Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Lack of Hitters in the Tigers System

To this point most Tigers fans on the web know about Cameron Maybin and the start to his professional career. Quite a few people probably know about Jeff Larish. I wrote about him on this blog. While Larish still has question markers to his game, such as a hole in his swing. He is still the second best hitting prospect in the minor leagues.

After Larish there is a heavy dropoff to the next position prospect. Most of them are fringe major leaguers with little chance of actually impacting a team. You have players like Chris Robinson, Jeff Frazier, Clete Thomas, Kody Kirkland, etc. littering the Tigers systems posing as hitters.

The one that there is some hope for is Clevlen since he is young and has talent that several have recognized. Clevlen faces a fall into oblivion as well if he continues to struggle so badly in AA.

So the question becomes why is the system so bad?

First a few of the position prospects in general seem to have terrible pitch recognition.

Kirkland 10 BB : 91 K : 248 AB
Frazier 15 BB : 55 K : 268 AB
Robinson 17 BB : 46 K : 178 AB
Clete Thomas 31 BB : 83 K : 252 AB

Clete isn't doing that bad with the 31 bb however the rest of them are absolutely pathetic. This shows a lack of control over the strikezone and since BB:K can typically predict future success it is obvious these guys are overmatched at their level.

Second the drafts are filled with fodder.

I like the fact that the Tigers take chances on tough signs in the first round. The problem si that they take 0 risks in the latter rounds. Take a few boom or bust picks. There are ways to mix and match much better than they have in the past. This draft was okay but it left something to be desired when they went reaching for players with lower projectability but more likely to reach that potential like Borquin.

The Tigers don't seem to have a clear direction at times with the position prospects.

Third the Tigers are not progressive enough in their promotions. If you are going to fill up the minors with older players like Hollimon you need to push those players to see what you have. What good does it do Hollimon to stay at A- West Michigan when all he has in front of him are Dlugach and Giarratano? Dlugach is terrible at pretty much everything when compared with his peers and Giarratano is pretty much just a UTL waiting to happen.

Yet the Tigers like to leave players at the same level the entire year. Hollimon is not setting the world on fire in WM. But the organization has no idea what it has if you are a 24 years old playing in the Midwest League.

The Tigers have litttle power in the system. They have failed to really get big time hitters out of Latin America. They have failed on average with the draft.

It is a good thing that this organization knows how to find and develop pitching talent or else the future might look bleak despite the hot start.

Perhaps there is hope with the new draft class. This class had college hitters that have more tools than the typical Tigers pick. I am not holding my breath on any of them but they might turn out.

The number of fringe position prospects in the system is tough to look at especially with the amount of older players that the Tigers are counting on in their current everyday lineup.

I am a big believer that things can turn around in a hurry. So perhaps that will happen here. It needs to come from the draft. Which it could but that won't be known for a while.

Good thing Ilitch doesn't mind spending money.

1 comment:

Lee Panas said...

I think the one area that has killed them the most, and you mentioned it too, is the acquisition of Latino talent. They are getting a little better in that area but I think they are still behind a lot of other teams.

I also liked your point about them making safe picks with position players rather taking a chance on some high risk high reward types. They seem more likely to do that with pitchers than hitters. That's just my impression though. I haven't studied it that closely.