Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tigers farm system not producing necessary position players

Manager Jim Leyland has been very generous with his praise of the Tigers' developmental system lately, but in regard to position players, I don't agree.
Not, anyway, when it comes to the homegrown players who are going to fill out the Tigers' opening day roster.
The Tigers had three choices to fill the second base spot with Carlos Guillen still on the mend.
Of those three - Will Rhymes, Scott Sizemore and Danny Worth - who projects as a long-term major league regular? I don't think of any of them do. Although I do see some upside with Worth, I wouldn't exactly say he is a high-ceiling prospect.
As for the outfield, Andy Dirks, Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells are likely 4-A players. They are all in their mid-20s. Any impact they have will likely be short-term. Other organizations are not clamoring for prospects like this.
Now, I do think the Tigers have a couple high-ceiling position player prospects. Outfielder Daniel Fields has a chance to be a great player. It has been vastly underrated what he did last year as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League. It was as impressive what third baseman Francisco Martinez accomplished at the same age at Lakeland.
And it was encouraging the Tigers took a high-ceiling position player with their first pick in the draft last year, third baseman Nick Castellanos.
But for too many years, the Tigers have been drafting college position players with limited tools. So while the Tigers have done a good job of instructing them in the minor leagues, and they have had some impact upon arrival to the major leagues, they haven't been able to sustain it because of limited tools.
The Tigers have done well taking power pitchers early in the draft, but have otherwise relied too much on college relievers and low-ceiling college position players. Now, I have nothing against college players being drafted, but it's still about tools and what that player ultimately can do in the major leagues.
Is there enough there that he can be a long-range major league regular? Not a backup. Not a stop-gap. Not a spring phenom. Not a 4-A player.
But a legitimate every day regular? When was the last time the Tigers developed a position player that fit that description?



Blogger Barry said...

Pat, you think the Tigers would really sharpen their pencil when they draft players. This saves the organization dollars. I am a big fan of the draft and minor leagues. The draft is the foundation of a ballclub.

2:20 PM 
Anonymous Rob said...

The Tigers farm system has been overwhelmingly disappointing for nearly two decades.

In the early-mid 90's they got a couple of keepers. Then there was 10 years of Greisingers, Munsons, Andersons, Buaghs, Sleeths and guys I can't even remembers. Not to mention a total failure to produce in rounds 2-30.

Since 2004 when the Tigers brought up Verlander who else has come up and been a no doubt starter (picter or position player)? Porcello and Jurrjens? Is that it?

The only redeeming thing about the rest of the players drafted from 2004 to 2009 is they were able to trade a bunch of busts for Cabrera.

That is dreadful. Turner and Oliver promise to deliver but they are stained by the Tigers awful history. They now have Castellanos and the young kid from Venezuala but they too are undermined by having been chosen by Dave Dombrowski.

Dombrowski's inablity to build a core of young players is Millen-esque. Ilitch pays above the recommended slot and still gets squat in return. I thought Dombrowski was the driving force behind Florida's player decisions, but they keep on finding talent while we get Ryan Perry.

Rhymes can be a good everyday player. I think he might adequately fill the holes left by Polanco. I have no faith in any of the other Tiger position player prospects until they prove it at the major league level.

Sizemore, Kelly, Wells, Boesch, and the rest are extras in the movie Major League. Totally unremarkable.

Go Tigers.

2:51 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Solid point about the positional prospects. I think this is Dave Dombrowski's M.O., and his entire career bears that out. He believes in building a team through drafting pitching, specifically high-ceiling power pitching. He rarely deviates. If there is a stud pitcher and a stud hitter available at the same spot, he will draft the pitcher 99% of the time. I wish he would deviate some to build more positional depth, but I think it's a sound system that most winning teams use.

What the ballclub could stand to do, however, is make a trade to acquire some positional talent. Part of the goal with drafting all these pitchers, knowing they won't all pan out anyway, is moving some for other areas of need. The Tigs haven't done that in some time

I also think drafting all those relief arms a couple years back (the Perry draft, if I remember correctly) was a mistake. You're supposed to take high-ceiling, power arms who are starters at the collegiate and high school level and turn them into relievers. College and high school closers just don't have that high of a ceiling.


4:58 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! I agree with you totally on this post. Baseball America and the preseason magazines all rate the Tigers system and prospects as mediocre. Leyland was blowing smoke about all the "mindboggling talent" where? Maybe he was in Tampa's camp by mistake. If the Tigers are serious this year they need to trade some of Leyland's "mindboggling" minor league talent to the Mets for say, Jose Reyes (who is on the block). The Tigers have good pitching but their lineup is not on par with the Twins or White Sox. Besides Cabrera, they don't scare anyone. They better hope he doesn't have too many hangovers during the season.


8:36 PM 
Blogger Tigerdog1 said...

Right you are, Pat. In the Dombrowski era, we basically have Granderson as the only stand out Tiger draft pick that has been above average in the majors for any period of time. I suppose there is hope for Avila, maybe Sizemore or Boesch, but there's not a lot in the pipeline in terms of position players. True, that DD has spun some prospects into stars, but even those picks haven't developed into much. I'm on board with the plan of building strong pitching through the draft, but the Tigers will have to do some shopping when it comes time to replace Magglio and Guillen.

11:37 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I don't think it's about lack of effort, but a philosophy about players. Seems like it was about how good the player has been at the time of the draft, not how he might project as a major league regular.

9:00 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Well, Zumaya, too. If he doesn't develop, 2006 postseason doesn't happen. They have gotten some decent play from certain players and over a stretches, but not long term.

9:03 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Those college relievers in the Perry draft were supposed to come in and give the Tigers a strong bullpen in the near future. Didn't work that way. They are paying premium dollars for a setup man (Benoit) and closer (Valverde) they signed as free agents.

9:05 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

The Tigers lineup is fairly strong, but it's expense. They did give up minor leaguers to get some of the key parts, but mostly they've tried to buy their team with an expense payroll. It's why they reportedly lost $29 million last season, according to Forbes.

9:09 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

There is minimal hope with those players. They are all older prospects who have had only limited success in the minor leagues. Boesch's first half was impressive, but seems unlikely he will perform at that level again, or perhaps as any every day player.

9:11 AM 
Blogger LotH News said...

Pat, I agree with you up to a point: The last very good positional player out of the system was Curtis Granderson. But if you remember, Granderson was only considered a so-so prospect (ranked from 60-100 in most lists in 2005). Looking at those same lists that ranked Granderson so low, most of the higher ranked prospects never made any impact in the majors. Where are those can't miss prospects like John Van Benschoten, Brian Dopirak, Dallas McPherson, Andy Marte, and Joey Gathright anyway? And why have marginal prospects like Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, and Jonathan Paplebon become All Star caliber players?

I've lived in New York for 15 years, long enough to see that Detroit gets the short end of the stick from the national sports media. I've also read enough years of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and lists to know that these guys know very little about baseball talent.

That said, I'm not saying the Tigers have a great farm system, but it takes many years to turn a farm system around and I'm starting to see things move in the right direction.

12:26 PM 
Anonymous Jay said...

Its frustrating as a fan to see the organization and leyland hype up players such as Cale Iorg to be the next coming of Alan Trammell. However isn't this what the organization has to do to make what it has look better? Is it safe to say Ilitchs deep pockets have saved dombrowskis rear big time in his tenure? this is make or break time as the organization does not have the depth of prospects people want to part with major league talent. Aside from that the payroll is stretched to the limit so this leash of free agency isn't gonna last and at some point players such as maggs or inge will have to be replaced in house. i like dombrowski, i think he can spot talent, but he's been fortunate to operate with a larger deck of cards then most GMs including in minnesota. Leyland needs to be called out on the hype jobs he does. Guys like Rhymes are serviceable big leaguers but not a top 5 player in the AL at that position. As you recall in 07 double D said that was the goal

2:26 PM 

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