Detroit Tigers Top 10 Prospects
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Moderator: Pat Caputo will being taking questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Eddie from West Lafayette, IN asks:
Pat, How on Earth can Cody Ross not crack your top ten list of Detroit Tigers prospects? The only knock anybody ever seems to have against him is his height, at 5’ 11” and still growing, he is the same height as many modern day sluggers including Manny Ramirez, Magglio Ordonez, and many others in addition to Hank Aaron, the man who hit more homeruns than anybody to play in the Major Leagues. This is not to say that Cody Ross will be breaking down homerun barriers, but a player’s height does not preclude him from being able to hit for power. Also, it should be pretty hard to criticize someone’s offensive ceiling given what Cody Ross has done at the plate throughout his Minor League Career, posting slugging percentages of .515 in AAA at age 22, .352 in AA at age 21, .461 at age 20 in high A, and .396 at the pitcher friendly confines of Old Kent Park back when he was 19 years old, a year that looks very similar to your number 2 prospect, Brent Clevlen. I do have doubts about Cody Ross’s plate discipline, but he has shown in the past he does have a decent eye. But if that were the reason for keeping him off the list, I would love to know why guys like Nook Logan, Anderson Hernandez, Brandon Inge, and Omar Infante have cracked the list in the past with much worse batting eyes among many other flaws that have predictably kept them from success. It can’t possibly be health reasons that have kept him off the list, as he is almost all set for training camp, while guys like Kenny Baugh and Rob Henkel are nice and settled on your list. There also seems to be this bias towards players who play many positions, as guys who “don’t have a position” or “project to fourth outfielders” simply because they have a bit of flexibility. Writing for a national publication I would hope you are above downgrading somebody for their positional flexibility. Cody Ross has done a fantastic job in the Tigers organization to date, and there is no reason for him to be shoved out of the way in favor of guys like Jay Sborz, who had a hard time retiring guys fresh out of high school this past summer and still has a long long long way to go before he can even start to sniff the big leagues, Kody Kirkland, who cooled off mightily towards the end of the season and also in the Instructional Leagues after getting off to a hot start in the NY-Penn league, or especially Scott Moore, who hasn’t hit the broad side of a barn since the 2001 season, his Junior year in High School. There has to be some reason that Ross isn’t one of the Tigers top prospects in your mind, and I would like to know what it is, because it really seems like it’s down to an evaluation error by scouting types, who have certain biases against players they have deemed they don’t want to succeed. I’d really hate for that to be the case.
 A: 

Pat Caputo: sorry, i'm late...had some technical difficulties...I like Cody ross as a prospect. there is a lot of debate among scouts about him. they either like him or don;t think he has enough tools to make it. I think he has enough tools to make it and if the list was just up to me, he probably would have made the top 10. but I have to take into account what scouts tell me from both sides on this. I like the way he grinds. I do think he has decent power potential. He's good defensively. but don't be fooled by that 5-11 listing. He's more like 5-8 or 5-9. If he has a flaw it's that all his tools are ok, but none exceptional. That means he'll probably be an extra outfielder

 Q:  Jim S. from Milwaukee asks:
Thanks for taking my question...love the chats. Can you comment on Kyle Sleeth's upside? If he were in another organization with better pitching, would he project as a #1 or more like a #3? How would you rank him with the other top AL prospects Zack Greinke, Adam Loewen, Dustin McGowan and Jeremy Guthrie?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: he probably wouldn't be No. 1 without pitching professionally, but he'd be in the top three or four regardless the organization. He has a chance to be an exceptional major league pitcher. The Tigers were lucky he was there at No.3

 Q:  Jim Burroughs from Dearborn, MI asks:
What is the status of Matt Wheatland, the first-round pick from a few years ago, who has been hurt most of the time?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: they say he's ready to go for spring training after pitching in the instructional league where he held up and threw OK. but given his history, I'll believe it when I see it.

 Q:  john from miami asks:
What do you think are Joel Zumaya's chances are of remaining a starting pitcher given his ability and age?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: they'll keep him as a starter for awhile to get him innings pitching professionally. He has a nasty fastball and an all-out motion that makes him look like a closer in the future, but that decision will come down the road when he gets into a Double-A ball

 Q:  Benjamin from Chicago asks:
How is Wilken Ramirez coming along? Are the Tigers satisfied with his progress?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: They love him. He has excellent power potential and is a better prospect than his statistics last season, even thoug they weren't bad, suggest.

 Q:  John from Cleveland asks:
Any update on the draft and follow prospects from the 2004 draft - Adam Trent, Sean Henry, Josh Waupepaugh??
 A: 

Pat Caputo: Trent and henry were high school kids...Don't know what they've being to sign wahpepah..will check later

 Q:  Dave from Center Line asks:
Every year you (book) leave Cody Ross off the top 10. Every year it seems like he proves you wrong. His numbers and age at the level he's playing should show that he's a top prospect...thanks!
 A: 

Pat Caputo: see first question...

 Q:  Eddie from Ohio asks:
Scott Moore over Cody Ross? Please tell me that's a typo
 A: 

Pat Caputo: It's amazing how quickly a lot of people in the Tigers organization and fans have already given up on Moore. There was a reason he was taken eighth overall in the draft. He has some offensive upside. He didn't do that poorly at the plate last season and he did have to go through a position chance he'll be pretty good.

 Q:  Thom from Ann Arbor, MI asks:
Pat, do you buy into the idea that the latest moves made by the "Tigers" are a sign of a commitment to winning, or are the tigers really just the lions in different uniforms? Will we be equating pudge rodriguez with scott mitchell? Also, kirkland and clevlen....do either of them have star potential or are their celings averagesolid major leaguers?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: Cleven and Kirkland are the golden boys in the organization right now. They have good all-around tools and are both competitive kids with good mental makeups...If there is a concern from my standpoint it's that neither has one tool that stands out above other players. To me, that limits their ceiling to a degree. A lot will depend on how much power they develop. Third basemen and corner outfielders need to be run producers

 Q:  Jon from Peru asks:
What is your take on Victor Mendez and Wilton Reynolds? Do either of them have a chance at being a regular in the majors? I thought Reynolds in particular had big power potential.
 A: 

Pat Caputo: They have both shown flashes of being players, but not on a consistent basis. Neither has great tools. they are both long shots

 Q:  Michael Dwyer from Merliln, Ontario asks:
With so little talent that Detroit seems to have in the minor leagues , why would they not resign Seth Gresinger ?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: Because they already know what he can, and more importantly, can't do. He just doesn't have enough ability after his injuries to pitch successlly on a consistent basis in the major leagues. they want to put pitchers in the minor leagues who at least have a chance. I agree that's the right tactic

 Q:  Dave from Center Line asks:
How will the Tigers deal with the apparent logjam at 3d base in the lower minors, with Wilkin Ramirez, Kirkland, and Scott Moore?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: Yes, but none is a sure-thing prospect. And if they all develop, it'll be a nice problem for the Tigers to have because third base has traditionally been a trouble spot for them

 Q:  Brian from Chaska from asks:
Ryan Raburn? He seem to have a good amount of power in High A but is behind in the depth chart to other 3B thanks to his shoulder injury the year before. Does he have a chance to take a job away from someone in the future or will he never really get a good shot?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: he was moved to second base during the instructional league and played so well there that a Tigers official told me he thought he could become "another Jeff Kent.'' Considering the way Raburn has hit (.222 last year at Lakeland)since hurting his hip in an off-road vehicle accident, I think that might be an embelishment.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
Thanks for the time Pat, of the three rule 5'ers, does Shelton have the best shot at sticking, and if so at what position?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: Shelton will stick as a backup first baseman, DH and emergency catcher. He won't be a full-time catcher ever. He's very limited defensively. He's a typical "Money Ball'' player. He's a selective and productive hitter with a compact swing. They feel he can get 150 at bats and still continue to develop. Bumetay will likely stick. too. He has an excellent curveball and enough poise. He'll be a long man and maybe situational lefty. Urandta (sp)would be a stretch.;

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
Has Clevlen passed Moore as a prospect?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: Absolutely

 Q:  john from miami asks:
Where did 3B prospect Wilkin Ramirez rank in your top 30 and what does his future look like after putting up decent numbers for an 18 year old?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: He is in the Top 15, but I can't think of exactly where off the top of my head

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
In your opinion, what can Detroit do to climb out of their hole? Do they need to bring in more advanced college players via the draft, or is there an organizational problem in the player development system?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: That's the big question and I don't have an answer. Why did Omar Infante and Nate Cornjeo show such potential at Double-A and then appear in the major leagues as mere shadows of what they were? Trust me, I saw both play in Class A and Double A - a lot. They were so much more confident and focused. Cornejo used to throw 92-to-94 with nasty sink - Kevin Brown stuff. Now he throws 86. Infante day dreams out there when in 2001 he was determined as any athlete I have ever met - I'm serious.

 Q:  Dave from Center Line asks:
Why is Kyle Sleeth "far and away the pitcher with the highest ceiling" when it seems that Zumaya's ceiling is just as high, if not higher?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: That comment was made by a scout, not me...It was probably made because his motion is more refined, he has a better feel for pitching and more consistent off-speed stuff. He's also more athletic than Zumaya, which usually means less room for error in a delivery

 Q:  Paul from Tigerscentral.com asks:
Pat, can you comment on three prospects that should be in the 11-20 range? OF Cody Ross is recovered from his knee surgery; Don Kelly can play all four IF positions and has a terrific OBA and Jon Connolly led the minors in ERA. Could he be the next Jamie Moyer?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: I'm higher on ross than kelly or connolly...Kelly, to me, will be a utilityman. He doesn't have enough range to play short or second every day nor enough power to be a third baseman. Connolly doesn't throw hard nor is athletic. He has excellent command and is able to dominate with it at lower levels. At higher levels, the hitters are more patient will wait him out. Then we'll see if he has enough "stuff.'' He could be another andy van hekken

 Q:  Brandon from Lake Orion, MI asks:
Outside of Zumaya who has the best fastball in the Detroit system?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: Sleeth and Jay Sborz as starters. Franklyn German and Fernando Rodney among relievers.

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Hi Pat, Out of Preston Larrison, Kyle Sleeth, Kenny Baugh, and Rob Henkel, who is the most likely to help the Tigers this year?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: Sleeth probably less likely just because he is breaking in, although Dombrowski will move guys fast if they show they deserve it. The other three it's about equal. I'd probably say Henkel because he has three solid major league caliber pitches, but he has to stay healthy. Larrison has the best tools, but last season was a shocker for him. Baugh has an excellent makeup and could get there, too - if he's healthy.

 Q:  bill from grand rapids asks:
pat, in looking at your projected 2007 lineup i noticed that you did not include Giarrantano. If you expect the tigers to sign carlos guillen to a long term contract after this season would it then make sense to move Giarrantano to second base? i see you placed raburn at second even though you dont have him rated in your top ten list. Do you believe Giarrantano would not be ready by 2007 even though he is an advanced college player? Or do you believe he will be used in a trade?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: time will tell...but I don't see giarrantano moving to second. He's natural shortstop

 Q:  Michael from Baltimore asks:
Where do the likes of Cody Ross stand in the Tiger's prospect list? He seems to keep getting better at each stop up the minors.
 A: 

Pat Caputo: ross is in the top 15

 Q:  Don from Sterling Hts asks:
Hey Pat, big fan. who are the top 1B prospects in the system between Tejada, Richard Burgos, Kurtis Piantek and Kelly Hunt? Also, what type of talent is Wilkin Ramirez?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: Tejeda is the best of those you mentioned...Scouts don't like his tools, but his managers love his production. Seattle asked for him in the Guillen trade and the Tigers kept him.

 Q:  Brandon from lake Orion, Mi asks:
Pat, your the tigers you have the 2nd pick in the 2004 draft who are your top 2 guys you target as of today?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: It's a deep draft for college pitching. Probably the two best are Jeff Niemann, the 6-9 kid from Rice, and Justin Verlander, a 6-4 kid from Old Dominion. both are righties. They likely end up with one of those two, assuming each makes progress this coming season.

 Q:  Bruce Barut from Boston asks:
Hi Pat, Two years ago, with some fanfare, the Tigers signed two players from Cuba , SS Carlos Castillo and rhp Agustin Marquetti and a catcher from Australia, Brad Wise. After a short period in the farm system, all three have seemed to have disappeared. Any updates? Also, none of the top 10 prospects are foreign players, do the Tigers intend or need to (in your opinion) increase their presence outside the U.S? They do not support a team in the Venezuelan summer league and they have only a modest presence in the Dominican Republic. Do the Tigers need to alter their approach to compete for this talent pool? Thanks.
 A: 

Pat Caputo: wise and Rikki Johnson, a lefty they signed out Australia were wastes of bonus money by the Randy Smith regime. They have had some success in Latin America and the top 30 overall displays that. Ramirez, for example, was wanted by other teams and cost the Tigers nearly $1 million in bonus money

 Q:  Paul from Tigerscentral.com asks:
Glad to hear SS Tony G is skipping Low A. Will his DP partner Eric Rodland do the same? There is no competition, he's old so he needs to move quickly and he hit very well at Oneonta.
 A: 

Pat Caputo: I doubt it with Rodlund. My guess is that Raburn will be the second baseman to start the year at lakeland

 Q:  Michael from Baltimore asks:
Are the Tigers down on Omar Infante after one failed try at the majors? Especially after his winter ball experience this year, it seems to be a little early to give up on him.
 A: 

Pat Caputo: It's up to Infante more than the Tigers. They know he has ability, but he can't perform like he did last season and expect to play. If he does well this season, they will unload Guillen quickly. But Infante has to really perform and based on last season's disaster that remains a big if.

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Who do you see the Tigers drafting #2 overall this year. Do they go with Jered Weaver or one of the three Rice pitchers? They seem to have a track record with Rice pitchers and guys name Weaver.
 A: 

Pat Caputo: lol

 Q:  Keith Hess from Berwick, Pa asks:
Do the Tigers predict any contribution from oft-injured players Matt Wheatland or Neil Jenkins for 2004??
 A: 

Pat Caputo: see above on wheatland...jenkins has power, but too many holes in his swing and he's injury prone

 Q:  Sidney from Australia asks:
Who are the top sleepers in the Tiger organization..a pitcher and a position player?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: For a pitcher, I'll go with Eulogio de la cruz, who throws well into the 90s and struck out 30 in 24 innings in the gulf coast league last season. For a hitter, I'll go with Tejeda...all he does it produce

 Q:  Sidney from Edmond, OK asks:
Matt Roney and Wil Ledezma were Rule 5 guys last year. If they were to be eligible for the top 10 (or 30), where would they rank? Ledezma peaks my interset, what are his stregths and weaknesses and does he have a shot to be a #3 starter? Thanks for taking my question.
 A: 

Pat Caputo: i'd say Ledezma in the top 10 and roney in the top 20...Ledezma needs an excellent spring to make the major league club andor stick in the rotation. Lefties who throw in the low 90s and have decent breaking stuff don't grow on trees. His makeup is pretty good. I like him a lot, but he's still not there yet. Roney throws pretty hard, lacks the ability to repeat his pitches and command.

 Q:  Raymond from New York asks:
Would Matt Coenen, the big lefty #2 pick in 2001 whom the Tigers traded to the Braves have squeezed into the top 30 if still in the Detroit system ? thanks
 A: 

Pat Caputo: probably in the top 20

 Q:  Paul from Tigerscentral.com asks:
Where does setup man John Birtwell and closer Mike Kobow rank in the top 30? They have put up tremendous numbers throughout their pro career, usually on the same team. The only knock I see is their age relative to their competition.
 A: 

Pat Caputo: neither is in the top 30 for the reasons you mentioned

 Q:  Stu from Los Angeles asks:
Will Michael Woods ever live up to his potential?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: he has had injuries and he hits the ball with a lot of topspins so it doesn't carry, so I'd say his star has waned

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Pat, Do you feel the Tigers do a good job drafting and developing good speed and OBP players. It would seem that this should be there draft philosophy considering their ballpark.
 A: 

Pat Caputo: Dombrowski and his scouts believe more in the "tools'' rather than money ball approach. They liked it that teams went college crazy last year. Felt it allowed them to get Jay Sborz and Josh Rainwater, a couple high school pitchers they normally wouldn't have gotten. they have taken the same approach with hitters. An exception was taking Shelton in the Rule 5 draft

 Q:  Sidney from Edmond, OK asks:
Any thoughts on what the Tigers will do in the June draft? Do you see any hitters that could shoot up enough to warrant the #2 pick or are the college RHP's too deep to pass?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: they'll go with the best player available, but at this point, it's difficult to see where that's not a pitcher

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Who are the Tigers top Power prospects?
 A: 

Pat Caputo: I'd say Wilkin Ramirez and ryan Raburn