Baseball American and numerous other baseball prospect sites are moving through the process of naming each team’s top prospects for next season and BA just released Detroit’s last week. The list is based on potential and Baseball America is considered the go to when it comes to prospects.
Here’s the list and how that player fared in 2016…
- Matt Manning, RHP – Manning was the 9th overall pick in the 2016 draft and I guarantee one of the first things you will read about him is about his athleticism and his father Rich who played in the NBA. What I like is the kid is 6’6” at 18-years old and could grow another inch. What I am afraid of, is that from all reports, he may remain lanky and unable to add weight to his frame for durability purposes. After being drafted, Manning went to rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League, where he made 10 starts, was 0-2, with a 3.99 ERA, a 1.159 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9 rate, and 14.1 K/9 rate. Expect Manning to move up to West Michigan to start the 2017 season.
- Christin Stewart, OF – The 22-year old Stewart (34th pick in 2015 draft) started out at High-A Lakeland, where he played most of the season (104 games), crushing 24 homers and driving in 68, but is a typical feast or famine type guy right now, as he hit .264 there with 105 K’s in 442 PA’s. Steward finished the season in Erie (Double-A), where he played 24 games and continued hitting homers (6) and striking out (26 in 100 PA). In total, Stewart hit .255 in 2016, with 30 homers, 87 RBI, 77 Runs, 24 doubles, 131 K’s, and a .903 OPS. I’d expect Stewart to start in Erie, with a chance to move up to Toledo in 2017.
- Beau Burrows, RHP – Burrows was the Tigers 1st round pick (22nd) in the 2015 draft out Weatherford HS, in Texas. Watching Burrows could help dictate the path taken by Manning, as Burrows started out in rookie ball last year and moved his way up to West Michigan (A-Ball) for the 2016 season, where he was 6-4, with a 3.15 ERA in 20 starts (21 games pitched), had a 1.206 WHIP, walked 2.8 per 9 and struck out 6.2 per 9, down from 10.6 in 2015. I’m guessing Burrows starts out in Lakeland (High-A) in 2017, to continue building his innings up.
- Tyler Alexander, LHP – Tyler hits the list after being drafted by the Tigers in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft out of TCU. Similar to Stewart, Alexander started out in High-A Lakeland before finishing the season out at Double-A Erie. At 21, Tyler made 18 starts (19 games pitched) at Lakeland, where he was 6-7, with a 2.21 ERA, with a 1.010 WHIP, 1.4 BB/9 ratio, and 7.2 K/9 rate. From there, he didn’t, miss a beat as he was 2-1, with a 3.15 ERA, 1.165 WHIP. For the season Alexander finished 8-8, with a 2.44 ERA, in 136.1 innings, had a 1.049 WHIP, walked 1.3 per 9 and struck out 6.9 per. I fully expect Tyler to start out at Double-A Erie in 2017.
- Kyle Funkhouser, RHP – Funkhouser completed his first season as a professional, where he pitched in low-A Connecticut in the New York-Penn League, after being drafted in the 4th round by Detroit out of Louisville. The 22-year old started in 13 games with innings limits (37.1 IP) and was 0-2 with a 2.65 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 1.9 walk rate per 9 and 8.2 K rate a game. Expect Kyle to pitch in Lakeland to start the 2017 season.
- JaCoby Jones, OF/3B – Jones came to Detroit in 2015 as part of the Joakim Soria trade with the Pirates and was a top-10 prospect right away. Jones was suspended for the first 50 games of the season for violating the substance abuse policy, but hit well in Erie (Double-A) his first 20 games back, with a .312 average, 12 extra base hits, and a .991 OPS. He was moved up to Triple-A Toledo where he hit .243, struck out 97 times in 324 PA, but still collected another 22 extra base hits there. On August 30th, JaCoby was called up by Detroit to play against the Chicago White Sox and delivered a much needed spark as he collected four hits in his first two games, including three doubles, and two RBI, one of which was game winning. Quickly after that, Jones started to struggle at the plate, collecting only two more hits on the season and striking out 11 times in 20 PA’s. With a hot spring, Jones could make his way to Detroit, but starting in Toledo would be best to help with plate discipline issues.
- Mike Gerber, OF – Gerber makes the list as a 23-year outfielder, who was drafted by Detroit in the 15th round out of Creighton University. Gerber played 91 games in Lakeland (High-A) before being moved up to Erie (Double-A), where he competed in 41 games. At Lakeland, Mike hit .282 with 14 homers and 60 RBI, while striking out 111 times in 388 PA, but did have a .824 OPS. At Erie, Gerber hit .261, with 4 more homers, 20 more RBI, and 41 more K’s. For the season, that is a .276 batting average, 69 runs scored, 30 doubles, 9 triples, 18 homers, 80 RBI, 152 K’s, and a .811 OPS. Expect Mike Gerber to start back in Erie in 2017 and work on cutting down those strike outs.
- Adam Ravenelle, RHP – Ravenelle was a 4th round selection in the 2014 draft out of Vanderbilt and like players on this list before him, started in Lakeland (High-A) and made it to Erie (Double-A) in 2016. As a23-year old reliever, Ravenelle had a 2.86 ERA in Lakeland after 23 games pitched, a 1.200 WHIP, struggled with walks with 5.4 per 9, but made up for it with a strike out rate of 10.8 per game. In Erie, Adam struggled dialing back the walks slightly, but also striking out fewer batters while adjusting to the elevated talent level. During his time in Erie, Adam had a 4.85 ERA, 1.551 WHIP, 4.9 BB/9 rate, and a 7 K/9 rate. The WHIP was way up due to the hit rate being much higher between stops (5.4 in Lakeland, 9.1 in Erie). I believe we’ll see Adam in Erie to start the 2017 campaign.
- Steven Moya, OF – Moya’s been a fringe guy the last three years, seeing the most time in the Major’s in in 2016, with 100 PA. In Toledo, Moya continued to show off his biggest attribute of power in 2016, where he clubbed 20 homers in 426 PA. I also believe he did a fairly decent job in Detroit, as he hit .255, with 5 homers, but was exposed as to be expected for 38 K’s om those 100 plate appearances. All-in-all, I’d hope Moya starts out in Detroit, as the .790 OPS in a limited role is intriguing enough to me
- Derek Hill, OF – Well, the early read on Hill when he was drafted in the 1st round in 2014 (23rd) was that he had a Major League ready glove for Center Field, but had to develop his bat. Hill’s offense, will most definitely be the thing that holds the 20-year old back if anything (well, and injury), as he had hit just .224 before this season in limited games to a couple injuries. In 2016, Hill was once again bitten by the injury bug, but when he did play, Hill showed improvement at the plate, where he hit .266 in 384 PA, had 17 doubles, 6 triples, and a homer, to go along with 35 steals (6 CS), and a .661 OPS. Still, Hill struck out just about 1 in every 4 plate appearances, so besides being healthy, he’ll need to work on contact to use his speed. As long as he’s healthy, I’m guessing Hill starts out in High-A Lakeland.
As much as I love Baseball America, I have to ask where is Joe Jimenez??? Leaving him off this list blows my mind, as Joe made it through 3 levels of ball this season (Lakeland, Erie, and Toledo), and didn’t miss a step. At Lakeland the 21-year old reliever, threw 17.1 innings of scoreless ball (17 appearances), striking out 13.1 per 9. In Erie, Jimenez threw another 20.2 innings where he had a 2.18 ERA and a 14.8 K rate. Lastly, in Toledo, he pitched another 15.2 innings, had a 2.87 ERA and a 9.2 K per 9 rate. Overall, in 2016, Joe Jimenez was 3-3, with a 1.51 ERA, with a 0.801 WHIP, 2.9 walks per 9 rate, and 13.1 K’s per 9. Odd…