ESPN: Tigers minor league system among bottom 10

The Detroit News

If the Tigers were to sing the Bob Evans' "Down on the Farm" jingle, it would more of a cry into an empty well.

1. Matt Manning, RH starter, age 19, 6-6, 190: Manning is an athlete – a big man who could have played college basketball in the fashion of his father, Rich, who worked two seasons in the NBA. Pedigree doesn’t matter here as much as an important, related fact. Manning has played other sports along the way. He is a pitcher with fewer miles on his odometer than often is the case for teenage standouts. Toss in his big fastball and helpful package of secondary pitches, and the Tigers were confident last June they had added (signing price: $3.5 million) a potential ace right-hander to a farm system begging for bright lights. Manning is progressing nicely: fastball in the mid 90s, curveball, baby change-up that steadily should grow. He struck out 46 batters in 29 2/3 innings during last summer’s debut in the Gulf Coast League. Expect a few more signs in 2017 for why the Tigers made him last year’s ninth overall pick.

At least that's the assessment of  ESPN's Keith Law, who puts Detroit's minor league system among baseball's bottom 10 at No. 24.

The good news? Last year, the Tigers were No. 26 in his annual ranking. Click here for the bottom 10 ranking.

Law underscores the Tigers' plethora of flamethrowers, notably 2016 first-rounder Matt Manning (98 mph). From there, things began to thin out.

Law writes, "While there are plenty of future relievers to be found here (led by potential closer Joe Jimenez), there’s a quiet underclass of prospects who project to play in the middle of the field and provide real defensive value, with the primary questions around their bats rather than their gloves or positions.

"That said, too many recent Tiger draft picks have had disappointing starts to their pro careers, even still-promising prospects like Beau Burrows, Derek Hill and Spencer Turnbull. If that group continues to stagnate, this system will end up in the bottom three next winter."