With two parts already in the books, today we’ll cross the halfway point in my five-part series introducing you to the top 50 Detroit Tigers 2019 prospects. If you missed the first two articles you can check out the first one here and the second here.
Don’t worry Josh Gehringer, I haven’t forgotten about Beau Burrows and *spoiler alert* I’ve included him in today’s list.
Isaac Paredes, SS/3B
The last two articles in the series started with pitchers, so this time I figured I mix things up and lead off with an infielder. Despite Isaac Paredes likely being the best hitting prospect in the Detroit Tigers 2019 prospect class, he has really just started to become a familiar name. The Tigers received Paredes and third baseman, Jeimer Candelario, from the Chicago Cubs back in July of 2017. What are his strengths? That part is easy. Paredes is a hitter. Paredes hit .321/.406/.458 with 12 extra-base hits in 39 games for Double-A Erie. To back up his bat, Paredes also brings solid hands and a quality throwing arm to the equation.
Most of Paredes’ downside is wrapped up in his physique. Paredes may not ultimately stick at shortstop unless he drops 30-40 pounds. Weighing in at 225 pounds, he’s thickly built and has already more than filled out his 5-foot-11 frame. Paredes spent only about a month and a half in Erie late in 2018, so it’s easy to forecast a return this season. However, it wouldn’t take too much of a hot start to have him ready for the jump to Triple-A Toledo by the time summer officially rolls around.
Beau Burrows, RHP
If you haven’t been able to tell yet, the Tigers’ system is jam-packed with pitching talent. With all of that talent, it can be hard to show everyone the attention they deserve and it seems like people have already forgotten what Beau Burrows accomplished in 2018. Granted his 4.10 ERA at Double-A Erie wasn’t the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen, but Burrows had more going on than what you can see from just looking at the surface. Burrows struck out 127 batters in 134 frames (nearly a batter per inning), limited opponents to just 12 home runs in 26 starts, and logged 130 innings for the second consecutive season. The cherry on top, he did so at just 21 years old, three years younger than most of his competition. He’s shown great command of his mid 90’s fastball and his hammer curve, but his changeup and slider still are works in progress. Burrows looks like a strong mid-rotation starter with the upside of a #2 if he can develop that changeup more. He’ll start the year at Triple-A, but there is a good bet you’ll see Beau in Detroit in 2019.
Brock Deatherage, OF
Brock Deatherage was drafted in the 10th round of the 2018 draft out of NC State and so far has exceeded all expectations in his young career. In his first game as a pro, Deatherage smashed three home runs. While this left-handed batter has some pop in his bat, speed is his most prominent tool. He has legitimate 70 speed (at minimum) which has already led to success on the base paths and plus range in center. If Deatherage continues hitting and playing defense like he did in 2018 when he reaches AA at some point in 2019, it’s entirely possible he will be able to carve out a role on a major league club in the future.
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP
In both 2017 and 2018 MLB.com had Kyle Funkhouser listed as one of the Tigers’ top 10 preseason prospects, but he has fallen outside of top 10 this year due to past injuries. For all of the concerns surrounding Funkhouser’s health over the past few seasons, many overlook the fact that he nearly logged 100 innings across two levels in 2018. The 24-year-old struck out nearly a batter per inning in 2018 and was (mostly) able to limit home runs. Funkhouser has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but his secondary pitches and sudden lack of control are two big areas of concern. A healthy 2019 season would go a long way towards putting himself back on the map as the Tigers plan out their future roster.
Dawel Lugo, 2B/IF
Dawel Lugo is a guy that seems to have lost his momentum. Lugo makes enough contact to hit for a respectable average, but without much power or speed upside. The biggest obstacle in Lugo’s path to everyday duty at the major league level is his poor plate discipline, but there are still reasons for optimism. Lugo is still relatively young at just 24 years old. He also looked more comfortable at the plate in Detroit, with nearly as many walks (7) as he drew all season with the Mud Hens (9). Last season he was also transitioning over to a new position at second base, adding even more stress to his plate. 2019 should go a long way to proving whether Lugo has already reached his floor as a utility infielder with enough power to punish a fastball when challenged or if he has additional upside.
Jose De La Cruz, OF
Jose De La Cruz was ranked as No. 15 on MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects list when the Tigers signed him last year. De La Cruz is considered a great overall package with lots of tools and has some of the best raw power in the class. His arm is strong enough to play the corner outfield positions, but he’ll likely start his professional career in center field. Look for him to get some Rookie ball work this season.
Bryan Garcia, RHP
Bryan Garcia is a relief pitcher with considerable upside. He missed the entire 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery but should return early in 2019 with a late-season Major League debut within reach. Armed with a mid 90’s fastball and a plus slider Garcia has the arsenal to be an impact bullpen piece. It will be interesting to see how he comes back from surgery because he has the potential to be a shutdown closer.
Eliezer Alfonzo, C/1B
At just 19 years old, Eliezer Alfonzo is a Venezuelan catcher/first baseman that has shown above-average contact skills and plate approach. He had a small sample size in Rookie ball last year, but his numbers really jump off the page at you. In 2018 he hit .324/.417/.413/.830 and walked 29 times compared to just 17 strikeouts. If Alfonzo can continue on this pace he could be an intriguing MLB piece down the road for the Tigers.
Cam Gibson, OF
I mentioned it during the previous entry in the series, but there are plenty of prospects in the Tigers’ system with impressive family pedigrees, Cam Gibson is one of those prospects. The son of former Tigers’ great Kirk Gibson, Cam was the Tigers’ fifth-round pick out of Michigan State in 2015. He recently turned 25 back on February 12th and this will be his fourth season in the minor leagues. Gibson had a respectable 2018 season between Lakeland and Erie but with a career .243 batting average, his chances of making it to the MLB with Detroit is unlikely.
Dane Myers, RHP
Dane Myers was the Tigers 6th round pick out of Rice in the 2017 draft. He has pitched well at the lower end of Single-A. This last year he had a respectable 3.33 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and struck out more than twice as many batters as he walked. Myers will probably start back in A ball this year and seems likely to get a heavier test this summer at Lakeland. If he can continue to hold his own he could make his way into the Tigers bullpen down the road.
Thanks for reading this far! If you’re interested in reading the previous post in the series, you can check it out using the link below: