By: Will Burchfield
It’s far too soon now, just as it was then.
But in judging the prospects the Tigers received at the trade deadline, it can be instructive to see how they’ve adjusted since changing teams.
The organization is expecting the five infielders in question to move steadily through the minor-league ranks.
So, who’s off to a good start? Who isn’t?
Leading the way is Isaac Paredes, the 18-year-old shortstop acquired from the Cubs in the Justin Wilson-Alex Avila trade. Paredes was the complementary piece in a package headlined by Jeimer Candelario, but he’s put on a show since entering the Tigers’ system.
In 10 games with Class-A West Michigan, Paredes is hitting .417 with four home runs and 12 RBI. He went 4-6 with two homers and four RBI on Tuesday in a blowout win.
Paredes, the Tigers’ eighth-best prospect per MLB.com, came in at No. 50 in KATOH’s top-100 prospect list entering this season. He has drawn strong reviews at the plate, where most scouts consider him beyond his years.
The one knock on Paredes is his lack of speed, which will likely prompt a move to second base or third base. But he looks to have all the physical traits to blossom into a big-league hitter.
So far, so good.
[RELATED: Yes, Avila Got Fair Return In Deadline Deals]
Candelario, on the flip side, hasn’t turned many heads since coming over from the Cubs’ system. He earned a temporary call-up to the Tigers on Monday, but not for anything he did in his debut stint with Triple-A Toledo. In six games, the 23-year-old hit .192 with seven strikeouts to one walk.
The Tigers are counting on Candelario to contribute at the big-league level in the near future — he could be their everyday third baseman as soon as next season — but he’ll have to prove his worth in Triple-A first. He currently ranks as the No. 3 prospect in Detroit’s system.
If Candelario is on the verge of taking over the hot corner in Detroit, Dawel Lugo, the lynchpin of the J.D. Martinez trade, is on the verge of doing the same in Toledo.
Lugo, 22, has performed well in 19 games with Double-A Erie, hitting .280 with four home runs and 14 RBI. He had a two-homer game earlier this month. He’s a switch hitter with gap-to-gap power.
The Tigers expect Lugo, their No. 14-ranked prospect, to take over third base in Toledo beginning next season.
Where Candelario, Lugo and Paredes project primarily as hitters, Sergio Alcantara has promise in the field. Also part of the Martinez trade, the 21-year-old is regarded as a can’t-miss shortstop. His slick glove is bested only by his terrific arm.
At the plate, he’s an uncertainty. But he’s a switch-hitter with a strong contact rate and a good eye. In 16 games with Single-A Lakeland, Alcantara is hitting .255 with 10 strikeouts versus nine walks.
He’s the Tigers’ No. 23-ranked prospect and figures to be the starting shortstop in Erie in 2018.
Finally, Jose King. He’s the biggest unknown among the five prospects the Tigers added at the deadline. At 18 years old and in rookie ball, he fits the definition of a project.
He’s a shortstop with plus-plus speed. In nine games with the Gulf Coast League Tigers (West), King is hitting .278 with 10 strikeouts. He has three stolen bases, but he’s also been thrown out three times.
King was the third piece of the Martinez return.
Prior to the trade deadline, the Tigers didn’t have a single infielder — excluding catchers — who ranked among their top-30 prospects. Between Candelario, Paredes, Lugo and Alacantara, they now have four.