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State of the Farm

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State of the Farm

Postby Cornbread Maxwell » Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:50 pm

I ran across this article recently and thought it was a great look into whats happening down on the farm. Enjoy ;-D

Paul Wezner wrote:After the release of TigsTown.com’s Top 50 Prospects, a common question is, where exactly does the entire system stand compared to the rest of the major leagues, and just how high of a caliber are these prospects. Every year, the President has his State of the Union address, inside, read the State of the Farm System address.


So, the big question of course, where does this group stand? Well, if you rank all 30 organizations and fit the Tigers in, they’re definitely not high. Realistically, they are probably somewhere in the bottom third.

Now, part of this is skewed because of the high number of youngsters the Tigers currently have on the big league roster. Players like Wil Ledezma, Jeremy Bonderman and Omar Infante are all high caliber prospects that no longer qualify for the list, but may still hold prospect status if they were in an organization where there wasn’t a dire need to rush them to fill holes on the big league roster.

However, no matter how you look at it right now, the Tiger farm system still isn’t very strong – and the Tiger front office, especially President/CEO Dave Dombrowski, is well aware of it. The first step was obviously Dombrowski’s replacement of Greg Smith as the Scouting Director – but there will definitely be more changes on the way. The decision not to bring back Gary Green and Rick Morales is just another sign that the Tigers’ brass knows there is a problem, a problem that needs to be addressed.

So, what looks good with the farm system? Well, the pitching depth has definitely improved, as for the first time in many years; the Tigers have multiple arms at each level with plenty of potential. They even have quite a few arms that have high-end potential, as the Tigers recent first round draft picks (Justin Verlander and Kyle Sleeth) as well as pitchers like Joel Zumaya and Humberto Sanchez could become top of the rotation starters.

The Tigers have plenty of position players as well – there’s just one problem. The ones with loads of potential have yet to show much on the field, and the ones that have produced in the minors aren’t considered to have excellent tools. Curtis Granderson, Chris Shelton and Tony Giarratano are by far the top position players in the organization, yet all project to be major league starters, not all stars.

Much of this is believed to be attributed to the scouting philosophy of the organization to stay away from pure tools players, rather electing to go after players that have shown solid production. The problem with this philosophy, and which has been the case for past 10 years with the Tiger farm system, is that it produces plenty of mediocre big league players, but none to really rely on. As one scout joked recently, whenever you were looking for a utility infielder, 4th outfielder, or long reliever, look to the Tigers, because that’s all they ever develop.

Dombrowski has started to make a change in this department, making it a point to obtain high quality arms, almost to a fault, with the hope that the organization can then develop such prospects. It remains to be seen whether or not the coaching staffs throughout the minors can follow through on their end of the bargain, and turn these high quality arms into good pitchers, but the team as at least moving in the right direction, a big plus as pitching continues to be a desired commodity.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the position player department still needs a major overhaul. The organization has yet to make a marked improvement in finding position prospects that will turn into stars. The supposed studs of the 2002 draft – Scott Moore and Brent Clevlen – both had a huge letdown in 2004, as Moore continued to struggle defensively as well as struggling to make contact, while Clevlen regressed in virtually every facet of the game.

The Tigers have been filling these voids by signing older veterans, but at some point, they’ll need to be able to develop their own guys to keep a continuous talent flow into the big league club.

Overall, things are starting to look up, but realistically, this group still has a long ways to go before the farm system can be considered a strength for the club. And no matter how much Mike Illitch is willing to open his wallet, without a strong source of young talent, the Tigers will not be able to continually produce competitive teams.
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Postby SaintsOfTheDiamond » Tue Dec 28, 2004 4:40 pm

Interesting read. I was under the impression than the Tigers had one of the stronger minor league systems in baseball, like upper third or so. :-?
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Postby Cornbread Maxwell » Tue Dec 28, 2004 5:40 pm

SaintsOfTheDiamond wrote:Interesting read. I was under the impression than the Tigers had one of the stronger minor league systems in baseball, like upper third or so. :-?


Yeah, I was under the impression we had a better farm system too, but I can take consolation that its getting better. I am kinda pumped about our young arms - thats one heck of a batch of young flame throwers.

Im excited that Omar Infante is progressing so well - thats huge for us.

You will see Nook Logan this yr, and if he isnt already on your radar, put it like this: the guy has an 80% SB ratio - has done it at every level, and is easily one of the fastest guys in MLB. Alex Sanchez will have a difficult time holding him back - in fact, the only advantage Sanchez has over Nook is that he Alex is a slightly better hitter and has "experience". Other than that Nook is the better player - both on the base paths and in the outfield.

I am also excited to see Granderson and when he comes up too.

Shelton will be a solid DH when we need him.

Not that bad, we have a good handful of names to bring up, but overall still recovering from the days of Randy Smith.
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Postby moochman » Wed Dec 29, 2004 2:22 am

I don't know that Nook Logan will ever be more than a pinch runner/defensive replacement. He just looks too over-matched at the plate. Shelton looks like he might be able to hit some, he is very patient at the plate. Would like to see some power. Granderson is one of the mediocre talents they were referring to. Not that fast, not much power, not much of a defender.

I know I am being harsh, but I am pretty angry at the state of affairs with the minor league system and how many years it took to try to fix it. Dombrowski has been here 3 years, I think, and just this season he starts to shake up the minor league scouting? What took you so long? Everyone knew Randy Smith destroyed their minor leagues, so why wouldn't your first order fo business be to get rid of the people he had scouting for him. Ahh, what the heck is 3 more years?
I do think they might be headed in the right direction, but it will be years before we see if Dombrowski knows what he is doing.
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Postby Cornbread Maxwell » Wed Dec 29, 2004 12:32 pm

I also think the writer of the article is being overly critical as well. He has stated before a couple thing that I completely disagree with - like saying the Tigers need a backup C. Apparantly the Shelton - Inge combo isnt good enough for him.

Also - he is really down on the pitchers we are developing - and makes the case that it is basically a weakness in this organization. Once again I disagree - when you look at both the Farm and the youngsters on the Tigers roster you see a different story. Bonderman (22), Ledezma (23), Cornejo (25), Sleeth (23), Zumaya (20), Sanchez (21), and Verlander (21) make up one of the best young stables in the Tiger's organization that I can remember - and thats just the SPs. When you take into consideration the bullpen guys like Rodney, Spurling, Colyer, and German its hard not to be optimistic.

I keep reading reports linking Detroit with Lowe, but not necessarily from the Detroit papers. The FP, News, and other Detroit media outlets really havent warmed to the idea of spending a lot on him. Looking at the list above and including JJohnson, Maroth, and Knotts (who can do spot work if needed), its not hard to see why a lot of people dont think signinging Lowe to anything more than a 1 or 2 yr deal would be wize.

I like getting updates from Paul Wezner over at Scouts.com, but I dont necessarily agree with some of his conclusions.
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Postby moochman » Wed Dec 29, 2004 12:39 pm

I do think both Bonderman and Ledezma are fantasy sleepers this year. The others are just names with potential. I've heard names before and they didn't show up, so I can't rush to judgement on them.
I do like that Dombrowski likes pitchers with guns and hitters with power. I just need to see them make it to the bigs. There is something wrong with minor league system that gives you so many pithcher arm injuries and position players that don't know how to run, bunt, or field. Can't we just get someone up from our minors who doesn't look over-matched and ill prepared?
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Postby Cornbread Maxwell » Wed Dec 29, 2004 1:11 pm

moochman wrote:I do think both Bonderman and Ledezma are fantasy sleepers this year. The others are just names with potential. I've heard names before and they didn't show up, so I can't rush to judgement on them.
I do like that Dombrowski likes pitchers with guns and hitters with power. I just need to see them make it to the bigs. There is something wrong with minor league system that gives you so many pithcher arm injuries and position players that don't know how to run, bunt, or field. Can't we just get someone up from our minors who doesn't look over-matched and ill prepared?


I hear ya - but its kind of a catch-22 situation. The state of the team was so miserable that a lot of these guys are being hurried through instead of giving them the natural time that most prospects are given to develop. We dont have time to let them naturally progress, which in turn is stunting their growth. However, if we left them in a natural progression curve, then the organization would be hard pressed to field a competitive team. I truly believe the nucleus of Infante, Guillen, and Pena will allow the Tigers to develop some of the other youngsters for longer and thus creating a better product by the time they are ready. Tony Giarratano and Juan Tejada could be the first beneficiaries of this - neither are ready, both have solid talent that needs to be developed, and the upside is that neither are needed any time soon - thats a great sign for the Tigers if you ask me. Sure we dont have any elite position players comming through, but thats simply because we have focused on signing arms instead. If two or 3 of those arms come through we are looking at a great situation. I guess time will tell, but you can be more optimistic about the state of the team than you could be a yr or two ago - things are starting to come together.
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Postby mcqfesijiba » Sun Jan 23, 2005 4:02 pm

I like a lot of the Tigers pitching prospects. However, I just don't get excited over any of their hitters. Well, that's not entirely true. I like Granderson a little better than most, but I wonder how he can handle Comerica Park's vast CF. I think we'll be finding out pretty soon if he gets off to a good start in AAA. I'd really like to see former first rounder Scott Moore have a big year. He has some potential, but he has never really produced, which is why he doesn't get much notice.

This year, I'd love to see them take a top hitting prospect in the draft this year if at all possible. With the stock of pitchers currently, I'd like to see some improvements in hitting prospects.
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Re: State of the Farm

Postby cmchampa2 » Tue Feb 15, 2005 1:54 am

Cornbread Maxwell wrote:
The problem with this philosophy, and which has been the case for past 10 years with the Tiger farm system, is that it produces plenty of mediocre big league players, but none to really rely on. As one scout joked recently, whenever you were looking for a utility infielder, 4th outfielder, or long reliever, look to the Tigers, because that’s all they ever develop.

...

The Tigers have been filling these voids by signing older veterans, but at some point, they’ll need to be able to develop their own guys to keep a continuous talent flow into the big league club.

Overall, things are starting to look up, but realistically, this group still has a long ways to go before the farm system can be considered a strength for the club. And no matter how much Mike Illitch is willing to open his wallet, without a strong source of young talent, the Tigers will not be able to continually produce competitive teams.


This is off the subject a bit, but that argument sounds a little stupid the way the author constructs it. Basically, the Tigers produce average talent with low ceilings through their farm system. OK, I'll buy that. But even if "Illitch is willing to open his wallet" to bring in superstars, "the Tigers will not be able to continually produce competitive teams?" What? Why not? I think the author is suggesting that the only way to be "continually competitive" is to both develop superstars through the farm system AND purchase them in free agency. I'm pretty sure every franchise that makes it a policy to develope AND purchase great players is continually competitive. Hey! A never-ending flow of superstars! Why doesn't every team try this!?
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