January 28th, 2010
So as you might have seen on the site or on MLB Network last night, MLB.com came out with its preseason Top 50 prospect list. The Tigers came in with two kids on the list: Austin Jackson was the top Tiger at 38th, but first-round draft pick Jacob Turner isn’t far behind at 42.
Today, ESPN.com’s Keith Law came out with his top 100 prospects list. Jackson and Turner are on that list, too, but neither cracked the Top 50. Casey Crosby, however, did. He’s at 45, with Jackson at 70 and Turner at 80. Interestingly, Law is subdued on his projections for Jackson, whom he sees as a true center field with a league-average bat. Scott Sizemore barely missed the top 100, Law writes, and probably would’ve made the cut had his Arizona Fall League not ended early with a broken ankle. Law projects him as a “solid-average regular for several years.”
Not to be overlooked (thanks to Ed Price for pointing it out) is the prospects list from AOL Fanhouse, which has five (count ’em, five) Tigers in the Top 100. Jackson is 25th on that list by Frankie Piliere, who says Jackson has “grown by leaps and bounds since he was drafted.” The next-highest Tiger is Andy Oliver, who didn’t make the other two lists but hits 47th here. Another missing name from the other two rankings, Daniel Schlereth, is 78th, followed by Crosby at 82 and Turner at 90.
My point isn’t to argue that any one list is better than another; I just find the varying opinions fascinating. I’m entering my ninth year on this beat, and I can’t remember such varying national opinions on Tigers prospects. The one thing all these lists have in common is that they show progress in Detroit’s farm system. They’re drafting and developing more high-level talent rather than just one or two really good pitchers, and in the case of Jackson and Schlereth, they’re trading for them too.
You might remember a story I did last winter on Nate Robertson working out at Detroit Mercy under the watch of their strength and conditioning coordinator, Nick Wilson, who has some Tigers ties. Well, Robertson is helping give back to the school and to charity tonight, when he joins in the Cardio for a Cause fundraiser.
According to a release from the school, a series of 216 participants will pedal for 10 minutes each on a stationary bike, for a total of 36 hours of biking. UDM basketball coach Ray McCallum started it off Wednesday morning. Robertson will end it as the final biker, pedaling from 8:20 to 8:30 p.m. courtside at Calihan Hall while the Titans take on Loyola-Chicago. Robertson is expected to sign some autographs afterwards. Fans at the game can make donations.
Proceeds from the event go to four different causes: UDM’s strength and conditioning program, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, The V Foundation for Cancer Research (that’s the foundation in Jim Valvano’s memory) and the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.