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Detroit Tigers Top 10 Fantasy Prospects

The Tigers were sellers at the trade deadline for the first time in years, and saw their farm system enriched as a result. Who are their top 10 fantasy prospects?

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With the playoffs in full swing, that means it will be time for teams to assess their needs for next season and start planning for a longer than hoped offseason. We're at the same point for fantasy owners in dynasty leagues, and we're here to help you with the information you need as you prepare for your minor league drafts.

In previous years, we have done rather intensive top 10 prospect lists, including an organizational rundown, opportunities in the coming season, as well as the top fantasy prospects. However, we have found that a number of these topics are covered as we continue through the offseason, and specifically through profiles done as a part of our preseason redraft rankings. As a result, this year's top 10 lists will be primarily that: a list of the prospects with brief writeups rather than the 4000-8000 word opuses that have occurred in the past. We feel that this year's format will both suit the goal better (of providing fantasy relevant information and rankings) as well as allow us to move through them much more quickly so that they can be completed by the Christmas holiday.

The schedule itself is fairly basic: We cover a division, going in alphabetical order of city/location name. This means the next team after this post will be the Royals, and finish the division with the Twins. After that, we'll move on to the AL West. Once we've finished one league, we start over on the East Coast in the National League and do the same.

Our Basis

With fantasy prospect rankings, the key to knowing the usefulness of a specific player is how large and deep of a league you would need to be in for them to end up as a fantasy starter. We will be ranking 10 prospects in each system, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is useful if you play in a 12-team mixed dynasty league. With that said, we're aiming to provide useful information whether you play in a 10-team mixed, a 15-team AL-only, or a 24-team mixed.

Prospect rankings also come with the same caveat I provide every year. They represent a snapshot of how we view the players at the time of publication. There will inherently be more information published throughout the offseason, and so it is very possible that by the end of the offseason, how we view a player may be very different from where we had them originally.  We're going to get some of these right, we're going to get some of these wrong, and in general my reminder is to find information you trust, and use it to your advantage. If that comes from us, that's great and we're happy you're here. If it doesn't, we'll continue to work and hope that you'll keep checking in to see how we're doing.

The Tiers

Something new I wanted to introduce this year is a tier system to help delineate where prospects are likely to fall on the overall top prospect list. We have not completed our top prospects lists yet, and will not likely do so until we are close to finishing all the prospect rankings. The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing between different teams. It's by no means a perfect system, but the goal is to give you a general idea of which players we think are in a similar range in terms of value and ranking. Since the tiers are also expected to be relatively consistent across teams, there may be tiers which do not have prospects for certain teams.

Tier 1 - The Elite Prospects

These prospects are expected to be in the top 25-50 prospects overall, and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.

The Detroit Tigers do not have any prospects in this tier.

Tier 2 - The Top 100 Candidates

These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall, and are expected to be starting options in all formats.

#1 - Michael Fulmer (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 24
ETA: 2016

Acquired from the Mets in the Yoenis Cespedes trade, Fulmer is our top prospect following the graduation of Daniel Norris. Fulmer spent the year with both organizations' AA affiliates primarily, throwing 117 innings between the two and striking out 116 against 30 walks. He was healthy for a full season for the first time in his professional career, allowing him to increase his innings total by almost 30. Fulmer is a relatively safe starting pitching prospect who can be a #3/#4 fantasy starting pitcher, providing solid strikeout totals along with good ratios. Fulmer should head to AAA next season, and could be in line for a call-up by the end of the 2016 season.

Tier 3 - The Next Group of Starters

These prospects would likely slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list, and would be starters in mid-depth formats like 12 and 14 team leagues.

#2 - Beau Burrows (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 19
ETA: 2019

Burrows was the top draft pick of the Tigers this past season, and had a very nice campaign in the Gulf Coast League this year. The reports on Burrows point to a pitcher who can potentially be a high-end fantasy starter who has three potentially above-average offerings. There are some concerns about whether he will be able to handle a 200+ inning workload in time, but there's enough upside here to warrant a fairly high ranking as a high school draftee. It is not out of the realm of possibility for Burrows to turn into a top 30 fantasy starter if it all comes together.

#3 - Derek Hill (OF)
Age on Opening Day: 20
ETA: 2019

Hill was the Tigers' top draft pick a year ago out of a California high school, spending the season in the Midwest League. He appeared in only 53 games despite starting the season there, as he had multiple stints on the disabled list, including the one that ended his season in early July. Hill is going to get every opportunity to get to the majors between his pedigree and the potential for him to be an above-average defender in center field. With that said, Hill is going to provide a lot of his fantasy value with his legs, potentially providing 30+ steals with some power and a decent batting average. He may return to West Michigan in 2016.

#4 - Steven Moya (OF)
Age on Opening Day: 24
ETA: 2016

Moya has appeared in each of the past two Septembers with the Tigers, and after spending most of 2015 with AAA Toledo, could be in line for a shot at an opening day roster spot. Moya's carrying tool is his power, which is capable of providing 25-30+ home runs a year, but its' use in game is limited by his contact issues. The strikeout rate (30% last year) isn't offset by a high walk total or stolen bases, but is one of the few hitters in the Tigers' system that can turn into a middle-of-the-order producer if he does figure it out.

Tier 4 - Single League and Deep Format Plays

These prospects would likely slot into the 200-300 range on a ranking list, and would have the most value to mixed leagues with 16+ teams and single-league formats with 12+ teams.

#5 - JaCoby Jones (SS)
Age on Opening Day: 23
ETA: 2017

Jones was acquired from the Pirates at the trade deadline in exchange for Joakim Soria, and finished up the year with the Tigers' AA affiliate. Jones is an extremely toolsy prospect, with both above-average speed and above-average power. It's his approach at the plate (strikeout rates above 26%), along with a lack of clarity on his future position (some reports point to 3B, others to a utility role) that knocks him down to tier 4. The potential is still there for a 15-20 HR/20+ SB infielder with regular playing time, but it will come with a low batting average.

#6 - Christin Stewart (OF)
Age on Opening Day: 22
ETA: 2017

Stewart was the second of the Tigers' two first round picks this year, and spent most of his time with West Michigan after signing. He hit well there, posting a .286/.375/.492 line with 7 home runs in 51 games. A lot of his draft value was tied to his bat, as he is expected to provide both a good batting average and solid power. He's likely limited on defense, which doesn't necessarily hurt his value for fantasy owners, but puts more pressure on his bat for the Tigers. He could move up to High-A in 2016, and he seems like a prospect that will move quickly through the minors.

#7 - Spencer Turnbull (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 23
ETA: 2018

Turnbull spent the season with West Michigan, making 22 starts and posting a 3.01 ERA, 106 strikeouts, 52 walks, and 106 hits allowed in 113 innings. Turnbull has an above-average fastball which can top out in the high 90s, and pairs it with a solid slider and a changeup that needs improvement to keep him in the rotation. The potential is a back-end starting pitcher with a small chance of more some years, but if that changeup doesn't turn out, he's more likely to end up a late-inning reliever.

#8 - Luis Cessa (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 23
ETA: 2016

Cessa pitched well at AA Binghamton in 2015, striking out 61 in 77 innings with a 2.56 ERA. The Mets promoted him to AAA for five starts before being the second prospect in the Yoenis Cespedes trade, and finished up with seven more starts for AAA Toledo. Cessa doesn't have the same upside as some of the other pitchers ahead of him, fitting more toward the back end of a major league rotation. He's already reached AAA though, and while he struggled there, could be in line for a shot at starting in 2016.

#9 - Kevin Ziomek (LHP)
Age on Opening Day: 24
ETA: 2018

Ziomek spent the season at High-A Lakeland, where he posted improved numbers (154 IP, 143 K, 34 BB) over the previous year. The scouting reports on Ziomek don't exactly make anyone drool, but Ziomek should turn into a back-end starting pitcher who provides solid numbers in AL-only leagues.

Tier 5 - We Ranked Ten Prospects, We Really Did

These prospects generally will be useful in the deepest of formats. Think 24+ teams for mixed leagues and single-league formats with more teams than the league it uses. In many cases, these will be part-time players or utility-types when they get to the majors.

#10 - Austin Kubitza (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 24
ETA: 2017

Kubitza spent the year at AA Erie, and while the numbers don't tell a great story (5.79 ERA, 96 K, 48 BB in 133 IP), it's worth noting that Kubitza has consistently gotten 60+% groundballs each of the last two years, and the profile fits more of a back-end innings eater type that you need at the end of a rotation in a deep league.