I haven't had much time to discuss prospects lately but today I'll evaluate the progress so far this season of the consensus pre-season Top 20 prospects. The following consensus list is based on prospect ranking by Baseball America, John Sickels, Tigs Town, Tigers Corner and Eddie B's fan poll.
Rick Porcello - Pitching in Lakeland at the age of 19, Porcello has a 2.79 ERA and a 47/23 strikeout/walk ratio in 84 innings. That's not an impressive strikeout rate for a youngster touted as a power pitcher but a report in the Detroit News indicated that there might be a misconception about what kind of pitcher he is. While he can reach the high 90s if he needs to, he considers himself more of a sinker ball pitcher who pitches best in the low 90s. Even a sinker baller should get more strikeouts in A ball but he's too young for it to be a big concern yet.
Jeff Larish - The 25 year old power hitting first baseman has a .263/.363/.557 line with Toledo. Earlier, he had a brief call-up to the Tigers where he batted .200 in 40 at bats. He is has a left-handed bat which the Tigers need but he is blocked at first base by Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers want him to become more versatile and he has played some third base for the Mud Hens recently.
Michael Hollimon - Hollimon missed the first part of the season with a dislocated shoulder but came back to hit for an OPS of .863 with 12 homers in 184 at bats for Toledo. He became the Tigers utility infielder when Ramon Santiago went on the disabled list and is batting .280 with 4 extra base hits in 23 at bats. He might be good enough to be a regular second baseman in the majors but he could also end up as a utility player.
Danny Worth - The 22 year old Worth has a reputation as a slick fielding shortstop. However, his offense needs work as he is batting just .245/.321/.381 for AA Erie. I wouldn't expect to see him in Detroit before 2010.
Scott Sizemore - The 25 year old second baseman is batting .286/.365/.409 for Lakeland. His 24/44 BB/K ratio is not as impressive as it has been in the past (73/60 last year). He is currently out with a wrist injury.
Yorman Bazardo - It was hoped that Bazardo could help the Tigers as a reliever/spot starter this year but he has had a disappointing season. After getting hit hard in a brief stint with the Tigers, he has compiled a 6.47 ERA and allowed 12 home runs in 65 innings for Toledo.
Casey Crosby - The 5th round pick in in the 2007 amateur draft is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Brandon Hamilton - The 19 year old first round supplemental pick from last year's draft walked 28 batters in 32 1/3 innings at West Michigan and is now pitching for the Gulf Coast League Tigers. He pitched well in his first GCL start today (three hits, one walk , one run in 6 1/3 innings) but is a very raw talent who has a long way to go.
Matt Joyce - The left-handed hitting corner outfielder has made good progress so far this season. He batted .270 with 13 homers and 28 extra base hits in 200 at bats for Toledo earning him a call-up to the Tigers. He is batting just .239 for the Tigers but has shown good power with 5 homers in 67 at bats. He has also showed off his fine defensive skills including a rocket arm.
James Skelton - The 5-11 165 pound left-handed hitting catcher has been an on base machine for Lakeland but has shown virtually no power. He has an OBP of .425 but has only 6 extra base hits in 141 at bats. It will be hard for him to maintain a high OBP at higher levels with so little power but I still think he's an interesting prospect. He has a reputation as a solid defensive catcher.
Charles Furbush - After an impressive professional debut for the GCL Tigers and West Michigan last year, the 22 year old left-hander has undergone Tommy John surgery and is out for the season.
Deik Scram - After emerging as a serious prospect last year with a solid season at West Michigan/Lakeland, Scram has had a tough time at AA Erie this year. The 24 year old left-handed hitter is batting .231/.322/.338 with 76 strikeouts in 295 at bats.
Francisco Cruceta - The much ballyhooed Cruceta has shown flashes of talent this year but has also been very wild. He walked 10 batters in 11 2/3 innings for the Tigers and is now back at Toledo. The 27 year old right-hander has posted a 4.34 ERA and a 28/9 K/BB ratio for the Mud Hens.
Virgil Vasquez - It was hoped that The 26 year old right-hander could be an injury replacement starter for the Tigers this year but so far he has struggled for Toledo. Vasquez has displayed his usual good control (71/19 K/BB ratio) but has a 4.56 ERA and has allowed 15 homers in 94 2/3 innings.
Cale Iorg - In his first year of professional ball after two years of missionary work in Portugal, Iorg has had a pretty good year as a shortstop for Lakeland. The 22 year old son of former major leaguer Garth Iorg is batting .259/.336/.406. He is still likely a couple of years from the big leagues.
Jordan Tata - It was hoped that the 26 year old right-hander could provide bullpen depth to the Tigers this year but he started the season on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder and a fractured right hand (caused by punching a door). He has had a very difficult time with his control since returning walking 22 batters in 15 innings for the GCL Tigers and Lakeland.
Duane Below - The 22 year old left-hander had a very good season for West Michigan last year but will be tested at each level because he does not have dominating stuff. He has had another solid season for Lakeland this year posting a 3.54 ERA and 77/34 K/BB ratio in 83 innings.
Brent Clevlen - The slow developing 24 year old outfielder seems to have taken a step forward this year. After struggling mightily for Erie and Toledo the last two years, Clevlen has batted .298/.385/.551 for the Mud Hens this year. He still strikes out a lot though - 88 K in 272 at bats. He appeared briefly for the Tigers batting .208 in 11 games.
Clete Thomas - The 24 year old left-handed hitting outfielder has been a pleasant surprise this year batting .313/.383/.414 in 99 at bats for the Tigers. The speedy Thomas has also shown the ability to play all three outfield positions very well. His .238/.319/.408 line at Toledo has been puzzling but the fact that he has had success in multiple stints with the Tigers is encouraging.
Wilkin Ramirez - The toolsy 22 year old outfielder had a breakout season for AA Erie this year batting .301 with 12 homers and 30 extra base hits in 276 at bats. He has struggled since his promotion to Toledo batting .083 in 36 at bats. He still needs to cut down his strikeouts - a combined 98 K in 312 at bats for Erie and Toledo.