-up Olson tosses is about as good as any in professional baseball. It might yet mean Olson is headed for prime-time work in a MLB bullpen. But no one is getting itchy quite yet. Not when Olson, in 26 games (25 of them starts) last season worked 119.2 innings, with a 4.14 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. His strikeouts-and-walks ratios per nine innings: 12.6 and 2.9. The Tigers got Olson in a 2021 trade for Daniel Norris. It looms as one of Al Avila’s best deals during his Tigers tenure.

▶  13. Abel Bastidas: 19, SS, 6-2, 165, SS: Switch-hitter who can play all three infield positions. Only last month turned 19. Size is a plus and power is developing by the week. He had 10 triples in only 44 games, as well as three homers, in the big Florida League ballparks. Must show he can handle left-handed pitching, but time, clearly, could be an ally there, especially for a young player who had a .361 on-base percentage (24 walks against 33 strikeouts).

▶  14. Roberto Campos: 19, OF, 6-2, 200, RH hitter: As Lakeland observers said with foundation last summer: “Campos probably leads all of baseball in 105-mph ground-outs.” Swing gurus are at work trying to chisel a bit more loft into Campos’ potentially big bat. It should be remembered a man still in his teens, playing 112 games at low-A, batted .258/.326/.385 for a .711 OPS. The Tigers paid Campos $2.85 million (then a team record for an international signing) in 2019 and in 2023 could be looking at a prospect ready to rumble.

▶  15. Josh Crouch: 24, 6-foot, 200, C, RH batter: He moved into big-league conversations in 2022 with a huge year at West Michigan (.290/.367/.445/.811 in 90 games), with 56 strikeouts and 38 walks. That earned him a bump to Double A, where he’ll likely begin 2023. The bat is approaching Comerica Park requirements. Defense, throwing, pitch-calling — if only he had Dingler’s game there, the Tigers would be looking at a probable answer to their everyday catching questions.

▶  16. Peyton Graham: 21, SS/3B, 6-3, 185, RH batter: He was the Tigers’ second-round snag in last July’s draft and it took all of a couple of games at Single-A Lakeland for even opposing scouts to conclude the Tigers got a blue-chipper in Graham. A blessed athlete who slammed 20 homers last season for the University of Oklahoma, he is a left-side infielder with skills broad enough to hint at double duty in the outfield. His 27-game data at Lakeland: .270/.345/.370/.715., one homer, 29 strikeouts and 10 walks. Graham will be at West Michigan very quickly, if not on Opening Day, in 2023.

▶  17. Danny Serretti: 22, SS/2B/3B, 6-1, 195, switch-hitter: Here was a 2022 sixth-round pick (University of North Carolina) who played more like a top-50 prize during his 27-game, three-level summer cameo on the Tigers farm, which finished at Double-A Erie. Serretti’s cumulative numbers: 315 batting average, .474 on base, .442 slugging, with two home runs as part of that .946 OPS. He struck out 21 times and rolled up 24 walks, with seven stolen bases. Serretti would qualify as one to watch — closely — in 2023.

▶  18. Reylin Perez, 18, SS/2B, 5-11, 160, switch-hitter: Tigers are catching up in the international sphere after some thin years, and Perez might be one of their definitive steals. He will be in the States this season after blistering the Dominican Summer League in 2022: 50 games, .306 batting average, .457 on-base (38 walks), .592 slugging, which amounts to your basic 1.049 OPS. Note that he switch-hits — with roughly equal ease from either side.

▶  19. Dylan Smith: 22, 6-2, 180, RH starter: Will be working at Erie in 2023 and inching his way toward probable service at Comerica Park, maybe quickly. This is not dramatic news in that Smith was the University of Alabama’s ace ahead of the Tigers making him the 2021 MLB Draft’s first pick of the third round. Last season at West Michigan (20 games, 19 starts): 4.00 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 83.1 innings, 78 hits, , 86 strikeouts, 21 walks. Sophisticated pitcher with a chance to assist in Detroit as early as this season.

▶  20. Andre Lipcius: 24, 6-1, 190; 3B/2B/1B; RH batter: Note the Tigers gave Lipcius 40-man roster protection to guard against him being poached in last week’s Rule 5 Draft. The reason:  versatile infield skills, as well as an 88-game run last season at Erie where he batted .302, with an .841 OPS. Lipcius got a late-season Triple-A promotion and figures into a broad mix of potential answers at third base as the Tigers plunge into 2023. Sturdy showing by a former third-round pick from the University of Tennessee.

▶  21. Brant Hurter: 24, 6-6, 250, LH starter: Pitched at three levels last season, from Lakeland to Erie, with his West Michigan numbers emblematic of why Hurter (seventh round, 2021, Georgia Tech) has a good shot at Detroit: 11 games, 10 starts, 3.20 ERA, 1.08 WHIP: Strikeout-to-walks ratios of 11.0/2.0.

▶  22. Elvis Alvarado: 23, 6-4, 183, RH reliever: Tigers a year ago made a handsome grab in the minor league Rule 5 aisle, plucking Alvarado from the Mariners. He dazzled in 23 games at West Michigan before heading for Erie, where in 20 appearances he had a 1.015 WHIP.

▶  23. Manuel Sequera: 20, SS/2B/3B, 6-1, 170, RH batter. He turned 20 in September — and last season in 116 games hit 19 homers for Lakeland in those most spacious Florida State League ballyards. The problem: that .279 on-base average, courtesy of too many swings at too many non-strikes (110 strikeouts, 20 walks).

▶  24. Seth Stephenson: 21, OF, 5-9 165, RH batter: Seventh-round pick last July from the University of Tennessee. And very fast. He played in only 10 games at Lakeland, (.233 batting average, but had nine steals). He batted .339 in 59 games last season at Tennessee: .408 on-base, and .916 OPS.

▶  25. Brendan White: 24, 5-11, 185, RH reliever: Tigers made sure White was chained to their 40-man group heading into 2023. For this reason: 48 games at Erie, 2.67 ERA, 0.91 WHIP.

▶  26. Javier Osorio, 17, SS, 6-foot, 165, RH batter: Tigers scouts saw enough from Osorio during his early adolescence to commit $2.2 million, believing a Venezuela native has All-Star-grade potential.

▶  27. Chance Kirby: 27, 5-11, 165, RH starter: Don’t be surprised when in 2023 Kirby crashes Comerica Park. He could be next season’s Garrett Hill. His data last season at Erie: 29 games (21 starts), 2.62 ERA, 0.94 WHIP.

▶  28. Mason Englert, 23, 6-4, 206, RH starter: Assuming health cooperates, bet on Englert showing enough at spring camp to head north and convince the Tigers they made a fine Rule 5 pick in snaring Englert from the Rangers.

▶  29. Adam Wolf: 25, 6-5, 215, LH reliever/starter: Former fifth-rounder from Louisville who was strong in 35 games (11 starts) last season at Erie: 2.72 ERA, 1.299 WHIP.

▶  30. Eliezer Alfonzo: 23, C, 5-10, 155, switch-hitter: In a farm system pleading for catchers, it’s wise to remember Alfonzo, who, if he stays in one piece in 2023, could potentially be one of the Tigers’ rapid-climbers. He played in only 21 games last year, 12 at West Michigan: .354 batting average. .421 on-base, .500 slugging, with two homers and a double.

▶  31. Ty Mattison, 23, 6-4, 235, RH reliever: Showed last season at Lakeland why this fourth-round pick (2021, Bryant University) will be climbing at least a notch in 2023. In 24 games, he had strikeout-to-walk ratios of 12.7 and 2.7.

▶  32. Troy Melton, 22, RH starter, 6-4, 210: Melton was last July’s fourth-round prey, from San Diego State, and should, sometime next spring, be showing up at West Michigan for a nice 2023 initiation.

▶  33. Austin Bergner: 25, 6-5, 210, RH starter:  Another of those lads who, knowing how many starters a big-league club runs through in a given season, could find his way into a MLB boxscore in 2023. He tossed eight games at Toledo, and 19 at Erie where his ERA (2.38) and WHIP (1.06) hinted at why the Tigers liked him as a ninth-round pick in 2019 (University of North Carolina).

▶  34. Tanner Kohlhepp: 23, 6-4, 210, LH reliever: Was a fifth-rounder in 2021 from the University of Notre Dame and could be fighting his way onto the mound late in 2023 following last spring’s Tommy John surgery.

▶  35. Gage Workman: 23, 3B/SS/2B, 6-3, 202, switch-hitter: Such a tantalizing talent, Workman, who plays All-Star defense at any position and who pounded 14 homers and 30 doubles last season at Erie. It’s that other issue: He struck out 206 times in 375 at-bats. That’s 43%.

▶  36. Jack Anderson, 23, 6-3, 197, RH reliever: Tigers had Anderson as part of this autumn’s Arizona Fall League contingent. For good reason: His combined Lakeland/West Michigan numbers were strong on strikeouts and low on walks (10.9 and 2.1 ratios).

▶  37. Keider Montero: 22, RH starter, 6-1, 145: A frustrating talent, Montero, but it seemed all was aligned in the 2022 season’s second half at West Michigan: 2.16 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in August; .218 opposing batting average and .091 WHIP in September.

▶  38. Marco Jimenez: 23, RH reliever, 5-11, 239. Was on his way, in imposing fashion, before Tommy John surgery in 2021 slowed his timeline. He’ll be at full throttle in 2023.

▶  39. Yaya Chentouf: 25, 5-9, 205, RH reliever: The “bulldog” tag will be heard, repeatedly, about this University of Pittsburgh product who was Old Reliable last season at Erie: 49 games, 1.14 WHIP, 57.2 innings, 51 hits, 65 strikeouts, 15 walks.

▶  40. Sawyer Gipson-Long: 25, 6-4, 225, RH starter: He was an original sixth-round (2019) pick by the Twins, who shipped him to the Tigers last summer as payment for Michael Fulmer. He’s an innings-eater who could prove beneficial, even in 2023.

▶  41. Dario Gardea: 23, 6-2, 210, RH reliever: Lots of potential here, as was shown in 2022 at West Michigan in 24 games: 1.76 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. Did not fare as well at Erie, but it’s early.

▶  42. Jake Higginbotham: 26, 6-0, 190, LH reliever: He was the additional trade chip included by the Braves in last week’s trade that sent Joe Jimenez to Atlanta. Nothing distinguished — but competent lefties tend to help in a bullpen.

▶  43. RJ Petit: 23, 6-8, 300, RH reliever: Tigers will want to make sure that Comerica Park mound is sturdy when Petit thunders to the rubber. He’s a big lad, with big pitches: 1.22 WHIP in 40 games last season at West Michigan.

▶  44. Andrew Magno: 24, 5-11, 190, LH reliever: Needs to trim down the walks, but Magno, during 47 games at West Michigan, struck out almost 12 batters per nine innings before getting a bump to Double A.

▶  45. Jack O’Loughlin: 22, 6-5, 223 LH reliever: Direct from his native Australia, O’Loughlin has enough stuff and youth to suggest another lefty could find late-innings work in the big leagues.

▶  46. Adinso Reyes: 21, 6-1, 195, 3B/SS, RH batter: Has power and, with more health than he enjoyed in 2022, a possible big year ready to bloom.

▶  47. Trevin Michael, 25, 6-2, 200, RH reliever: He was a 10th-round bet by the Tigers last July after working as a bullpen bulldozer for the University of Oklahoma.

▶  48. Zack Hess: 25, 6-6, 219, RH reliever: Tommy John surgery has interrupted Hess’ schedule, but expect him back, strong, after a typical recovery.

▶  49. Gerson Moreno: 27, 6-foot, 218, RH reliever: The good news at Erie where Moreno pitched in 48 games and 57 innings: 33 hits, 96 strikeouts. The bad news: 33 walks.

▶  50. Dominic Johnson: 21, OF, 5-9, 185, RH batter: Tigers liked what Johnson showed at Kansas State and last July made him a possibly shrewd 13th-round pick. Gets on base and has some muscle.

Best of the rest

The line is fine between Top 50 status and those who narrowly miss. It’s also a fact that any player from the next tier can be, and often is, among a farm system’s bust-out movers and shakers.

▶  Jake Holton, 24, 1B/OF; Gio Arriera, 24, RH starter; Garrett Burhenn: 23, RH starter; Carlos Guzman, 24, RH reliever;  Patrick Pridgen Jose Diaz: 22, RH reliever; Andrew Jenkins, 22, 1B/OF; Matt Walker: 24, LH reliever; Carlos Pena, 24, LH starter; Gabe Sequeira, 25, LH reliever; Bryant Packard: 25, OF; Ben Malgeri: 22, CFer; Jose De La Cruz, 20, OF; Alvaro Gonzalez, 22, 2B; Quincy Nieporte, 28, 1B/DH; Jake Miller, 21, LH starter; Trei Cruz, 24, IF; Luke Gold, 22, IF; Iverson Leonardo, 21, OF; Carlos Irigoyen, 21, IF; Austin Murr, 23, 1B/OF; Bryce Tassin, 25, RH reliever; Jared Tobey, 26, LH reliever; Max Green, 26, LH reliever; Jose Reina, 21, OF; Lazaro Benitez, 23, OF; Chris Meyers, 23, IF; Manuel Garcia, 22, C; Joe Miller, 22, LH starter; Cole Stupp, 22, RH starter.

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