2014 TigsTown Top 50 Tigers Prospects: Top 10

Nick Castellanos is the Tigers top prospect

The Tigers top ten prospects is here! Nick Castellanos again checks in at number one in the organization, but which players fill out the rest of the top ten?

10. Daniel Fields – Outfielder
In his second tour through the Eastern League, Fields put together a solid .284/.356/.435 line that gives hope to his future at the Major League level. Though scouts still question how much he will hit long term, Fields showed enough with the bat that his return to being a plus defender in center field makes him a viable Major League contributor. Fields best bet is to settle in as a fourth outfielder and that could happen as soon as late 2014 or early 2015.

9. Endrys Briceno – Right-Handed Pitcher
Briceno's numbers with West Michigan in 2013 won't stand out and scream top prospect, but the 21-year old Venezuelan is easily one of the system's best. Armed with an easy delivery and a fastball that can reach 95-96 mph, Briceno is slowly gaining improved feel for his curveball and changeup, and his command is coming along as well. The developmental path will still be long for Briceno, but he could max out as a mid-rotation starter with electric stuff.

8. Hernan Perez – Second Baseman
After hitting .301 in the minor leagues this year and reaching the big leagues for 34 games, Perez is on the verge of seizing a full-time job in Detroit. At just 22-years old, Perez could stand another half season in the minor leagues to further polish his offensive approach, but there is little development remaining. Perez is a plus defender at second base and can handle shortstop in a pinch, giving him a backup plan as a utility player. He produces surprising bat speed and could be a solid hitter in time.

7. Drew VerHagen – Right-Handed Pitcher
Pushed aggressively to Double-A after just 67-1/3 innings in High-A, VerHagen responded with a 3.00 ERA and less than a hit per inning across 12 starts. In addition, VerHagen improved his strikeout and walk rates despite moving to a more difficult level. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, VerHagen is built to eat innings as a number four starter and he could reach that ceiling in 2015; particularly if he gets his feet wet with a couple of spot starts in 2014.

6. Jake Thompson – Right-Handed Pitcher
The Tigers were cautious with Thompson to start the 2013 season, holding him back in extended spring training before shoving him to the Midwest League for 83-1/3 innings of work. Thompson dominated the league at times, finishing with a 3.13 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. With a low-90s sinking fastball and a slider that was too much for MWL hitters to handle, he cruised through the league as a 19-year old and proved that he could be an inning-eating #3/#4 starter at his peak.

5. James McCann – Catcher
McCann may lack the drool-worthy profile of many highly rated catching prospects, but what he lacks in flash, he makes up for in substance. Armed with solid bat control and the ability to use the whole field as a hitter, McCann projects as an average stick with a good approach and gap power. Behind the plate he is the system's best defensive catcher with excellent receiving ability, very good footwork and a plus arm; making him a true defensive asset. McCann's ceiling only reaches the solid everyday range, but his floor still pegs him as a backup catcher.

4. Corey Knebel – Right-Handed Pitcher
Drafted in the supplemental round in June, Knebel came out of the gates blazing this summer by destroying Low-A en route to an Arizona Fall League assignment. In 31 games, Knebel notched 15 saves and posted a microscopic 0.87 ERA while allowing just 14 hits and ten walks, and striking out 41 batters. Following the draft the Tigers insisted Knebel's four-pitch mix could work in the rotation, but his immediate dominance out of the bullpen could change their plans. With a filthy fastball-curveball combination, Knebel could actually reach Detroit late in 2014 and should start the season with Double-A Erie.

3. Steven Moya – Outfielder
Playing in only 93 games at High-A this summer because of an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, Moya still needs plenty of at-bats to begin approaching his considerable potential. With an MLB-ready body and top-of-the-scale raw power, Moya has the basic ingredients to become a classic power hitting threat. Also a good athlete for his size, Moya fits the right field profile with solid defense and a strong arm. Consistent contact will always be the biggest hurdle for Moya, but if he figures it out even a little bit, he could blast 25-30 home runs a year.

2. Jonathon Crawford – Right-Handed Pitcher
The club's first round pick last summer, Crawford did not disappoint in 19 innings with short-season Connecticut. During each outing Crawford showed a fastball that ranged from 92-97 mph and peaked at 98 mph in the NYPL All-Star game. His slider also showed as an easy plus pitch throughout the summer and occasionally flashed as a true plus-plus pitch. Crawford's changeup and command are still developing and if he makes strides with both, he could reach his ceiling as a number three starter.

1. Nick Castellanos – Outfielder
The Tigers top prospect yet again, Castellanos is one of the premier offensive prospects in the game today. A gifted natural hitter, Castellanos struggled out of the gate in his first run at Triple-A pitchers, but adjusted quickly and hit .283/.350/.463 after April 23rd, including 32 doubles, 18 home runs, 48 walks and 86 strikeouts in 124 games. At his best, Castellanos projects as a .290-.300 hitter with 20-25 home runs and plenty of doubles, or basically as a middle of the order bat. For all his gifts in the batter's box, Castellanos struggles in the field. Though he has made progress in the outfield, he still struggles with his reads and routes and despite raw arm strength, his mechanics hold him back and his arm plays below-average. Castellanos will never be a good defender, but if his bat approaches the potential scouts see, his glove really won't matter that much.

To read the entire top 50, follow the links below for the other Top 50 lists:

Top 50 Tigers Prospects: 50-41

Top 50 Tigers Prospects: 40-31

Top 50 Tigers Prospects: 30-21

Top 50 Tigers Prospects: 20-11

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