Know your enemy: An MLB scout breaks down the Tigers

Know your enemy: An MLB scout breaks down the Tigers
October 11, 2013, 6:30 pm
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The Red Sox only played seven games against the Detroit Tigers this season, and four of those came in the first half of the season. To refresh your memory on their personnel, we talked to a major league scout who saw a lot of the Tigers this year and got his breakdown of their lineup, rotation, bench and bullpen.

CF AUSTIN JACKSON

Tough defender . . . above-average arm . . . makes it look easy in CF . . . routes are solid, regardless of where ball takes him . . . athletic . . . a little too streaky at the plate . . . gets outside of himself when it comes to understanding strike zone . . . pressing in postseason . . . very easily exploited offensively . . . not making adjustments deep in counts . . . would be a concern for Tigers in ALCS.

RF TORII HUNTER

Exceptional teammate . . . at 37, still an extremely solid defender . . . reacts well, still has plenty of arm strength . . . not easy to pitch to . . . can leave park pole-to-pole . . . good breaking ball hitter . . . will chase up in zone . . . with two strikes, has trouble handling hard breaking balls away . . . perfect in No. 2 hole . . . pitcher should start him with breaking balls . . . often sits first-pitch fastball.

1B PRINCE FIELDER

One of game's more prolific power hitters . . . provides protection for Cabrera . . . better athlete than given credit for, and a better defender, too . . . worked hard to get better at first . . . pitchers must go in, off the plate to where he can't hurt you . . . not as adept going other way . . . much more comfortable to pull side . . . can be handled up and hard . . . will chase up in the zone, but pitch has to be thrown where he can't go . . . still quick enough to get pitches up . . . .will see a lot of breaking balls . . . .use fastballs to get ahead of him.

3B MIGUEL CABRERA

Wasn't sure about him at third, but healthy, he's close to average . . . more than enough arm strength at third . . . .can throw with accuracy from different angles . . .  great feel for hitting . . . power from pole-to-pole . . . extremely strong . . . limited at the plate with lower core injury . . . power not there without legs, but still dangerous . . . how to pitch him? who knows . . . his vision, ability to pick the ball up on way to plate has got to be better than anyone well . . . susceptible to hard slider away from right-handers, down and away.

DH VICTOR MARTINEZ

May be the hottest hitter in the lineup . . . teams are more prone to make him hit right-handed, since he's better from left side . . . good fastball hitter, even though not great bat speed . . . good hand-eye coordindation allows him to hit velocity . . . makes good adjustments in-and-out . . . .reacts, doesn't guess a whole lot . . . looks fastball early, so pitch him backward -- start with changeup, especially LH . . . has tendency to roll that pitch over . . . don't give anything hard up in count . . . exceptional mistake hitter.

LF JHONNY PERALTA

Steady defender with below-average range . . . knows what pitch is coming, anticipates well . . . what he gets to, he fields . . . very surehanded . . . good internal clock, understands what he has to put on a throw . . . makes all plays he needs to make . . . huge shot in arm earlier when Martinez slumping . . . benefits from hitting in lineup, with bangers in front . . . good mistake hitter . . . doesn't have exceptional bat speed, but adjusts well to off-speed.

2B OMAR INFANTE

Very good fastball hitter . . . aggressive early in count . . . good two-strike hitter . . . .likely to try to pull early in the count . . . uses whole field . . . will see soft stuff . . . good mistake hitter . . . if ahead, don't throw him a fastball . . . solid second baseman . . . understands strike . . . anticipates well, makes up for limited range . . . good pre-pitch positioning . . . makes solid adjustments . . . steady, fundamentally sound . . . .great clubhouse guy.

C ALEX AVILA

Hasn't had great year offensively, but much better in the second half . . . has made adjustments . . . pitchers love throwing to him . . . very well prepared in setting up game plan . . . can calm guys down in trouble . . . defensively, more than adequate . . . arm accurate, with a quick release, but arm strength has dipped . . . must count on pitchers to hold runners . . . was swinging outside zone earlier, but more selective in second half . . . still good fastball hitter . . . has some trouble with breaking balls . . . has cut swing down, was longer earlier.

SS JOSE IGLESIAS

A chance to be one of the best at his position . . . explosive first step quickness . . . more than enough arm to make plays from hole . . . can come in well on balls . . . accurate arm from different angles . . . needs to stay within himself at plate and not overswing . . . doubles power to the gap . . . you hope he makes enough contact . . . think has a chance to be .280 hitter.

OF DON KELLY

Leyland favorite . . . can play both corners in OF and IF . . . average defender . . . excellent aptitude . . . won't make mistakes . . . limited at plate, but big and strong enough to leave park . . . can chase . . . trouble with quality breaking ball.

OF ANDY DIRKS

Grinder . . . plus runner, dangerous pinch-runner . . . enough arm, solid-average . . . solid defender . . . struggles against LHP . . . good fastball hitter . . . doesn't make adjustments well.

C BRAYAN PENA

Bad body type . . . doesn't lack confidence . . . not intimidated . . . good pop . . . quick release, but below-average strength . . . slow out of crouch . . . can be exploited on running game . . . good fastball hitter . . . will hit mistake bb, but not big threat.

RHP ANIBAL SANCHEZ

When breaking ball is on, really tough . . . command can be off . . . fastball 90-95 mph, but carries velocity well . . . not a big guy, but strong . . . some deception to delivery . . . athletic enough to maintain stuff deep into games . . . .four-pitch guy, all above average with plus slider . . . no set pattern . . . can throw any pitch for stirke one . . . doesn't make lot of mistakes, but will hang occasional breaking ball.

RHP MAX SCHERZER

Unbelievable this year . . . so much life on fastball, could get away with just that because of movement . . . .lot of sink to get grounders . . . also has plus-plus changeup . . . slider not true knockout pitch, but plays better because of other two pitches . . . when keeps ball down in zone, exceptionally tough to lift . . . when he has trouble, he gets out of delivery . . . you'll see him miss east-west, not up and down . . . so much late action that hitters commit to pitches down and out of zone . . . when he elevates, stuff flattens out.

RHP JUSTIN VERLANDER

Has pitched much better lately . . . throwing downhill . . . arm slot stays consistently 3/4 and stays on top, helps eveything in arsenal . . . when he's off, pitches from behind . . . erratic in and out of zone . . . much closer recently to old self because he's creating the proper angle . . . curveball command can be off . . . sometimes leaves changeup up to arm side.

RHP DOUG FISTER

All about command for him . . . can throw any pitch for stirke one . . . lot of life on fastball..when curve is on, that's his out pitch . . . good feel for changeup . . . runs and sinks fastball . . . won't get away with mistakes at 87-88 mph . . . when he gets in trouble, it's from falling behind . . . tries to take advantage of sink on fastball and changeup . . . .breaking ball effective to both sides . . . has quick jump move to first, controls running game well.

RHP JOAQUIN BENOIT

Most consistent bullpen guy . . . three plus pitches . . . fastball is 93-95 mph . . . slider has depth and bite . . . changeup is good complement to fastball . . . not afraid to use for strike 1 . . . can have trouble up in zone . . . sometimes has command issues . . . has put away slider to RH hitters . . . thrives under pressure.

RHP JOSE VERAS

Makes a lot of quality pitches . . . at 89-92 mph, won't overpower . . . relies  on movement . . . better than usable curve . . . pretty good change, can be plus . . . throws strikes . . .  won't get behind . . . goes after hitters.

LHP DREW SMILY

Three legit pitch . . . knows how to pitch . . . on a roll . . . will end up starter . . . sits 90-91 mph, can get up to 93 mph . . . works both side of plate . . . enough funkiness to delivery that adds deception . . . very good cut fastball, especially to lefties . . . throws lot of strikes, never rattled.