The Detroit Motorheads have the 15th ranked minor league system in baseball, and nowhere does it show more than the thin list at their top levels of viable prospects.
Their top three levels, from AAA down to A, have struggled to win, and also struggled to produce high-talent homegrown players for the major-level.
Earl Shnairson seems to be the OSA’s take on their best-rated AA-level prospect, an unassuming 22-year-old groundball pitcher, with two excellent low in the zone pitches – a cutter and a curve. A former Milk League pitcher of the year (2015), Shnairson shines alone in the talent pool as a player close to making it in the big league. And when he does, it will likely be as a middle reliever at first, perhaps providing spot starts when needed, which will help but not enough.
The system’s top guy is 27th ranked Dave Tripp, an 18-year-old righty reliever who, once he develops a bit further, projects to be a top of the rotation starter some day. Drafted out of high school, where he played in 2017 for Niagara Academy Fighters, Tripp was hard to beat, with a 2.68 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, that gave him a 4-0 record on 9 starts. His 68 K’s in 53.2 innings gave a pace of 11.4 K/9.
But Tripp’s focus may not be there, and scouts say he’s constantly looking over the fence to check out the grass on the other side. The Canuck from Abbotsford, BC, who was the third overall pick in the June draft last year, will start 2018 at rookie-level Miami Motorheads. Will he last the season in the organization?
Detroit has thus far been content to trade for their top players, and that may extend to their prospects. Tripp’s value could bring in another starter to join former NY ace William Febres, or former Calgary rotation feature Matthew Rendall, both key pieces acquired this off-season.
One thing is for sure, the minor league system won’t improve until their rookies move up through the pipeline and develop further.