40. Alex Burgos – Left-handed Pitcher
The Tigers love Burgos’ pitchability and competitiveness, but scouts are mixed on his stuff and projection. He has a fringe-average fastball and a curveball that some believe could become a plus pitch. He’s maxed out physically and his ceiling rests as a number three starter at best, and that might be a stretch.
39. Julio Rodriguez – Catcher
The best defensive catcher in the system, Rodriguez has a very good arm, quick feet, and a good transfer. He is still improving his blocking ability, but that is just nitpicking. There is strength in his swing, though he must shorten it to make more contact. Most scouts see a backup catcher and maybe more if his offense comes together.
38. Luke Putkonen – Right-handed Pitcher
A big right-hander, Putkonen has transformed a bit since signing out of UNC. Instead of developing into the over-powering strikeout machine some envisioned, he has become a hard sinker guy that gets ground balls and eats innings in an unassuming fashion. He could be a back end starter pretty easily, and he will just need a chance once he gets some exposure at the higher levels.
37. Daniel Carranza – Outfielder
Carranza is ranked here almost purely on projection. A supreme athlete, he has a chance for four average or better tools, and some scouts even see a fifth in the making. His hit tool is the only questionable one, as he presently lacks the pitch recognition and strike zone judgment to hit for average long term. His speed, power, defense, and throwing arm all should be at least average.
36. Billy Nowlin – First Baseman
Despite the down numbers – particularly in Lakeland – Nowlin still has a rep as a pure hitter. He can hit for average and power, though he does get too aggressive in the box at times. He has no defensive home, and one scout said he is “allergic to leather” in an attempt to sum up his defensive potential. He will have to hit a ton to get a show in the big leagues, but he could be a bench bat.
35. Adam Wilk – Left-handed Pitcher
Wilk just keeps getting it done at every level, despite consistent reviews that he’s a bit short on stuff. He has a below-average fastball, one of the system’s best change-ups and the best command in the Tigers’ minor leagues. Few scouts believe he can start long term, but at some point his performance has to trump the projection. That point is coming closer with each quality start.
34. Duane Below – Left-handed Pitcher
Below has started to make a name for himself since coming back from TJ surgery. Even though he was previously the organization’s minor league Pitcher of the Year, he was a bit unheralded. Since returning, he’s run his fastball up to 95 at times and has a potential plus curve. His role is still to be determined, but the Tigers clearly liked him enough to add him to the 40-man roster this fall.
33. Cole Nelson – Left-handed Pitcher
The developmental staff of the Tigers continue to laud the scouting department for finding Nelson, who could be the definition of a diamond in the rough. After extending his stride, his fastball jumped from 89-91 in college to 92-93 and touching 95 as a pro. He took to the changes well, and could be a huge breakout candidate in 2011.
32. Andy Dirks – Outfielder
Dirks had his best offensive season in 2010, showing more power and a continued ability to put the ball in play and hit for average. He continued by hitting in winter ball, and there is a chance he could see Detroit in a reserve role in 2011. It is tough to see a regular outfielder in Dirks, but it is not hard at all to see a fourth outfielder that can help at the plate and at all three outfield positions.
31. Matt Hoffman – Left-handed Pitcher
It wasn’t just observers that were surprised with the velocity spike Hoffman saw this year, particularly this fall, as he admitted being stunned as well. In the AFL, scouts routinely reported seeing Hoffman hitting 95, and there were occasional reports of him scraping 97 when he reached back for more. Control is still an issue for Hoffman, but it is hard to ignore the ceiling provided by his new found gas.