TigsTown Roundtable: MiLB Breakout Player

Is Westlake poised for a big 2012 season?

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: Which minor league player do you think is going to have a breakout season in 2012?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor

There are a number of outstanding candidates to have a breakout year this season down on the farm. However, every time I go up and down the list, one name keeps jumping out at me, and that is West Michigan shortstop Eugenio Suarez. The 20-year-old is a very smooth fielder and has held his own at the plate at every stop so far, despite being young for the league each time. Last year between the GCL and New York-Penn League, he hit .266 with surprising pop, totaling 30 extra base hits in just 248 at-bats. To me though, the most noteworthy takeaway on Suarez is that he's been so impressive over the last year, that the Tigers elected to make him the most-days shortstop in West Michigan this spring over last year's fifth round draft pick Brandon Loy, another strong fielder who was drafted with the hope that he'd move quickly. Suarez may not be getting the same hype of fellow Venezuelan shortstop Dixon Machado from certain Detroit media members, but at the end of this year, I could see Suarez being the one moving into the limelight.

Mark Anderson, Managing Editor

In an unusual turn of events, the Tigers didn't go heavy on pitching early in last year's draft, with Brian Flynn being their top pitcher selected in the seventh round. In his debut, Flynn posted a 7-2 record and 3.46 ERA in 13 starts with West Michigan. Despite those impressive numbers, scouts were still mixed on him after last season. That all changed this spring when he showed up to spring training with more consistent mechanics and was pumping 93-95 mph consistently from the left side. Coming out of a 6-foot-8 frame, Flynn is an imposing presence on the mound, and he now has the big-time stuff to back it up. With a promotion to Florida State League -- another pitcher-friendly league -- Flynn could post some serious numbers and start shooting up prospect lists.

Chris Vannini, Senior Staff Writer

Aaron Westlake was taken in the third round by the Tigers last year for his bat. As a senior at Vanderbilt University last season, Westlake hit .344 with 18 home runs with the new BBCOR bats in college baseball. But there was a bit of an adjustment to professional ball, as he hit .264 with a .377 slugging percentage and .705 OPS in 27 games with Connecticut. He's off to a great start in West Michigan this season. Through 10 games, Westlake is 14-for-40 (.350) with five doubles. He has a .475 slugging percentage and an .884 OPS while spending his time in the cleanup spot. His defense has been an issue in the past, limiting his upside. His bat is the biggest part of his game, and he's finding success at the plate early on and could be poised for a breakout year early in his career.

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