Green means they took a big step forward this year.
Lime green suggests they took a small step in the right direction.
Black will be used in the place of yellow for readability and means the guy stood still this year.
Orange represents a slight step backward.
Red shows a player falling off the map.
- Rick Porcello- Will remain number 1 this offseason barring massive shoulder surgery. Given that there has been no report of anything close to that, he should be safe. He really wasn't that good in Lakeland, but there was still a lot to like.
- Yorman Bazardo- Yeah, I had him #2. Call it a hunch. Call it stupidity. Call it a hidden shoulder injury affecting his play all year, but a 6.72 ERA and a loss in velocity will move you down from here. A free agent in a matter of weeks, it wouldn't surprise me if Bazardo didn't return. Even if he did, he'd be lucky to crack the top 30.
- Michael Hollimon- Had a bit of an off year, but we now know why. Still, he'll be a 27 year old infielder who may not be cut out for shortstop upon his return. It will be imperative for him to show this year was an injury-caused blip lest he be cast in the utility role forever. For now, I'd put Hollimon in the 10-15 prospect range right now.
- Jeff Larish- At four because the farm wasn't too strong, Larish is blocked from first base through 2015 for now. Still, he'd need to do better than he did this year to garner consideration for any type of job. I'd tentatively put him in the 5-10 range before next year.
- James Skelton- The .098 isolated power number is what has me worried more than the perception that he's too light. I'd tentatively move him down slightly, but there's not many guys that can zoom past him.
- Charlie Furbush- Got a bit too wrapped up in the strong opening year campaign. After missing this year with Tommy John surgery, it's entirely possible that he's a sleeper for the next two seasons. Still, he won't be anywhere near the top ten next year. The success rate of Tommy John recoveries keeps him from being red.
- Matt Joyce- Even though I doubted his candidacy, this is about as high as you will see Joyce in any ranking. He's been a pleasant surprise this year and seems to have a hold on the left field job for the time being.
- Danny Worth- He was about what I expected this year. The shoulder injury sounds serious and could keep him from being a dark horse next spring. I'll probably keep him in right about the same area.
- Scott Sizemore- A bit of a disappointment before the hand injury, and a tremendous disappointment once you realize he was shut down after June 2. He'll take a slight drop in the rankings this year.
- Virgil Vasquez- Struggled in AAA and didn't get a call in September. Could be at risk of losing his 40 man roster spot over the winter. Currently orange, but was close to red this year.
- Brandon Hamilton- Still young, so the control problems in West Michigan are excusable. Evidently, he was around the plate, so it wasn't Eric Beattie bad. He'll get another shot this year and could be a breakout candidate.
- Deik Scram- I had him too high. Somewhat overrated because he was drafted as a senior, Scram struggled in Erie this year despite being old for the league. I doubt he cracks my top 30 this offseason.
- Casey Crosby- On the road back from Tommy John surgery, Crosby made a few appearances in the GCL. He'll probably move up in the rankings, but only because some guys ahead of him moved down. A nice breakout candidate for 2009.
- Jordan Tata- While I don't have enough inside information to come to this conclusion, I would suspect the fall of Jordan Tata could be one of the biggest strikes against the Tigers' training/medical staff. He's gone from possible fill-in to the brink of retirement this year. Nobody is redder than Tata.
- Cale Iorg- I wanted to see some results before ranking him aggressively. Considering he was coming off a two year break, the .251/.329/.405 line in Lakeland doesn't look to shabby. Combined with the high strikeouts, it's not the type of line you want from a top prospect. He get's a lime green for not embarrassing himself, but needs a big year in Erie next year.
- Alexis Espinoza- Struggled in the GCL. I would chalk it up to a big jump from the Venezuelan Leagues to the US leagues, but Luis Palacios, Lester Oliveros, Victor Larez, and Mauricio Robles seemed to handle it pretty well.
- Francisco Cruceta- Cruceta's season reminds me of an old Simpsons episode, where the comet is headed for town and everybody heads for the Flanders' disaster shelter. At the end, the comet turns out to be a pebble that shatters the shelter after everybody had left. Starting the season on the restricted list because of visa issues, there were some lofty expectations for Cruceta, who ended up back in Toledo because he couldn't throw his fastball for a strike. He's red because I don't think he'll be back with the organization next year.
- Duane Below- There are legitimate doubts about whether he has the arsenal to get hitters out at a higher level. As soon as the strikeouts dipped below 9 an inning, I started listening to those doubts. He'll probably be around 30 after the season.
- Brent Clevlen- I'm not sure what to make of Clevlen. The strikeouts remained an issue, and his BABIP was very high this year. It seems to suggest that he was pretty lucky, even after his luck ran out in August. Out of options next year, the Tigers would be wise to try and swap him for a relief project.
- Luke French- Frankly, I'm not sure why I had French so high. His strikeouts plummeted this year. There's still something there, but he'll not only need a big year next year, he'll need a shot at one.
- Clete Thomas- A strong year from Clete. Even with the late-season elbow injury, he should be in the team's plans, even if he's not ready for spring training. Because he spent more than 45 days on the active roster, Thomas will not be rookie eligible next season.
- Wilkin Ramirez- The scary thing is that this is right around the consensus spot for Wilkin coming into the season. The strikeouts were still there in Erie, and his BABIP was above .400. Even though he is a fast dude, there is reason to be concerned. Still, he should take a big step forward.
- Michael Hernandez- I did my rankings before he was shipped out for Armando Galarraga. The ironic part is that Hernandez has already paid off in more ways than anybody on this list, including Matt Joyce. Despite that, he's since been released by Texas and finished the year in low A ball for the Mets. It was a big step back for a guy dealt for the Tigers' best starting pitcher this year.
- Clay Rapada- I don't see why the organization felt it necessary to have Casey Fossum on the roster while Rapada was pitching in Toledo. He's in place to be a member of next year's bullpen, but watch out for that shoulder. There were problems in spring and he even spent some time on the disabled list early in the year. That's cause for concern. Rapada, due to having 45 days on the active roster prior to September 1, will not be eligible for next year's rankings.
- Noah Krol- Typically, I'm not very bullish when it comes to low level relief prospects. I should have stuck to those guns here, as Krol did not put up the type of age 24 season that justifies keeping a reliever on this list.
- Brett Jensen- The Tigers' minor league relievers tend to have problems recovering from Tommy John surgery for whatever reason. P.J. Finigan still isn't back from his problems last year, and Orlando Perdomo went back under the knife during his rehab process. Watch Jensen closely and see if he can get back to full strength. Until he does, he's off the list.
- Andrew Kown- Whoops. Released this summer, Kown has since latched on with the Nationals, and put together 17 quality innings for AAA Columbus.
- Luke Putkonen- "Minor" offseason shoulder surgery and bouts with shoulder problems all year give me legitimate doubts that Putkonen will stay healthy enough to move up the ladder. That he returned to pitching after having his shoulder checked out by the Tigers' medical staff is hardly reassuring.
- Ryan Strieby- A nice power breakout, but I still have doubts that he can hit enough to crack the majors.
- Brennan Boesch- Another iffy year for Boesch, who needs to have a Wilkin-like performance in Erie next year to revive his prospect status.