Detroit Tigers Double-A pitching is electric

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Tigers promising pitchers at Double-A are turning heads. The organizations top pitching prospects are for the most part at Double-A in Erie PA, pitching for the Seawolves. The players have bonded together and have built something potentially special in Erie.

While they have their individual paths to Detroit as part of the Tigers’ rebuilding plan, it is what is taking place in Erie that could very well be the spring board to a brighter tomorrow in Detroit.

To find an Erie team this stocked with prospects, one might have to go back to 2001. Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize and  Alex Faedo, say they all learn from each other because of past experiences. Going through hitters they will face. The pitchers lean on each other to find out what worked or did not work in an at-bat early in a game, or even the game the day before.

Manning, Mize and Faedo all three pitchers were Detroit Tigers first round draft picks. Then mix in Skubal a ninth-round pick last year whose dominant first full pro season landed him in Erie in early July. A move few saw coming at the start of the season,  and half of MLB Pipeline’s top 10 Tigers prospects are in Erie PA, though Mize and Faedo are currently inactive. Mize, Manning and Skubal reside on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list.

Tarik Skubal has struck out 78 batters in just 39 2/3 innings since being called up to the Double-A SeaWolves. Matt Manning leads the league with 148 strikeouts in 133 2/3 innings and Faedo ranks third with 130 in 112 1/3 innings. They rank first and fifth in WHIP ratio. That is good to say the least.

This is the future Detroit Tigers rotation. The juggernaut team whose success is inspiring hope in the Tigers for the years ahead. Most if not all of these pitching prospects will make up the rotation  next year at Triple-A Toledo, just an hour’s drive away from Detroit.

Yet the pitchers understand and have embraced Double-A as they begin to prepare for the playoffs.

Detroit Tigers top pick Riley Greene compaired to Ken Griffey Jr.

Embed from Getty Images He is just 18 years old. Yet, one of the Detroit Tigers most prized prospects is being compared to a Hall of Fame player. Starting his professional baseball career at the instructional Connecticut Tigers, Riley Greene lasted just 24 games. Because he was simply too good for the league.

Riley Greene has been promoted to Grand Rapids to the West Michigan Whitecaps. In his first game with the Whitecaps, Greene doubled, had an inside-the-park home run and 3 R.B.I.’s. He was not done. As of Saturday Greene is hitting .306

Coming out of high school scouts reported Greene did not have the speed to play center field. Yet the same night he debuted Riley Greene chased down a hit in the gap, splayed out for an amazing diving catch.

Scouts have changed their tune. Riley Greene is the total package. One scout said “It has been a small sample size, but the polish to his game is more than I expected.” Greene’s play and speed has pushed another Detroit Tigers top prospect (Parker Meadows) to right field.

One long time MLB general manager said “Riley Greene is a generational player. You can see the skill set and it compares to Ken Griffey Jr. Same smooth swing, makes consistent contact with the ball and can run down anything in the out field.”

It is one thing for fans of a team to compare players, it is another thing all together when a long time well respected general manager makes the comparison.

It is still early in the process, but the Detroit Tigers appear to have the next face-of-the-franchise player. Before the Tigers 2019 first round draft pick ever played a game, he was tabbed to arrive in Detroit in 2023. Given his current trajectory Tiger and baseball fans will not have to wait that long. I think 2021 is a more realistic time frame.

Detroit Tigers are willing to trade pitching for hitters

Embed from Getty Images This week the MLB trade deadline came and went. The Detroit Tigers made a pair of trades that saw the organization add three pitchers and one outfielder. Fans were upset, in the pitching talented Tigers minor leagues it did not seem more pitchers should be added. Detroit general manager Al Avila has a plan.

The Detroit Tigers minor league pitching is currently ranked #1 overall. The team has identified the eight to ten pitchers they will not trade no matter the offer. Detroit Tigers general manager said “we are now willing to trade pitching for bats.”

The list of names the Tigers will not trade appear to be: Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Franklin Perez, Alex Faedo, Beau Burrows, Bryan Garcia and Kyle Funkhouser. The other pitchers are already in high demand. Avila is already said to be fielding calls.

The Tigers do have some really nice position players in the minors. Still more big bats are needed.With a future outfield of Parker Meadows, Daz Cameron and Riley Greene the outfield is in good shape. The Tigers could use another outfielder with projectable offensive tools.

While the future infield could use a couple projectable bats. Short stop Isaac Paredes and catcher Jake Rogers (called up this week) have legit power that is about it. So the infield needs offensive players to balance the batting lineup.

With Joey Wentz, Paul Richan and Alex Lange coming to Detroit through trades it gives Al Avila even more leverage to make trades and get bats. If reports are correct and the team is already getting calls things could begin to speed the rebuild up more.

Every baseball team understand you can not have enough pitching in your system. The Tigers have plenty, what is more than that they have an abundance of quality pitching which will do nothing but keep the phones ringing.

The Detroit Tigers are in a very good position. The long rebuild has some players who are helping to shine a light of what will be. MLB teams already acknowledge they understand what Detroit has on the way.

The Detroit Tigers are open for trades, they will soon have teams lining up.

Previously unranked Detroit Tigers prospect Tarik Skubal is turning heads

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Tigers drafted lefthander Tarik Skubal in the ninth round in 2018, Skubal has opened eyes as a pitcher with the potential to join top prospects Casey Mize and Matt Manning,  something no one saw coming.

Starting the season with the Lakeland Flying Tigers, Tarik Skubal put up some lofty numbers. Skubal was 4 wins 5 losses, but as I keep saying wins and losses do not matter for pitching prospects. The rest of Skubal’s numbers are crazy, In 15 games pitched the young prospect had 19 walks and 97 strikeouts.

Tarik Skubal was recently promoted to Double-A Erie. Pitching like he did not miss a beat. In 3 starts for the Seawolves, the southpaw has walked 4 while striking out 34. Turning the heads of scouts and general managers everywhere.

A ninth round draft pick, Skubal was drafted out of Seattle University.  The 22 year old Skubal had Tommy John surgery in 2016. In a minor league systems that has some great arms, one national scout said Tarik Skubal has the best arm in the Detroit Tigers system. High praise. Yet Skubal is backing the praise up.

Having cleaned up his fastball velocity Tarik now has consistency pitch in and pitch out, start after start. The Tigers were going to develop the left handed pitcher and use him out of the bullpen. Quality start after quality start has now shifted the Detroit Tigers into leaving Skubal in as a starter.

The question now is where does Tarik Skubal fit in the Tigers prospect rankings? While he is only 22 years old. Other Tigers prospects are more seasoned and are ranked appropriately. Given that, and his high ceiling factored by his walks to strikeouts, Skubal lands at #17.

As he moves forward in his development should he stay on his current trajectory, Tarik should end the season close to if not in the top 10 Tigers prospects.

A draft risk coming off of major surgery and an up and down senior year in high school. The Detroit Tigers have a left handed pitcher who looks like a draft pick steal, certainly the Tigers are getting tremendous value out of the pick.

One more reason Tigers fans should relax. It is going to be fun again soon at Comerica Park.

The Detroit Tigers developmental staff turned up a gem in Matt Manning

Embed from Getty Images In 2016 the Detroit Tigers took a big risk when they drafted pitcher Matt Manning. Manning was a basketball player and had other dreams. Yet the Tigers scouts saw something even though Manning had next to no clue what to do on the pitching mound.

His first season of organized baseball found Matt Manning struggling with control. When he found control opposing batters would hit the pitch offerings, hard. Manning freely admits “it was tough when I was younger.”

Time has moved on since that rough beginning. Manning is now a top two prospects for the Detroit Tigers. For the second season in a row Manning was invited to pitch in the Futures Game. A game that features the absolute best prospects in baseball.

Matt Manning now boasts a vastly improved control, a filthy change-up and has changed his mental approach. Also in the Tigers favor, Matt Manning is just 21 years old. He is the youngest member on Double-A Erie’s roster.

Manning’s progress is very encouraging for the Tigers developmental staff as a whole. Matt Manning is perhaps the most important piece of the Detroit rebuild. The team can literally flip a coin between Manning and Detroit Tigers top prospect Casey Mize as to who will be the staff ace after the rebuild in complete.

Armed with a plus fastball that touches 98 MPH, Manning started as a lump of clay for all intent and purpose. A basketball player that was turned into a pitcher. Only Hollywood could write such a story.

Now in only a couple short seasons, Manning has full arsenal. Knowing when to throw what pitch, holding runners on base. Manning has wowed his teammates at times. Top Tigers prospect Alex Faedo recalls a backdoor changeup that caught a batter looking. “I was like dang, I didn’t realize he had that pitch.”

Matt Manning has seen his confidence grow this season with every outing. In 16 starts with the Seawolves, Manning has a 2.77 ERA to go along with a Double A leading 106 strikeouts in 91 innings of work.

It should not be much longer before Matt Manning makes his way to Triple A Toledo. For as frustrating as the Detroit Tigers rebuild has been. Matt Manning shows why the future is bright.

 

The Detroit Tigers sign general manager Al Avila to an extension

Embed from Getty Images In perhaps the bottoming out season of a rebuild, and in a season in which wins have been mission impossible, the Detroit Tigers gave a new contract to general manager Al Avila. Needless to say reaction has been mixed around the Motor City.

Deep into a rebuilding hole in which there is no turning around, Al Avila signed a new deal. The deal is one that team president and CEO Christopher Ilitch had presented to him this spring.

Al Avila is currently in his fourth season as the main architect of Tigers baseball. When he took over in August of 2016, the Tigers were an old ball team with a very bad minor league farm system. The rebuild was well overdue.

Through trades and good drafting the Detroit Tigers now have a top 10 minor league, and in a relatively short amount of time. That is the good news. Avila has made some questionable choices in free agency. Some have hurt the team by being unable to flip those free agents for prospects because of poor performances.

“We are right in the middle of it,” Avila said of the Detroit rebuild. “It’s a tough time. You start it, you start moving along, there’s a fast pace to it and at the end, when really, quite frankly, you start seeing it come together and then you can see the light.”

The stockpile of prospects alone does not guarantee success. Yet, teams that are winning now after a prolonged rebuild understand the value of collecting young talent. If a team collects enough good talent, the odds are good they will find a few players to build around.

The real reason Christopher Ilitch gave an extension to the Tigers general manager is it would be pointless to switch in the middle of a rebuild. Avila should be able to see it through. Now he gets his chance.

Unhappy fans need to understand the Detroit Tigers underwent into a full-scale rebuild. This is what it looks like. Fans also need to understand the Tigers have amassed some very good prospects under Avila’s watch. Other top baseball executives have commented on what the Tigers have in their minor leagues. Some have even asked for a trade or two.

There has been enough progress made that it warranted the extension. Now armed with three players (Shane Greene, Matthew Boyd and Nicholas Castellanos) being made available for the trade deadline. Al Avila and the Detroit Tigers could get a very nice haul of prospects.

Meet Doug Mientkiewicz the man spearheading the Detroit Tigers rebuild

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Tigers rebuild is well known by now. The Tigers changed they’re philosophy to drafting and developing home grown players in order to win longer. A growing trend in Major League Baseball. This is where Toledo Mud Hens manager Doug Mientkiewicz comes into play.

Doug Mientkiewicz played 12 MLB seasons, including parts of seven seasons under Ron Gardenhire with the Minnesota  Twins. Gardenhire, is the current Detroit Tigers manager.

It is those same Minnesota Twins who are now winning. The funny thing in all of this is Doug Mientkiewicz, was in charge of the Twins rebuild. With almost all of the Detroit Tigers top prospects in the upper minor leagues, the second-year Toledo Mud Hens manager is embracing another opportunity to play a part in another rebuild.

“They’re (players) putting the weight of the world on their shoulders,” Mientkiewicz said. The Mud Hens boss understands it is his job to get the players to block out self-imposed pressure  and develop them into everyday MLB players.

As the Tigers rebuild presses on, Mientkiewicz, may be one of the most important people involved. With twelve of MLB.com’s top 30 Tigers prospects  such as Daz Cameron, Beau Burrows and Willi Castro are in Toledo, and more are on the way, with 10 in Double A Erie.

Doug Mientkiewicz, retired from playing in 2009. He would spend the 2012 season in the Los Angeles Dodgers system as the hitting coach with the Ogden Raptors. Mientkewicz then headed to the Twins minor league system in 2013, where he took helm of the Fort Myers Miracle for two years. He moved up to Double-A Chattanooga in 2015 before returning to Fort Myers in 2017. Compiling a 385-299 record in five seasons in the Twins organization, Mientkiewicz was let go as part of an organizational overhaul after that season. Yet, it is the Twins who freely admit they are where they are today because of the work Doug Mientkiewicz put in with top prospects.

Doug Mientkiewicz joined the Detroit Tigers organization last season. The team  liked him because of his baseball experience. Former players and current Twins all-star players gave Detroit a strong backing to Mientkiewicz.

Mientkiewicz felt great responsibility to develop what is now Minnesota Twins core players. He admits that he was very demanding and tough. “I wouldn’t let them breathe because I knew they were responsible for bringing respectful baseball back to that city,” Mientkiewicz said. “I always say, I don’t know if I’ll make you physically better, but I’ll make you mentally tougher, and that group was battle tested.”

The Detroit Tigers are looking for the same results from a manager that demands them. Doug Mientkiewicz is hope for a brighter tomorrow in Motown.

Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera moving to DH on the heals of “chronic changes” to his knee

Embed from Getty Images It was bound to happen sooner or later, right? Miguel Cabrera held off moving from first base to DH as long as he could.It seems time and the daily grind of playing everyday has caught up with the future Hall of Fame player.

The Detroit Tigers made the announcement last night before the Tigers took on the Tampa Bay Rays. Fans and media wondered how Cabrera would respond. Cabrera said he would not have surgery which would have ended his season yet again. “I’m done with surgery.” Cabrera said.

Fans and media got a first hand look at how Miguel would respond. Miggy went 3 for 4 on Tuesday with five RBI hitting as DH in the cleanup spot, one of his hits was a grand slam. By having  Cabrera in the DH spot on a regular basis will do good for him and the entire Detroit Tigers lineup.

This is good new for player and team. It gives hope that Cabrera will be able to fulfill the last few years of his contract, while still hitting at an elite level and helping the young Detroit prospects as they arrive from the minor leagues.

When a baseball player has a bad knee it is hard to get  drive when they hit. That means a lack of drive negates power.  “It’s sad,” he said. “Really sad. The last few days I was thinking about that. I mean, it’s sad because I like to be in the field ” Miguel Cabrera offered.

Miguel also said “But I’ve been battling this for the last three years. It’s something I’ve got to do.” Doctors told Cabrera that his knee has been deteriorating steadily the last five years.

From 2004 to 2106, Cabrera averaged 154 games a year. He played despite having a torn groin and broken foot in 2013 and 2014. The Detroit Tigers star also noted  that he played through an assortment of other minor injuries.

He offered advice to Detroit Tigers prospects from the lessons he has learned, “The only advice I can say to young kids, take care of your body and stay healthy,” he said. “When you have something, stop playing for a week and come back. Don’t play through pain, because you are going to pay the price later.”

Cabrera can still hit. Now perhaps he will have more drive in his swing with more time off his feet.

The Detroit Tigers select Nick Quintana in the second round of the 2019 MLB draft

Embed from Getty Images After selecting a High School player in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, The Detroit Tigers dipped back into the college ranks for they’re second round selection. Third baseman Nick Quintana, from the University of Arizona.

This was a very interesting pick for Al Avila and his scouting department. The pick was mixed for good reason. Nick Quintana can hit. 34 home runs in three seasons with the Wildcats, 17 doubles in each of those seasons while batting .346, forced his name up the draft board. That’s the good.

The bad, that’s easy. Nick Quintana struck out 20% of the time. That is too high for an advanced college bat. Also questions abound about Quintana’s ability to hit consistently with a wooden bat. in two seasons in the Cape Cod league Nick hit .230 and struck out 38% of the time in 69 games.

Nick Quintana, moved from shortstop to third base in college. He bulked up and moved to third base where his athleticism took off. with his glove and arm, Quintana grades as a 60 defender.

Detroit feels Quintana will hit. He will not hit .300 but .270-.280. He has pop in his bat and can drive in runs. He should fill out to be an above average player.

If he hits, Nick Quintana will be a middle of the batting order player. If not, Detroit will need to continue to look for third base help.

 

The Detroit Tigers select Riley Greene in the first round of the 2019 MLB draft

Embed from Getty Images In a minor league pipeline with the top rated pitching, the Detroit Tigers needed to add bats in this years MLB draft. Because this is the worst draft in 27 years for pitching the Tigers scouts got to work. They drafted Riley Greene, out of Hagerty (Florida) High School.

While drafting any player in any sport is a bit of a crap-shoot. There is high risk, high reward to picking players who are just fresh from completing High School. Yet, that is what the Detroit Tigers did last night.

Riley Greene, is a left-handed hitter. He has perhaps the most beautiful swing that I have seen from a lefty in a long time. Greene does not reach for pitches he has a firm grasp of the strike zone. Another great attribute Riley Green has, is he does not pull his head off the ball when swinging.

Detroit scouts believe Greene will fill out to 6′ 3″. Detroit has a long history of liking big (6′ 3″ and above) outfielders. Riley Greene is both athletic and versatile enough to be able to handle all three outfield positions. He grades as a 50 tools in the field. That is a fancy grade for Greene is above average in the field.

No we get to the hitting. Riley Greene was the best prep hitter in this years draft. But in the big picture. Greene was one of the top 4 hitters in the entire draft. Right now Riley grades at 60 contact and 60 power. Every baseball scout said when Greene is fully developed he will be 70 tools in both offensive categories. That is the max.

The one drawback is his lack of speed. Greene will not steal a lot of bases. With his bat it will not matter. He will hit above .300 and have 20+ homeruns.

The fact he was still on the board when Detroit picked made Tigers general manager Al Avila’s decision easy. The Detroit Tigers got the big bat that will balance their batting lineup post rebuild.