By: Will Burchfield
No, it wasn’t the overhaul many fans had hoped for.
But the Tigers used the trade deadline to inherit a respectable group of prospects and boost the ceiling of their farm system.
In terms of positional depth, the organization is in a much better spot than it was just two weeks. This was crucial.
In dealing J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, the Tigers acquired five infield prospects, including, quite possibly, their everyday third baseman beginning next season. Along with the draft, the organization added eight prospects to its top 30 in the past month and a half, per MLB.com.
The prize of the trade haul was Jeimer Candelario, a third baseman with a promising bat. Candelario, 23, was the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect — in an admittedly watered-down farm system — and becomes the Tigers’ No. 3.
Nicholas Castellanos is destined to move to first base or right field in the near future, creating a pathway to the bigs for Candelario. Should the Tigers part ways with Victor Martinez this offseason and move Miguel Cabrera to full-time DH, Candelario could be the team’s starting third baseman as soon as 2018.
For now, he will join Triple-A Toledo.
The Wilson-Avila trade also yielded shortstop Isaac Paredes, now the Tigers’ No. 8 prospect. Just 18 years old, Paredes is a long way from the majors but has drawn strong reviews offensively.
Most scouts consider him beyond his years at the plate, both in terms of pop and approach. He will report to Class-A West Michigan.
Regarding the Martinez return — which was unfairly panned from the start — the chief asset was third baseman Dawel Lugo. Formerly Arizona’s No. 2 prospect, he becomes Detroit’s No. 14. He’s regarded as a strong hitter with a quick bat who’s still developing power.
Candelario might seem to minimize Lugo within the Tigers’ farm system, but together, they improve Detroit’s odds of growing a big-league third baseman within. There’s nothing wrong with having insurance on the farm.
Lugo, 22, has played 12 games for Double-A Erie, where he’s hitting .205 with two home runs. The Tigers are confident he will make the jump to Triple-A next season.
The Martinez package also included two shortstops, 22-year-old Sergio Alcantara and 18-year-old Jose King. Alcantara fits the profile of Jose Igelsias — terrific defender, modest hitter. His arm is considered his best asset.
Alcantara has spent nine games with Single-A Lakeland, hitting .242, and the Tigers expect him to be the starting shortstop in Double-A in 2018.
King, who’s still in rookie ball, is considered a high-risk, high-reward prospect. He’s best known for his speed.
The Tigers now have four infielders, excluding catchers, among their top-30 prospects. All of them were acquired in the past two weeks. As much as this speaks to the organization’s lack of depth beforehand, so does it highlight the improvements made at the deadline. A gaping hole has begun to be filled.