The Tigers returned to the World Series in October for the first time since 2006 largely because of the slugging of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, as well as one of the best rotations in the American League. They were a veteran team with few young players along for the ride.
But that doesn't mean their farm system wasn't a crucial part of their success. The Tigers used well-regarded prospects Jacob Turner and Rob Brantly to acquire right-hander Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, shoring up two weak spots on their team. It was a familiar strategy for the Tigers, who have not been afraid to deal top prospects in an effort to win.
One of the few young players to be a part of the Tigers' run to the World Series was right fielder Avisail Garcia, who is now their No. 3 prospect. Garcia said he was glad the team had enough confidence to play him in critical postseason moments and hopes he can continue to reward their trust with good results.
"I'm really happy with the confidence [manager] Jim Leyland and [general manager] Dave Dombrowski showed in me by putting me on the playoff and World Series roster," Garcia said. "I just have to keep working hard so they can keep that confidence in me. I hope to do my job and help the team win."
The recent trades have stripped some of Detroit's top talent out of its farm system and leaves only two prospects who made MLB.com's Top 100 -- outfielder Nick Castellanos and closer Bruce Rondon.
Garcia and Rondon are expected to win spots on the Major League roster during Spring Training, but Garcia said if he has to go back to the Minor Leagues, he will continue to work hard so he can get back to Detroit as fast as he can.
"The main thing is to keep working hard and not stop," Garcia said. "What happens, happens -- if I make the team, or if I don't make the team. Like everyone, every day you can learn something new in this game."
Top 20 prospects
The Tigers have stockpiled several outfield prospects, led by Castellanos. The converted third baseman is one of seven outfielders ranked in the Tigers' top 11.
Seven pitchers made the Top 20. Rondon might be the most familiar to Tigers fans, but left-hander Casey Crosby, who made his Major League debut last season, and right-hander Jake Thompson, the team's first selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, join him in the top 10.
Because of free-agent compensation, the Tigers haven't had a first-round pick in any of the last three Drafts. As a result, only seven players from their last three Drafts are ranked.
Under the radar
Right-hander Hudson Randall didn't wow scouts with stuff during his college career at Florida, but he simply got the job done. He anchored the Gators rotation for three years and helped them to three consecutive College World Series berths. The Tigers grabbed him in the seventh round of the 2012 Draft and hope he can continue his success in the professional ranks. Randall has excellent command of his three-pitch mix, but his upside is limited by a fastball that tops out at 90 mph.
Second baseman Harold Castro is still raw and needs to add muscle to his 6-foot, 145-pound frame, but he still ranked fifth in the Gulf Coast League with a .311 batting average in 2012. Castro, a native of Venezuela, makes good contact and uses the whole field to hit. As he physically matures, Castro will develop more power, but how much remains to be seen.
Hitter of the Year: Castellanos
Castellanos was the Tigers' top pick in the 2010 Draft. He has progressed quickly through the Minor Leagues. He reached Double-A Erie last summer when he was just 20 years old and played in the Futures Game. He was originally drafted as a third baseman, but with Cabrera manning the hot corner in Detroit, Castellanos has moved to the outfield so he can reach the Major Leagues faster. He sprays line drives to all fields and has solid power. If he stays in the outfield, he profiles as a right fielder.
Pitcher of the Year: Thompson
The Tigers surrendered their first-round pick in the 2012 Draft when they signed Fielder. When they got to pick in the second round, they selected Thompson, a Texas high school right-hander. He made his debut in the Gulf Coast League, where he held opposing hitters to a .149 batting average in seven starts. He has the look of a middle-of-the-rotation workhorse, and will get to show off his low-90s fastball-slider combination in his first full professional season.