By: Will Burchfield
Baseball America released on Monday its top 100 prospects for 2018, and three Tigers cracked the list.
Reflective of the organization’s strength, the trio is comprised of right-handed pitchers.
Franklin Perez is No. 35, Alex Faedo is No. 50 and Matt Manning is No. 78.
Perez, 20, was acquired from the Astros in last year’s Justin Verlander trade. He was ranked No. 54 in Baseball America’s original 2017 rankings and made a significant jump by recording a 3.02 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over 86 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A.
He has a four-pitch arsenal centered on a four-seam fastball that peaks around 96 mph, per MLB pipeline. His velocity should increase as he continues to add strength. He also throws a curveball, changeup and slider, all three of which can be effective out pitches.
Perez is expected to start 2018 at Double-A Erie and could well make his big-league debut before the season is over.
Faedo, 22, was the Tigers’ first-round draft pick (No. 18 overall) in 2017. He dazzled in last year’s College World Series, lifting Florida to a national championship and earning MVP honors. On top of his great stuff — he features an arsenal similar to that of Perez — Faedo has the kind of fearless attitude the Tigers love.
“We feel he fits obviously at the top of the rotation,” said GM Al Avila following the draft.
Avila said Faedo’s delivery is reminiscent of Max Scherzer. He throws a mid-90’s fastball with sink and a terrific slider. His changeup is the pitch that needs the most work. It remains to be seen how quickly Faedo climbs the minor league ladder, but given his polish after three seasons in college he seems to be on the fast track to the majors.
Manning, who turns 20 next week, was Detroit’s first-round draft pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016. He had a terrific start to 2017 in Class-A short season, but struggled a bit when elevated to full season. In five starts with West Michigan, he had a 5.06 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP.
He fell 16 spots from last year’s opening rankings.
Still, the 6’6 Manning has the tools to be a frontline starter down the road. He throws a fastball that sits around 96-97 mph and his extension is said to make it look even faster. He also features a power curve that induces lots of whiffs. His athleticism should help him corral his big frame.
Manning was Detroit’s sole top-100 prospect entering last season, per Baseball America. The organization heads into this season with three, and it will surely add a fourth with the first overall selection in this year’s draft.
Could it be another right-hander from Florida? Don’t count it out.
The Tigers also collected a number of strong position players through last season’s trades, particularly around the infield. One of them, third baseman Jeimer Candelario, is expected to start the season in Detroit.
Of the Tigers’ top-10 prospects per Baseball America, six were acquired last year.