DETROIT -- The Tigers still have work to do to restock their farm system, something they're trying to do even as they focus on winning now. Their deadline deals last July, at least, netted them a prospect on the latest MLB.com Top 100 list.
Michael Fulmer, the key prospect in the return package the Tigers garnered from the Mets for Yoenis Cespedes, ranks 52nd on the list, released on Friday. He's the only Tigers prospect on the list.
Fulmer ranked 98th on last year's midseason list, before the Mets dealt him to Detroit along with Luis Cessa just before the July 31 Trade Deadline. While Cespedes flourished in New York down the stretch, helping the Mets to a postseason berth and an eventual run to the World Series, Fulmer continued his dominance of the Double-A Eastern League, giving the Tigers their most highly-touted pitching prospect since Jacob Turner in 2011-12.
• MLB Pipeline's 2016 Top 100 Prospects list
Fulmer went 10-3 with a 2.24 ERA between Binghamton and Erie, earning Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors and re-establishing his prospect standing following two injury-shortened seasons.
"I was just happy that I made all my starts. That was the biggest goal of mine," Fulmer told MiLB.com's Robert Emrich. "I give all credit to all the rehab guys and the pitching coordinators and the whole staff for giving me routines and tips for how to stay healthy. That was my biggest thing going in. I'm just happy it came through."
Fulmer, who turns 23 in March, will be in Major League camp for the first time this Spring Training, and he will get a chance to compete for a spot on Detroit's pitching staff. While fellow youngster Daniel Norris is expected to have the advantage on the fifth spot in the Tigers rotation, having made an impression down the stretch in Detroit, Fulmer will get a look -- not only as a starter, but possibly in relief. Both general manager Al Avila and manager Brad Ausmus have mentioned him as a potential bullpen candidate.
Fulmer took over the top spot in MLB.com's Tigers prospect rankings at season's end from slugging outfielder Steven Moya, who had made last year's MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list. He fell off the rankings after an up-and-down 2015 season at Triple-A Toledo.
The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2016 season are eligible for the list. The rankings follow the guidelines laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules: Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.