Tigers have talented group of prospects on deck

Tigers have talented group of prospects on deck

DETROIT -- The Tigers have gone through a lot of prospect depth to help trade for the veteran help they've acquired to win now. They still have some young talent left that might help them get there.

For all the downgrades on the Tigers system the last couple years, Detroit relied on a slew of call-ups last summer to help them survive a combination of injuries and pitching inconsistencies. Sixteen different players made their Major League debut in a Tigers uniform last year, the vast majority of them homegrown. More than half of them remain in the system, and a handful of them have a chance to compete for spots on the Opening Day roster.

It's not a youth movement by any stretch, but if the Tigers can fill some needs from within, especially for starting depth and bullpen help, it'll be a productive system for their purposes.

In advance of the beginning of Spring Training, MLB.com will examine all aspects of the team in the days leading up to the start of camp. Today we'll take a look at some of Detroit's top prospects you'll be able to see in camp this spring:

OF Tyler Collins: It's easy to forget that Collins made last year's Opening Day roster, probably because he was sent down a couple weeks later for lack of available playing time. The 24-year-old benefited from everyday at-bats and salvaged a decent season at Triple-A Toledo, putting him in position to compete once again. If Detroit breaks camp with five outfielders, there's a decent chance the versatile, multi-faceted Collins will be the fifth.

C James McCann: Widely seen as Detroit's catcher of the future, McCann parlayed a strong season at Triple-A Toledo into a September call-up. He started just twice, but his effort catching Justin Verlander on Sept. 19 at Kansas City made an impression on coaches, not to mention his two hits and two runs scored. He's a standout defender who can handle a pitching staff, and can hold his own with the bat as well. He'll compete with Bryan Holaday to back up Alex Avila, and he could play his way into semi-regular playing time.

McCann's first big league hit

IF Hernan Perez: Remember when Perez was a shortstop option after Jose Iglesias was lost for the season in Spring Training? In the end, his biggest contribution to the Tigers' season happened in the dugout, spotting that Kansas City's Salvador Perez didn't return to third base as required on a play that would have scored the tying run. The soon-to-be 24-year-old has a chance to do a lot more this season, competing with Andrew Romine for the backup shortstop job or potentially succeeding Don Kelly as Detroit's superutility player. He's out of minor-league options, so he'd have to clear waivers to return to Toledo.

OF Steven Moya: A year ago, Moya made headlines in Spring Training with tape-measure power and a sweet swing. He had no chance to make the big club, but he carried the momentum to Double-A Erie and slugged his way to Eastern League MVP honors with 35 home runs and 105 RBIs in 133 games. Moya's 23-to-161 walk-to-strikeout ratio likely portends more development at Toledo this year, but his impact left-handed bat will grab attention again this spring, particularly if Victor Martinez or Miguel Cabrera have a slower-than-expected recovery.

Top Prospects: Moya, DET

LHP Kyle Lobstein: Hard to find the 25-year-old Lobstein in the prospect rankings, but his results in a late-season stint in Detroit's rotation put him into consideration in 2015, either as an insurance starter or a lefty reliever. Left-handed hitters batted just 10-for-46 (.217) against Lobstein with one home run and 11 strikeouts over a half-dozen starts and one long relief appearance, and he looked calm in the heat of the division race.

SP Buck Farmer: Another option as an insurance starter, Farmer had just two starts above low Class A West Michigan when the Tigers called upon him for a spot start in August. He held his own against the Pirates, then made another start before spending September in the bullpen. Farmer has enough stuff to compete in the big leagues, and another starting injury could put him back under consideration. Ideally, however, the Tigers would like him to get more seasoning.

Farmer debuts with five frames

LHP Kyle Ryan: Another fill-in starter down the stretch, Ryan won his Major League debut with six scoreless innings against the White Sox Aug. 30. He made just as big of an impression on manager Brad Ausmus out of the bullpen in September, when he made a couple situational lefty appearances. If the 23-year-old competes for a spot in camp, it would likely be in that type of role.

LHP Joe Mantiply: Few people outside of West Michigan -- or Tigers player development circles -- heard of the funky-chucking southpaw until he held his own against advanced hitters in the Arizona Fall League. Now Mantiply has a non-roster invite to big-league camp, where he'll get a long look from coaches and evaluators trying to figure out how quickly he could rise up the system. He turns 24 on March 1, and while he doesn't throw hard, his delivery deceives hitters.

1B Aaron Westlake: A .236 batting average, .689 OPS and 120 strikeouts over 419 Double-A at-bats doesn't usually lead to a Spring Training spotlight. With Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez recovering from surgeries, however, Westlake is in line for a lot of at-bats early in camp, giving the 26-year-old a chance to show the bat that earned him a third-round selection out of Vanderbilt in the 2011 Draft.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.