To read the rest of the 2014 Midseason Top 50, follow the links below:
#10 – Willy Adames – Shortstop
Adames has been a Tigers prospect darling this season, leaping his way into the Top Ten after being rated as an intriguing but raw prospect for the last couple of years. Blessed with electric bat speed and impressive athleticism, Adames has a chance to be an impact offensive contributor while sticking at shortstop long term. There is a lot that can go wrong during his still lengthy developmental path, but Adames possesses one of the highest ceilings in the organization and he could be a top five prospect by season’s end.
#9 – Devon Travis – Second Baseman
With another injury behind him – and yes, we should start carrying durability concerns here – Travis has gotten right back to hitting the way he has done since entering the Tigers system. It’s not going to be an impact offensive profile and most scouts still believe Travis ends up more of a second division regular than anything else, but his bat and hard-nosed approach to the game could carry him to the big leagues.
#8 – James McCann – Catcher
Considered a poor pick by many on draft day a couple years ago, McCann has plugged along and quietly established himself as a very real Major League prospect. McCann’s glove is his best trait and he should be an above-average to plus defender once he settles in at the big league level. His bat won’t blow anybody away, but he’s shown a knack for contact and can drive the ball to the gaps for doubles, giving him a chance to play every day.
#7 – Eugenio Suarez – Shortstop
Suarez came out of the gates blazing in Detroit when he finally got the call to fill the club’s gaping hole at shortstop, and Tigers fans swooned at his potential. He has come back to earth some since that hot start, and Suarez still lacks the carrying tool to make him an above-average regular, but he should hit enough and defend well enough to be a second division regular or premium utility guy capable of playing all over the park.
#6 – Corey Knebel – Right-Handed Pitcher
Knebel has a no-doubt late inning profile that should work at the big league level for a long time, and at his best he could settle into a setup role where his mid-90s fastball and hammer curve will play extremely well. The Tigers opted to move him to acquire bullpen help right now, and while he could have been a key piece in the next year or two, he didn’t profile as the true impact arm at the back of games that someone like Bruce Rondon provides to the club.
#5 – Jake Thompson – Right-Handed Pitcher
The primary piece in yesterday’s trade for Joakim Soria, Thompson dominated the High-A Florida State League earlier this season before struggling as his command wavered and teams began laying off his above-average slider. While still performing solidly on most occasions, the Tigers recently promoted him to Double-A Erie where he has again begun pitching well. With an average fastball that plays up because of quality sink, and a slider that can miss bats, Thompson profiles as a #4 starter that has the physicality necessary to project as an inning eater.
#4 – Steven Moya – Outfielder
While he ranks fourth on this list, there is actually a case to be made that Moya could be top prospect in the Tigers system. He still struggles to make contact at times and while he has made progress working counts, the walks are slow in coming, but the power is beyond real. With a strong close to the season, Moya could finish with 40 doubles and 30 home runs in his first tour through Double-A. That’s an impressive feat for any prospect, let alone one that most did not feel would be ready for Double-A to start the year. Moya’s power is off the charts and that is difficult to find in today’s game, making him an extremely valuable commodity.
#3 – Jonathon Crawford – Right-Handed Pitcher
Crawford’s numbers don’t jump off the page and there have been times when his stuff has backed up this year, but all told, he has turned in a quality full-season debut. Capable of sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball and showing a slider that is among the best in the system, Crawford could be a #3 starter if everything breaks right, and he will always carry a late inning backup plan. The developmental road has been bumpy this summer, but Crawford has the stuff and potential to take off in 2015.
#2 – Robbie Ray – Left-Handed Pitcher
The Tigers prime target in the Doug Fister trade, there have been stretches where Ray looked the part of a very good mid-rotation starter this season. At other times, his control has evaporated and he has been knocked around the yard. When right, Ray offers rare velocity from the left side and enough stuff on the secondary side to work through a lineup multiple times. He still needs some polishing, but he could be ready to step into the rotation at some point in 2015.
#1 – Derek Hill – Outfielder
The Tigers’ top pick this summer, Hill became the top prospect in the system the instant he signed his first professional contract. A potential five-tool player, Hill is already an exceptional defender thanks to quality instincts and 70-grade speed. He has a knack for finding the barrel and there are scouts that believe he could have 15-home run power at his peak. Hill will take several years to reach the big league radar, but when he arrives, he could be a dynamic player that helps continue the Tigers contending ways.