Tigers’ farm system goes from ‘thin’ to ‘promising’

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — It was a simple request, really.

In a quick text exchange Friday morning, Keith Law, ESPN’s minor-league prospect savant, was asked to describe, in one word, the Tigers’ minor-league system of a month ago, and the Tigers’ minor-league system today, after the late-night blockbuster that sent Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros.

His responses:

* A month ago: “Thin.”

* Today: “Promising.”

So, there’s that, Tigers fans.

The Tigers late Thursday night acquired three of the top 11 prospects in an absolutely stacked Houston Astros system — among them right-hander Franklin Perez, center fielder Daz Cameron and catcher Jake Rogers. All three immediately leapt into the top eight Tigers prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

Perez, of important note, took over the Tigers’ top spot, bumping young right-hander Matt Manning down to No. 2. Cameron slid into the No. 6 spot, and Rogers the No. 8 spot.

Grayson Long, the right-hander acquired earlier Thursday from the Los Angeles Angels for outfielder Justin Upton, checked in at No. 15.

All told, the four Tigers trades — including outfielder J.D. Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks in mid-July, and reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila to the Chicago Cubs in late July — brought Detroit six new prospects among their top 15, according to MLB Pipeline.

More:In late-night stunner, Tigers trade Justin Verlander to Astros

Here’s what we know, so far, about what the Tigers got from the Astros:

* Perez: A 6-foot-3, 197-pound right-hander, he won’t turn 20 until December. The Venezuela native was ranked among the top 40 prospects in all of baseball in Baseball America’s midseason rankings, which came out last month. He doesn’t light up the radar gun like some, rather sitting low 90s, but scouts rave about his secondary pitches. He has 214 strikeouts in 203 minor-league innings, and carried a 0.994 WHIP in 54.1 innings at high-Single-A ball this season. He trained at former Tiger Carlos Guillen’s baseball academy in Venezuela before signing with the Astros at 16. Houston converted him from third base to a pitcher.

* Cameron: At 6-2 and 185 pounds, Cameron was a first-round pick (37th overall) in 2015, and comes from a strong pedigree. His father is Mike Cameron, who played 17 seasons in the major leagues, hitting 278 homers to go with 968 RBIs. It’s noteworthy that Daz’s power took a big step forward this season, as he hit 14 home runs to go with 73 RBIs at Single-A Quad Cities of the Midwest League. Daz, 20, can run like the wind, and has a big upside on defense.

* Rogers: He’s 6-1, 190 pounds and was a third-round pick by the Astros out of Tulane in 2016. Scouts say his defense far exceeds his offensive abilities, which means he probably projects as a backup at the major-league level. That said, Rogers, 22, this season has done his best to change some of those opinions, as he’s carried an .824 OPS through stops at low- and high-Single-A ball, with 18 homers and 70 RBIs, combined, at the two outposts.

More:National experts weigh in on Tigers-Astros trade

“All three players are outstanding athletes, and they greatly bolster our minor-league system,” Tigers GM Al Avila said in a statement early Friday morning.

“Perez was the headliner for us, cementing himself as a dominant force in each of his three years in professional baseball. Daz Cameron is someone that we view as one of the highest-ceiling players in the minors. Cameron is a guy that slipped in the draft because of signability concerns, but has always shown flashes of his dad’s play. Rogers plays beyond his years, demonstrating solid pop in his bat while having above average plate discipline, and our scouts have him rated as a reliable receiver behind the plate with an above-average arm.”