Tigers' system up to No. 14 in Baseball America's talent rankings as trade deadline nears

The Detroit News
Tigers pitching prospect Matt Manning is second in the Eastern League in strikeouts for Double-A Erie.

The Tigers' farm system appears to be making progress, even as it expects an influx of talent before the July 31 trade deadline.

Baseball America rated the Tigers' system 14th among the 30 major league systems in its updated talent rankings Thursday, up one spot from its preseason list.

The Tigers, who because of their recent struggles on the field, have been able to bolster their system through trades and high draft picks the last few seasons. They boast three prospects in Baseball America's top 100, led by 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick Casey Mize (No. 7 overall) and including right-hander Matt Manning (24) and outfielder Riley Greene (56), who the Tigers selected No. 5 overall in June.

Their system was ranked 30th in 2015 by Baseball America, but has made a slow and steady climb, up to No. 15 before the start of this season.

"Between Casey Mize, Matt Manning and the rise of Tarik Skubal," Baseball America writes, "the Tigers have the arms to make up for the fall of Kyle Funkhouser and the continual injury issues of Franklin Perez."

Mize, a right-hander who is working his way back from shoulder inflammation, is a combined 8-0 with a 1.62 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in 16 starts this season, while Manning (7-4, 2.82) is second to teammate Alex Faedo in strikeouts (115 to 112) in Double-A's Eastern League and made an appearance in the MLB Futures Game over the All-Star break.

The lefty Skubal has dominated in his three starts since joining Mize, Faedo and Manning in Erie, with 34 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched, and a 0.56 ERA and WHIP.

Perez, the centerpiece for the Tigers when they traded Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros in 2017, has landed on the injured list three times this season — the latest because of a shoulder injury. Funkhouser, another right-hander, recently was demoted to Erie and amassing a 9.00 ERA in 12 appearances for Triple-A Toledo, where opponents hit .321 against him.

The Tigers figure to strengthen their farm system in the coming days, with left-handed ace Matthew Boyd, outfielder Nick Castellanos and closer Shane Greene all on the trading block.