50. Alexander Nunez – Second Baseman
Nunez is still a talented ball player, but he is finding he has more work to do to succeed against stateside competition. He plays a solid second base with good instincts and above-average range, but he often loses focus in the field. There is potential to hit for average, but he must work to recognize pitches better to be able to work counts and square balls up more consistently. If Nunez can demonstrate an improved work ethic and greater desire, he could still fulfill his potential.
49. Gabriel Purroy – Catcher
Purroy’s first season stateside was one where he was forced to see time at High-A Lakeland, in advance of his readiness for the level. Purroy’s defense showed some signs of being a plus tool for him, but he must learn to handle velocity better and he is still learning to receive the ball quietly and confidently, and how to handle a pitching staff. With some pop in his bat, Purroy has enough offensive potential to profile as a potential part time or backup catcher.
48. Ramon Lebron – Right-handed Pitcher
Lebron’s right arm can light up the radar gun on nearly every pitch, with a fastball that can get up to 98 at times. His control is well below-average, and as one might guess, his command borders on terrible. Lebron has little feel for a breaking ball or a change-up, and he will need one or the other to succeed against hitters outside of short-season ball. He is likely destined for the bullpen eventually, and if he can throw more strikes and find something with a wrinkle in it, he could be an interesting late inning option.
47. Benny Paulino – Right-handed Pitcher
Paulino is another right-hander that can blaze fastballs in the mid- to upper-90s. He will enter the 2011 season at just 18-years old, and he has more velocity in the tank as he fills out his lanky 6-foot-4 frame. One organizational member was quite adamant when he stated that Paulino has a chance to have a “special arm.” At times, he shows an ability to spin a curveball and some feel for a change-up, but they are far away from being even average offerings.
46. Jeff Ferrell – Right-handed Pitcher
The Tigers 26th round pick last summer, Ferrell shocked everyone with a fantastic debut summer in the Gulf Coast League. He shows a fastball that can get up to 92 with some regularity, and he is not afraid to challenge inside. With some improved ability to locate to both sides of the plate, and a tightening of his curveball, Ferrell could profile as a mid- or back of the rotation starter.
45. Jamie Johnson – Outfielder
Johnson was TigsTown’s West Michigan Player of the Year in 2010, and his year merited plenty of attention. Johnson’s game revolves around getting on base, running and playing defense, and he does them all quite well. He recognizes pitches exceptionally well and knows the strike zone as well as anyone in the organization, and that leads to a classic leadoff man that can get on base plenty and utilize his above-average speed. Johnson makes contact pretty easily, though he lacks anything more than gap power. Most scouts see a solid bench outfielder with the ability to help offensively and defensively in the late innings.
44. Wilsen Palacios – Right-handed Pitcher
After serving a 50-game suspension during the 2009 season, Palacios came stateside for his first true test as a pro in 2010, and by all accounts he passed with flying colors. He has a solid repertoire that features as fastball that can get up to 93 with ease and also offers a curveball and a splitter. Palacios has a high arm slot, coming nearly over the top, giving him a downward angle on his fastball. There is some effort to his delivery, and a few scouts believe he could be destined for a bullpen role. Palacios has a durable frame and he maintains his velocity well, so the Tigers will give him a chance to start as long as he succeeds in the role.
43. Bruce Rondon – Right-handed Pitcher
Rondon is one of the unique Rookie League relievers that still merits prospect attention despite being strictly a reliever at his young age. He and the Tigers worked to drop his arm slot to a true side-arm angle, which game him added deception and a level of uniqueness that makes him a more intriguing prospect. Despite his low arm angle, Rondon can still get his fastball up to 95 regularly, and a few scouts have reported seeing sixes and sevens out of him at times. His breaking ball can get loopy at times, and it will need to be refined for him to remain successful.
42. Rawley Bishop – First Baseman
Bishop has worked his way onto the Tigers prospect map with some solid performances over his first two years in the organization. After an outstanding performance in Lakeland, the Tigers pushed him to Double-A where he continued to hit solidly. Bishop doesn’t have a classic first base profile, as he should hit for more average than power, and he is an excellent defender at first base, with some ability to handle third base as well. Though the odds are overwhelmingly leaning toward Bishop stagnating as an organizational player, there is a slim chance he could be a decent bench bat with some defensive versatility.
41. Mark Sorensen – Right-handed Pitcher
Sorensen may be the first big surprise on the 2011 TigsTown Top 50, as his prospect status has not been discussed to any great extent. Sorensen has good bloodlines, a fastball that can work 90-91 consistently with above-average sink and good command, and a solid-average slider with some projection for improvement. There isn’t a ton of ceiling with Sorensen, but he could be a fourth or fifth starter, or solid reliever capable of working multiple innings. If he were to move to the bullpen, he might add a tick or two on to his sinker.