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Tracking Progress of Tigers' Prospects in Arizona Fall League

Josh BerenterCorrespondent IOctober 25, 2013

Tracking Progress of Tigers' Prospects in Arizona Fall League

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Arizona Fall League is comprised of six teams. Each team sends some of their top prospects to participate.

    The Tigers' 2013 Arizona Fall League participants, which were announced in August, play for the Mesa Solar Sox, along with prospects from the Angels, Athletics, Nationals and Cubs.

    The Solar Sox's most famous recent alumnus is Nationals phenom Bryce Harper, who's become one of the most polarizing and best young players in the major leagues.

    None of the Tigers' representatives have made their major league debut, but don't be surprised if you see a few of the following athletes playing at Comerica Park next season.

    Here is a look at the progress of the Tigers' prospects in the 2013 Arizona Fall League:

LF: Tyler Collins

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Tyler Collins isn't your prototypical power-hitting outfielder.

    The 5-foot-11 stocky prospect has good pop, blasting 20 home runs in 2013, and he has a certain knack for getting on base, but his .240 average in a full season in Double-A Erie doesn't look very good. 

    So far in the Arizona Fall League, Collins has lived up to his relatively low recent expectations, batting .242 with one home run and two RBI in nine games. He does have eight walks in 33 at-bats, leading to a .390 on-base percentage.

    Collins is only hitting .111 against left-handed pitching this Fall and will need to adjust his approach to be able to have success against professional hitters.

     

RHP: Corey Knebel

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    Photo Courtesy of MLive.com via the Associated Press
    Photo Courtesy of MLive.com via the Associated Press

    The Tigers 39th overall pick in last summer's supplementary draft performed well in the Midwest League, allowing two earned runs in 28 innings. However, it's extremely rare that someone from low-A ball attends the AFL, and Knebel is attending in the year that he was drafted. 

    The former Texas closer, who signed a $1,433,400 contract with the Tigers this past June, dominated Single-A hitting for West Michigan this season, boasting a 2-1 record and 0.87 ERA in 31 appearances.

    The 6-foot-3 right-handed hurler has good control, only walking 10 batters over 31 innings, and at times, he's got overpowering stuff, striking out 11.9 batters per nine innings.

    Knebel, only 21 years old, hasn't had much time to show his ability in the Arizona Fall League so far, only throwing four innings, earning a 2.25 ERA with five strikeouts and two walks.

     

2B: Devon Travis

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    Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

    Along with Corey Knebel, Devon Travis was granted access to play in the Arizona Fall League because of a special exemption, which is necessary to play in the league if you haven't competed in Double-A ball or higher.

    Travis has dominated minor league pitching throughout the year, putting up a .343 average with a .416 on-base percentage between Low-A and Elevated-A ball.

    The second baseman, who could turn out to be a five-tool player, is batting .233 with one home run, six RBI, nine runs scored and two stolen bases in eight games this season in the AFL.

    Travis, a 22-year-old prospect out of Florida State, has power to reach the gaps and has the ability to hit both right and left-handed pitching.

     

RHP: Tommy Collier

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    Photo Courtesy of MiLB.com
    Photo Courtesy of MiLB.com

    As the Tigers 22nd round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Tommy Collier has given Detroit an unexpected right-handed arm to look forward to.

    Collier went 13-1 with a 2.67 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 16 games at San Jacinto College (Texas) in 2011, prompting his MLB selection and was named West Michigan Pitcher of the Year in 2012, his first professional season.

    He struggled a bit last season, going 5-3 with a 4.43 ERA for Double-A Erie, but he's picked up where he left off from 2011 and 2012, marveling so far in his Arizona Fall League debut. 

    The 23-year-old has a 1.00 ERA in three games, including two starts. In his nine innings of work, Collier has nine strikeouts compared to only one walk and has an opponent average of .235.

     

     

LHP: Kenny Faulk

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Kenny Faulk is a big dude. And he throws like a big dude.

    After being selected by the Tigers in the 16th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Kennesaw State University, Faulk was named the No. 15 prospect going into the 2013 campaign by MLB.com.

    Tigers fans shouldn't get ahead of themselves, but Faulk has shown signs of potentially being a candidate for Tigers closer in the future.

    He finished second in the Eastern League for Double-A Erie with 10.61 strikeouts per nine innings in 2012 and finished fourth in the Florida State League with 20 saves in 2011, while tying the league lead with 48 appearances.

    The 235-pound lefty didn't fare so well last season with Triple-A Toledo, going 0-3 with a 3.65 ERA in 32 appearances, and unfortunately hasn't improved in the Arizona Fall League with a 13.50 in 3.1 innings over four appearances, giving up three hits and five earned runs.

LHP: Blaine Hardy

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    Photo Courtesy of the Toledo Blade
    Photo Courtesy of the Toledo BladeMatthew Stockman/Getty Images

    At the age of 26, left-handed pitcher Blaine Hardy is one of the grizzled veterans of the Arizona Fall League.

    And as one of the elder statesmen, Hardy is desperate to make his presence felt.

    Hardy was phenomenal in minor league ball this season, posting an 8-3 record with a 1.90 ERA, 79 strikeouts and 31 walks while splitting time between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. 

    Hardy began the year in the bullpen in Double-A but spent the majority of the season starting games for Triple-A Toledo.

    Hardy has been at the Triple-A level in each of the last four seasons, going back to his time in the Kansas City Royals organization, but for some reason or another, he hasn't managed to crack a major league roster.

    So far in the Arizona Fall League, Hardy has found himself back in a relief role, throwing six innings over four appearances, earning a 4.50 ERA

     

SS: Dixon Machado

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Dixon Machado was a relative unknown coming out of Venezuela when he was signed by the Tigers as a non-drafted free agent in 2008.

    But as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training the last three years, Machado has made his presence felt with the big club.

    In 27 at-bats over 22 games with the Tigers since 2011 in Spring Training, the 21-year-old hit .370 with four RBI and three extra-base hits.

    He didn't fare so well last season, however, with Elevated Single-A Lakeland, batting .215 with one home run and 12 RBI in 37 games.

    The lanky shortstop hasn't done very well so far in the Arizona Fall League either, batting just .190 with two RBI in 21 at-bats.

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