It used to be a drag writing about the Tigers system due to a lack of both depth and intriguing prospects. That is no longer the case and the Tigers have a solid Top 10 list and the depth is beginning to expand throughout the system.
1. Matt Manning | RHP | A+ —> I know the consensus has Mize ranked first but Manning has proven himself more — and at a higher level. His stuff also screams No. 2/3 starter if he can solidify an average third pitch, which will likely be the changeup. He has a great pitcher’s frame and should chew up lots of innings while flashing his mid-to-upper-90s heat and plus curveball. He’s also athletic and should eventually have better-than-average command and control.
2. Casey Mize | RHP | DNP —> Mize has the stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation arm with his fastball, slider and splitter but his frame isn’t quite as ideal as Manning’s and he may have to watch his weight as he matures. There are also some injury concerns with Mize, including a previous forearm strain, which is often a precursor to Tommy John surgery (although he passed his physical with Detroit). Like Manning, Mize has shown athleticism and should move quickly.
3. Daz Cameron | OF | AA —> Yeah, I think Cameron is the best hitting prospect in the system. He’s extremely athletic, has excellent speed and the raw ingredients to be a solid hitter. He just needs more reps at the plate to tighten up his pitch recognition and aggressive nature. He does offset some of the Ks with walks, which is nice to see and he handled the jump from A-ball to double-A with relative ease. Still just 21, he could be ready for the Majors in mid-to-late 2019.
4. Franklin Perez | RHP | A+ —> Perez might be a little higher if not for concerns over his durability. He has yet to pitch a full season despite reaching full-season ball in 2016. The loss development time has hurt him and he’s taken a step backward in 2018 while struggling with injuries and a loss of control/command. When he’s right, Perez has the stuff to be a No. 2/3 starter with a mid-90s fastball and three other offerings. The good news is that he’s still just 20.
5. Alex Faedo | RHP | AA —> Faedo entered pro ball with some injury concerns and diminished velocity but he’s looked OK in his first full pro season while reaching double-A. He has a strong frame but wasn’t the most durable in college. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back in 2019 after throwing 100+ pro innings this year. If all is well, he has the stuff to be an excellent No. 3 starter with a 92-95 mph fastball, wipeout slider and promising (but inconsistent) changeup.
6. Beau Burrows | RHP | AA —> The improved starting pitching depth in Detroit’s system has made it even more likely that Burrows will end up in the bullpen. He has a good mid-90s fastball that could add some ticks in the ‘pen and solid curveball. The changeup could give him a third pitch that might scrape average. He’s still just 21 so he could take off with some improvements with command and his secondary offerings which would allow him to stick as a mid-rotation starter.
7. Willi Castro | SS | AA —> The Tigers got good value in the deal with Cleveland that jettisoned Leonys Martin to Ohio. Castro is promising and has some intriguing tools but he’s inconsistent — both in the field and with his hit tool (due to an over-aggressive nature). Still, he has a strong arm in the field, good speed and gap power. If he does learn to control himself at the plate more, he could be an average or better hitter. He’s still just 21 at double-A so there is upside here.
8. Kyle Funkhouser | RHP | AAA —> Funkhouser was a very talented college starter who got hurt and saw his performance suffer. He’s been OK but not great in pro ball. He has a solid fastball but his secondary offerings don’t look any better than average. I’d move him to the ‘pen where he could hit the mid-to-upper 90s more consistently and focus on trying to improve just one secondary offering rather than three. He has a strong frame but I’m not sure he’ll ever be a big innings eater as a starter due to the injuries but he could settle in as a No. 4 starter.
9. Kody Clemens | 2B | A —> I’m a huge Clemens fan. His makeup/drive is outstanding and, although he’s not the most toolsy guy, he gets 110% out of his abilities. I think he’ll hit for a respectable average with gap pop (potential double-digit homers as he matures) and good on-base abilities. Defensively, he should handle everything he gets to.
10. Parker Meadows | OF | R —> The brother of top prospect Austin Meadows, Parker has taken a little longer to show his solid skills — but he’s also 6-4 and it often takes taller hitters longer to get a handle on their swing mechanics. In time, he could develop 20+ homer pop but he’ll need to focus on making contact and being patient. He runs very well for his size but could lose range as he matures and eventually move from center to right field.
Christin Stewart | OF | AAA —> Stewart finds himself on a number of Top 10 lists but I’ve never really been a fan. He has power and is willing to take a walk but he is a below average fielder with a below average arm. He also doesn’t run well. With the swing-and-miss in his game he’s not going to hit for a high average so he’s pretty much a one tool (power) guy. He gets an extra checkmark for having good makeup, though.
Dawel Lugo | SS | AAA —> Lugo has the raw tools to be a very good baseball player but his approach at the plate has not improved since his days in the low minors in the Jays system. I’m not sure he’s committed to getting better as witnessed by his 8-53 BB-K in triple-A.
Isaac Paredes | SS | AA —> The Tigers have greatly improved their middle infield depth this year so there is now added pressure on Paredes. He looks up to the task, though, and at the age of 19 he’s already in double-A. He looks like he’s going to be an average or better big league hitter with double-digit homer pop but he’s probably going to shift to third base at the big league level.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.