With the season starting on March 28th, it seems like a great time to wrap up my get to know your Detroit Tigers 2019 prospects series. So far I’ve introduced you to 40 of the top 50 prospects in the Tigers’ system and in case you’d like to look back at the previous posts in the series I’ve included them below:
- Part one (starring Casey Mize)
- Part two (starring Matt Manning)
- Part three (starring Issacc Paredes)
- Part four (starring Christin Stewart)
Without any further ado, let’s start the final countdown:
Franklin Perez, RHP
The Detroit Tigers 2019 prospects includes a ton of pitching talent, including today’s leadoff prospect Franklin Perez. Last season did not go according to plan for Perez as between a lat strain and shoulder tightness that ended his season early, he only managed seven starts in 2018 with not a lot to show for it. But even after losing a year of development, Perez’s upside was not affected in my opinion. In terms of pitches, Perez has a plus fastball/curveball combination in addition to at least an average changeup and slider. His fastball averages between 92-94 but he has shown that he can bump it up to 96 when he wants to. Perez has the upside of a No. 2 starter and should develop into an above-average starter in at the MLB level despite last year’s injuries.
Parker Meadows, OF
At just 19 years old, Parker Meadows is still very raw but has plenty of raw power to tap into, which we saw in a short 22 game stint in the Gulf Coast League where he slashed .284/.376/.500/.876 with four home runs and 8 RBIs. The first of many high-risk, high-reward picks made by the Tigers during the 2018 draft, Meadows is a toolsy outfielder who can hit, run, and field. Meadows is big at 6-foot-5 and has a power first approach with a touch of speed and a questionable feel for the strike zone. Meadows has the potential of being a perennial 20/20 guy but only playing time will show us what he can do.
Wenceel Perez, SS
Another young member of the Detroit Tigers 2019 prospects, Wenceel Perez is a player to get excited about. Perez had a solid showing over 3 levels in 2018 at just 18 years old, hitting .313/.375/.394/.769 in 118 games. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, Perez has the potential for four above-average or better tools, with the lone exception being his power, which will likely generate single digit home runs each year. Perez has a clean swing and makes consistent, solid contact from both sides of the plate, with the left side being his best. Perez definitely has a contact-oriented approach which is perfect given his plus speed. Defensively speaking he is the best shortstop in the Tigers’ system. It is easy to see Perez as a speedy leadoff hitter playing plus defense in a couple of years if he continues to play well.
Gregory Soto, LHP
Gregory Soto will be trying to rebound after a disappointing 2018 season. There is a lot to like about Soto even though his numbers do not jump out at you. His combination of raw stuff, left-handedness, and arm strength are intriguing. His best pitch is a fastball which sits in the mid-90s with good movement. He combines that with a curveball and changeup but neither pitch is currently something that he can control. No matter how good his fastball is, Soto’s ceiling will completely depend on his ability to develop his secondary pitches. He has a lot of work to do but the potential is there.
Soto will turn 24 years old during spring training which is far too old for his current level. Both Low-A West Michigan and Double-A Erie will have starting rotations bursting at the seams with talent, so coming back strong with the Flying Tigers will be Soto’s last chance to prove he can kick it as a stater. If that works out, the Tigers will likely be aggressive in promoting him. If it doesn’t work out, he is likely to see considerable time in relief during the second half of 2019 and going forward into future years.
Wilkel Hernandez, RHP
Wilkel Hernandez was one of the prospects the Tigers received from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Ian Kinsler back in 2017. Hernandez was an afterthought when the Tigers acquired him, but his star has become much brighter since then. His best pitch is his fastball which sits in the low 90s usually but can be bumped up to 96. Like most raw young pitching prospects, Hernandez needs to work on his command. Most low-level hitters can’t handle the speed of his fastball, but Hernandez will need to improve his command so he can establish a presence on the inside half of the strike zone at the MLB level. He also needs to continue to develop his secondary pitches (changeup and curveball). Hernandez didn’t spend very much time with West Michigan in 2018, and the Tigers will be in no rush to get him to the higher levels in 2019.
Carlos Guzman, RHP
Carlos Guzman is a former third baseman turned starting pitcher. Guzman was converted into a pitcher in 2017 partly due to his struggles hitting but also due to the fact he can throw in the mid-90s. Guzman throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, ranging anywhere from 92-97 mph, depending on the source. While Guzman’s ability to throw hard isn’t unexpected, his changeup is. Guzman’s high-upside secondary pitch can be thrown nearly 10 mph slower than his fastball without him changing his arm speed. It is an impressive one-two punch that has allowed Guzman to post impressive strikeout numbers at lower levels and should continue to help him progress through the minor leagues. He is currently developing a slider, but primarily relies on his two main pitches, and his command is reportedly still in development.
Guzman only pitched a single inning in Lakeland in 2018 and is three years younger than the average player in the Florida State League. Therefore, it makes sense start the season with West Michigan. It’s hard to tell how far he could advance in 2019.
Esny Chacon, OF
Esney Chacon is a Venezuelan speedster with 70-grade speed and decent contact skills. There is not a lot of information available about Chacon, as evidenced by the lack of picture/video, but we do know that he had 58 steals in 122 Dominican Summer League games while hitting .267 and walking more than he strikes out (65 to 53) last season. At only 18 years old, Chacon will be a name to keep an eye on moving forward.
Matt Hall, LHP
2018 was an interesting year for Matt Hall. He spent time at Double-A and Triple-A with very strong numbers, pitching for a combined 2.68 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and was striking out 10.6 per 9. However, things changed when Hall was called up to Detroit. Over the course of 8 innings he got lit up for 19 hits and 16 runs while striking out 5 guys. 2019 will be a big year for Hall because he is likely to start in Triple-A and is very likely to get another shot in Detroit.
Grayson Long, RHP
Grayson Long made his way to the Tigers’ system via the Justin Upton trade with the Los Angeles Angels. He missed all of the 2018 season after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in the middle of April. Drafted out of Texas A&M by the Angels in 2015, Long has had a quick ascent through the minor leagues. If Long can stay healthy and turn in a solid 2019 season he could be competing for a starting job in Detroit sooner rather than later.
Sam McMillan, C
Sam McMillan was drafted by the Tigers in 2017 straight out of high school. At just 20 years old, McMillan is a long way from a finished product and his potential is tricky to project. Last season he hit .158/.312/.206/.518 which leaves a lot to be desired. McMillan’s defensive skills are solid, and between him and Jake Rogers the Tigers have a decent backstop situation in their system. He will require years of patience, but McMillan has the potential to be a plus defensive catcher with an average MLB bat.
Jason Foley, RHP
Jason Foley is a diamond in the rough that the Tigers signed after he went undrafted in 2016. Foley is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound, right-handed reliever who is a flamethrower. At Single-A West Michigan he consistently threw at 97-99, occasionally hitting 100 and topping out at 101. Foley also has an arsenal of secondary pitches that includes a good changeup and split. Foley underwent Tommy John surgery back in July of 2017 forcing him to miss not only most of the 2017 season but also all of 2018 season. Now that he is healthy the Tigers are hoping for a rapid return to old ways.
That’ll do it for my five-part series introducing you to the Detroit Tigers 2019 prospects. Thank you for reading this far! If you’d like to check out the previous post please click the link below: