What a huge turnaround for the Tigers, who’d been near the bottom of these rankings for what felt like forever, with a lot of pretty high-profile draft misses and nothing from the international amateur market. Their last three first-rounders are all on the top 100 right now, and they’ve added some second-tier prospects through trades in the last 15 months to remake the system and give themselves a lot of position-player depth.

GO DEEPER

Top 100 MLB prospects 2024: Keith Law’s rankings, with Jackson Holliday at No. 1

Tigers 2024 top 20 prospects

(Note: Seasonal ages as of July 1, 2024. Scouting grades are on the traditional 20-80 or 2-8 scouting scale.)

1. Max Clark, OF (2024 top 100 ranking: 14)

Bats: L | Throws: L | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 205 | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

Clark could have been the first-overall pick in many drafts, but the 2023 draft was loaded at the top, so Clark ended up going third to the Tigers. He’s an actual five-tool prospect, by which I mean he is or projects to be above-average or better in all five tools — hit, power, run, field, throw — not just a great prospect who gets called “five tool” because it sounds good. He’s a 70 runner who plays easy plus defense in center with a strong enough arm for right, and he’s got a pretty yet powerful left-handed swing that gets to plus power already. He starts with a wide base at the plate with just enough room left for a small step forward without much weight transfer, then starts his hands extremely quickly to generate that plus power.

The only question about his tools is how good a hitter he is today, as he didn’t face any decent pitching among Indiana high schools; his pro debut included a lot of contact even when he was clearly gassed playing in Low A in September. He’s already strong for his age and size and doesn’t offer a ton of projection, but also doesn’t need it to profile as an above-average regular or better — a 30/30 guy who plays plus defense in center and at least has OBPs in the upper .300s.

2. Jackson Jobe, RHP (2024 top 100 ranking: 29)

Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 190 | Seasonal age in 2024: 21

Jobe missed the first half of 2023 with a back injury, but when he returned, he threw better than he had in all of 2022, throwing 64 innings across four levels, striking out 84, and walking just six batters. Jobe works at 94-98 mph with a four-pitch mix that features a plus changeup, an above-average curveball in the low 80s, and a hard but short slider at 89-92, with huge spin rates on the heater and breaking balls. I have the slower pitch as the better one now and think that if he focuses on it he can get it to plus, as it already has tight rotation and huge vertical break.

His delivery has effort to it even though it’s compact, with some head-whack at release, and he whips through the delivery so quickly he might not be generating enough of that velocity from his lower half. He’s a very good athlete, however, and should be able to make some adjustments if the Tigers want to try to reduce the effort involved. It’s No. 1 starter stuff and he at least has shown the kind of control to pitch atop a rotation, as long as he can stay healthy.

3. Colt Keith, 3B/2B (2024 top 100 ranking: 36)

Bats: L | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 201 | Seasonal age in 2024: 22

Keith was the Tigers’ fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft, meaning he was their last one, and he has a good chance to end up their best player in that class — even better than No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson. Keith has great feel for the barrel and makes a ton of hard contact, improving his typical launch angle this past year to get the ball in the air more. That allowed him to go from 11 homers in 113 games in 2021-22 to 27 homers in 126 games last season. He’s topped 110 mph already despite a short swing that you might think would limit his impact.

He’s turned himself into a capable third baseman, good enough to stay there, although he could also end up at second base to minimize any concerns about the arm strength not playing at the hot corner. I don’t think it matters much; even if he’s at first base, which now looks like a real worst-case scenario, he’ll hit enough to be at least a good regular with .280-.300 averages and 25-35 homer power. He’s athletic enough to be an average defender at second base with some work, though, and that could make him an easy 5-win player.

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4. Jace Jung, 2B/3B (2024 top 100 ranking: 87)

Bats: L | Throws: R | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 205 | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Jung was the 12th pick in the 2022 draft after two fantastic years hitting for Texas Tech. He did bring questions about his position and his unorthodox setup at the plate to pro ball, one of which I think has been answered. Jung starts with his hands way back and above his rear shoulder, which you’d expect to cause timing problems, but so far he’s at least shown he can make hard contact, with 28 homers between High A and Double A last year with solid (but not elite) exit velocities. He did show some holes after he moved to Double A, particularly missing fastballs up in the zone and sliders in and below it, which reawakened those concerns about his hand setup and timing, although the Tigers have some positive experience helping hitters simplify their swings (notably Parker Meadows) to reduce those concerns.

Of more import is Jung’s need for a position — he’s heavy-footed, far more so than his brother Josh, and while his defense at second graded out well by some team metrics, he’s not very mobile and I don’t think he’ll ever offer much range. If he’s a 45 defender at second with this sort of 60-70 extra-base-hits-a-year profile, he’s an above-average regular. He still has those same two questions to answer this year in Double A, however.

5. Parker Meadows, OF (2024 top 100 ranking: 97)

Bats: L | Throws: R | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 205 | Seasonal age in 2024: 24

Meadows reached the majors last year and gave a pretty good indication of the kind of player he’ll be in a larger sample — plus defense in center, plus speed, some power, some walks, enough swing-and-miss to keep him from being a star. A second-round pick in 2018, Meadows — the younger brother of former Tigers outfielder Austin Meadows — had big tools as a high schooler but had a huge hitch in his swing that made it hard for him to get to the ball on time, and he had OBPs below .300 for his first three seasons in pro ball. The Tigers helped him get rid of the big hitch before 2022 and he’s been a different hitter since then, with a .340 OBP across the past two seasons thanks to much better results on balls in play along with a small bump in his walk rates.

He’s every bit of 6-5 and has a big strike zone, so there’s going to be some swing and miss, but he doesn’t chase excessively and he makes enough contact in-zone to get to a .240ish average and 15-20 homers a year. His glove and arm were worth 5 runs above average by Statcast last year in less than a quarter of a season, and I believe he’s going to be worth +10 or more if he gets to play 150 games out there this year. Big velocity might end up his main weakness and the obstacle to him becoming a 4+ win player; the defense gives him a great foundation and even if he punches out 30 percent of the time, something he’s never done in the minors, he’d still be a soft regular with the other tools he brings to the table.

6. Justyn-Henry Malloy, OF (Just missed)

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 215 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 24

Malloy came to Detroit in the trade that sent reliever Joe Jiménez to Atlanta, and promptly led all minor leaguers with 110 walks last year, hitting .277/.417/.474 for Triple-A Toledo with 23 homers. He has a phenomenal idea at the plate, with a great feel for the strike zone and for getting to pitches he can hit, and he makes hard contact — just not quite at the level you might expect from his strong build, peaking around 110 mph in Triple A. His swing works fine and he’s got quick hands to get to velocity, perhaps not always getting his weight into the contact because he knows how to shorten up to put the ball in play.

He’d be a top-100 guy for the hit tool and on-base skills if he had a position, but he’s not good at third base and only marginally better than that in an outfield corner, although his throwing is more accurate from left or right than it was at the hot corner. He should just go to the outfield full-time rather than splitting his duties between the outfield and third, or just move to DH. I think his bat will play there, although the bar to be an everyday DH and still produce more than average overall value is pretty high.


Kevin McGonigle with Team USA baseball. (Daniel Shirey / MLB Photos via Getty Images)

7. Kevin McGonigle, SS/2B

Height: 5-10 | Weight: 187 | Bats: L | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

McGonigle was the Tigers’ second pick in 2023, No. 37 out of a Philadelphia-area high school, noted for his really sound approach at the plate and feel for contact, all of which carried over in his brief summer debut, as he hit .315/.452/.411 in 21 games with 18 walks and 10 strikeouts. He can hit, with a simple and clean left-handed swing that gets the bat to the zone consistently and on time, although I don’t think there’s a ton of power there without some adjustments. He played shortstop in high school but has to move to second base, although his instincts are off the charts and he’ll probably end up a better defender than you might expect from a fringy runner.

We don’t get a ton of guys like him, who hit for average with what might be elite plate discipline and hit the ball hard enough to believe he’ll keep it going, but not so much that you can project power. His plan at the plate and his ball/strike recognition are both so good that he might post some really strong OBPs in the low minors, which I think will raise my confidence that he can reach his above-average regular upside.

8. Ty Madden, RHP

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 215 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 24

Madden is a huge right-hander who’s 91-97 mph and who’s changed his delivery with the Tigers’ help to stay behind the ball more for greater carry up in the zone. He’s got a four-pitch mix but the fastball is the king, and the changeup, while improved, hasn’t helped him against lefties, who hit .267/.369/.502 last year against him, with 12 of the 16 homers he allowed. He does hold his velocity late into games, giving him bulk value. It’s 45 control and command right now, so either that has to improve or he has to find a way to get lefties out — or, preferably, both — to be more than a fifth starter.

9. Brant Hurter, LHP

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 250 | Bats: L | Throws: L | Seasonal age in 2024: 25

Hurter’s a lower-slot lefty without premium stuff, but he gets outs because he tunnels all of his pitches well, including a natural sinker and a four-seamer he can use up top against right-handed batters, although that last one is a work in progress. He utterly kills lefties — .191/.245/.224 last year with no homers in 163 PA — and that will keep you employed for a long time. He does have a changeup with some late tail to it, and if he can combine that with the four-seamer up to neutralize righties a bit more, he can start.

10. Josue Briceno, C/1B

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 200 | Bats: L | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

Briceno was one of the best hitters in the Florida Complex League last year as an 18-year-old. He was then bumped up to Low A late in the season and continued to hit, reaching 109 mph at the latter stop. He’s also a catcher and a left-handed hitter, if I didn’t already have your attention. It’s a good approach and he has loose, quick hands to continue to both hit and drive the ball, although there’s a hint of a grooved path in his swing that he’ll have to fight against. He’s big for a catcher, 6-4 and 200, at the top end of the scale for the position but not so big that you can rule it out, although he’s also not great back there and it’s more likely he ends up elsewhere. He only caught 24 games last year, with some time at first base as well; if he can catch, he might be a star, but I’m hedging that bet a little with this ranking because I think he ends up at first.

11. Eddys Leonard, SS

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 195 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Leonard went to the Tigers at the 2023 trade deadline because the Dodgers needed 40-man space. The Tigers promoted him immediately to Triple A and he took off, hitting .302/.374/.530 in 40 games in Toledo, boosting his offense in every way even with the increase in competition. He’s a strong kid who has hit the ball hard for several years now, peaking around 111 mph in Triple A, and while he’s not a shortstop he’s fine at second or third. He did show some weakness against breaking stuff in Triple A, helping drive his big platoon split last year, but at least he has a role now as a lefty-mashing utility infielder — and the Tigers got him for free.

12. Hao-Yu Lee, 2B

Height: 5-9 | Weight: 190 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 21

Lee came to Detroit in the trade that sent Michael Lorenzen to Philadelphia, as Lee was blocked by Bryson Stott anyway and can’t play anywhere but second base. He’s got a short swing with strong hand-eye coordination, making a ton of contact, but with 45 power and just average bat speed. He has to hit the ball harder and/or for more power to project as a regular, as he’s going to be just adequate defensively.

13. Max Anderson, 2B

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 215 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 22

Anderson was the Tigers’ second-round pick, a bat in search of a position, as he mashed all spring for Nebraska, hitting velocity, showing good patience, and hitting for the most power of his career. The swing works and he’s strong enough for at least average power, so it’s probably going to come down to his glove. He played mostly third base for the Huskers, which wasn’t great, and the Tigers moved him to second, which is more likely, but if he can’t stay there it’s left field or DH. If he stays on the dirt, he could be a regular.


Wilmer Flores is the younger brother of the Giants’ infielder of the same name. (Mike Janes / Four Seam Images via Associated Press)

14. Wilmer Flores, RHP

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 225 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Flores went to some outside pitching clinic in the 2022-23 offseason and it wrecked his delivery, as he was thrusting his whole lower half forward and his arm couldn’t catch up. He ended up dialing back his velocity to throw more strikes, but just when he was having some success, he hurt his hamstring and missed almost two months. He was 91-95 mph in the fall with a 55 slider and 45 changeup. I don’t know why he sought that additional counsel, but it’s probably set him back a year or two.

15. Paul Wilson, LHP

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 205 | Bats: R | Throws: L | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

Wilson is the son of former Giants pitcher Trevor Wilson, and went to Detroit with their third-round pick last June. He’s got plus velocity with good riding life on the fastball, working with a curve and slider, neither of which is better than average just yet. He’s cleaned up his delivery some since he was an underclassman and was throwing more strikes last spring, helping him move up draft boards. He’s a projectable teenage arm, so job No. 1 is staying healthy, and then we can talk about jobs No. 2-5.

16. Troy Melton, RHP

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 210 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Melton was a young senior at San Diego State when the Tigers took him in the fourth round in 2022, and he’s had success at both levels of A-ball so far by getting guys to chase his premium stuff. He’s been up to 98 mph and sits 94-96 with his four-seamer, along with an above-average curveball and average changeup. He gets big induced vertical on the fastball and a lot of horizontal movement on the curveball, but despite the low walk rate last year of 6.4 percent, he’s not actually in the zone that much. It’s a super-short arm action and there’s definitely some upper-body effort there that might be holding back his control. There’s something here, maybe a starter, maybe a power reliever, depending on how the delivery and control evolve.

17. Peyton Graham, SS

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 185 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Graham is a 70 runner who can play shortstop but needs to get stronger both for more impact with the bat and to just stay on the field, as he missed time last year with multiple soft-tissue injuries. He played just 54 games in Low A, where he was too old and experienced for the level, and didn’t perform or make much hard contact. It’s speed, a plus arm, defense at short or even in center. If he can get some muscle on his frame and shorten up his path to the ball he still has time to get on the path to become a regular.

18. Enrique Jimenez, C

Height: 5-10 | Weight: 170 | Bats: B | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 18

The Tigers signed Jimenez for $1.5 million last January, hoping to get a switch-hitting catcher who might grow into some power. He’s athletic enough to stay back there, with good actions and footwork and enough arm to be a catcher but probably nothing more than average. He’s got a very easy left-handed swing, with a little more effort but maybe more juice from the right side. His DSL debut was solid, enough to get him on this list even though he’s probably 4-5 years away.

19. Dylan Smith, RHP

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 24

I’ve been a Smith fan since he was a junior at Alabama, but he was hurt much of last year with tricep tendonitis and didn’t have his best stuff when he returned in the Arizona Fall League. He can sit 93-95 mph with huge induced vertical and can spin and manipulate three different breaking balls, with an improved changeup as well. He has to stay healthy and add some more weight, and then he might still have a chance to start, although the odds right now are much higher than he’s a multi-inning reliever.

20. Carson Rucker, 3B

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 195 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

Rucker was the Tigers’ fourth-round pick, a shortstop out of a Tennessee high school. After the draft, Detroit immediately slid him over to third base. He’s got a sweet right-handed swing that gets him to 50-55 power now, projecting to plus in time.

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Others of note

• Right-hander Andrew Dunford is 6-7, up to 95 mph with a sharp curveball, with a long arm stroke that he has to calm down but pretty clear upside from the size and arm strength.

Wenceel Pérez makes a ton of contact without power or even enough hard-hit balls to hope for power, and he’s had to move to the outfield because he’s had trouble throwing even from second base.

• Right-hander Jaden Hamm, their 2023 fifth-round pick, is 90-95 mph with a 12/6ish curveball and a pretty good changeup for a guy who comes straight over the top.

2024 impact

Keith has the second-base job, clearly, since the Tigers just gave him a multi-year contract before he even made his debut. But Detroit should just play the kids this year — let Meadows play center, try Malloy at DH or in left, and if Jobe is healthy in June, I wouldn’t let him waste bullets in the minors either.

The fallen

I don’t mean to be mean, or hurt you on purpose, but there’s a whole list for this category. Izaac Pacheco, their over-slot pick in the second round in 2021, hit .211/.284/.352 in High A with 160 strikeouts (32 percent). Manuel Sequera, given a $750,000 bonus in 2019, hit .207/.283/.357 while repeating Low A at age 20. Cristian Santana, given a $2.95 million bonus in 2021, hit .156/.365/.312 with a 28 percent strikeout rate while also repeating Low A, albeit at age 19. Abel Bastidas signed the same year as Santana, taking $1.175 million, and hit .216/.291/.312 in Low A at age 19. And Dillon Dingler, the second player they took in 2020 (38th overall), hit .202/.266/.384 in Triple A as a 25-year-old. It’s really been a rough couple of years on the farm here, even with some scattered successes, before things started to trend up this year.

Sleeper

If Briceno shows that he just might be a catcher, he’s running right up the list, because the value of that bat at that position would be enormous.

(Top photo of Max Clark: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)



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Golam Muktadir is the chief editor of Surprise Sports and the Proges News. He checks all the sports content and craft it to make it more digesting for the readers.