The Detroit Tigers hope two coach’s can get catcher Jake Rogers better results at bat

Embed from Getty Images What is the old saying? Two is better than one, that is exactly what the Detroit Tigers are hoping in the case of catcher Jake Rogers. Tigers hitting coach Joe Vavra and renowned hitting instructor Doug Latta are trying to get the top catching prospect in all of baseball to hit better.

Jake Rogers, behind the plate, behind the catching gear is the best rated defensive catcher in the minor leagues. The only thing that is keeping him from full-time catching duties with the Detroit Tigers is Rogers does not hit that well.

Jake Rogers sought the help of Doug Latta who has helped a who’s who of college, minor and major league baseball players and has had good results. So off to Ball Yard Hitting Academy in Northridge, California Rogers went this past offseason.

Meanwhile, Tigers hitting coach Joe Vavra kept in contact with Rogers and Latta. No ego’s got in the way. The focus was getting a top prospect to perform a well rounded game.

After hitting sessions Doug Latta would send video to Joe Vavra. The two coach’s would compare notes. The end goal is to greatly reduces the big leg kick and change the posture Jake Rogers used while taking at bats. The leg kicks lead to many foul balls as well as many strike outs. Too many for the Detroit Tigers liking.

With 51 strike outs in 128 plate appearances in 112 games played, last season Rogers worked many hours with then Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. Rogers sought out advice from veteran Tigers players as well. Even talking to Detroit baseball legends Al Kaline and Willie Horton.

One problem. Jake Rogers was hearing too many voices in his head. While Rogers did say he enjoyed talking to and getting advice from multiple people, it was simply too much.

Working with Doug Latta, Rogers has changed his posture at the plate. Gone are breaking his upper body over the plate which caused a lot of swing and miss at bats.

Now Jake Rogers has a plane swing that is much more level which will allow the young catcher to swing through the strike-zone longer. The Detroit Tigers front office and Rogers teammates got a first hand look at his new swing this past week as spring training opened.

Jake Rogers was sending baseballs over the fence into the bullpen behind Joker Merchant Stadium in Lakeland Florida, long time spring training home of the Detroit Tigers.

As for Rogers he is focused on what is ahead and does not look back at last season. Time will tell. But it looks like the work of the two coach’s and Jake Rogers just may net positive results.

Healthy going into spring training Detroit Tigers pitcher Franklin Perez is focused

Embed from Getty Images In the pitching cages, once top pitching prospect Franklin Perez fired fastballs to his catcher. Perez held back smiles as he met with a few of the Detroit Tigers beat writers. “I feel fantastic, This is one of the best moments for us as pitchers, focusing on improving our pitches instead of rehabilitating and getting back to business. It feels great to be back here.” Perez stated.

Franklin Perez was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros. Two and a half years have passed since Perez was the headline prospect the club of the big trade.

Perez has pitched just 27 innings in the Tigers’ organization, all out of Lakeland in either the Class A Advanced Florida State League or the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. That is because of injuries.

A right lat strain in Spring Training 2018 delayed Franklin’s debut in the Tigers’ organization. Later in 2018 Perez was shelved for the season with right shoulder inflammation.

Franklin Perez did not have surgery, he went with just a cortisone injection. What Perez did have was time to heal. The young pitcher worked in Lakeland with the Detroit Tigers athletic training and medical staffs. Aside from the rehab, Perez worked on nutrition, finding a diet to help with better healing.

If Franklin Perez has indeed moved past the injuries, and can pick up where he left off, the Detroit Tigers pitching prospects are even stronger, if you can believe that. All indications are Perez is ready for a rebound season.

It will be worth watching where the Tigers choose to place him after cam starts. No matter where that is Perez likely will not be there long. He is too talented.

 

As spring training opens the Detroit Tigers say it is time to win

Embed from Getty Images It has been a brutal four years. The Detroit Tigers entered a full-blow rebuild. Gone were players from the glory days and the bloated payroll that accompanied them. The 2020 Detroit Tigers now take aim with a much improved minor league system to begin the crawl to respectability.

Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila, said last week the Tigers are getting away from tearing down, and the time has come to acquire some players.

The Detroit Tigers teardown took essentially three years. The build up will take roughly as long. With several of the organizations top prospects expected to start the season at Triple-A Toledo, with the Mud Hens.

Those prospects who the Tigers believe will be the heart of their next championship level team namely, starting pitchers Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal and Alex Faedo along with third baseman Isaac Paredes, Al Avila said  “At some point during the season we can bring them up so they can get some experience. Then we can go into the (2021) spring training and it’s a whole different ballgame.”

All signs point towards after the 2020 season, the Tigers will dip into the free agent pools again. With Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann’s  $50 million contract coming off the books, as well as $20 million to other clubs as compensation as part of the Justin Verlander (Houston Astros) and Prince Fielder (Texas Rangers) trades.

Detroit Tigers owner Christopher Ilitch has been taking stock of the team’s rebuilding process and has stated when the time is right the team will spend again.

The Detroit Tigers rebuild expects to gain another large piece when the team picks first in the 2020 MLB draft. Unlike 2006 when the Tigers pulled out of a rebuild, the team promises this time to hold onto young players and not trade them for veterans. In hopes to prolong winning.

At any rate, the 2020 Detroit Tigers season will be another long season. However, it will be good for the organization as top prospects get called up for a look. As the rebuild finally has a light at the end of a very long dark tunnel.

The Detroit Tigers need Christin Stewart to hit in 2020

Embed from Getty Images There is no other plan for Detroit Tigers outfielder Christin Stewart. Miguel Cabrera under contract for the next four seasons, it seems highly likely that designated hitter will be occupied for the foreseeable future buy the long time Tigers first baseman. in 2020, Christin Stewart must hit like the Tigers believe he can.

Christin Stewart hit very well in minor leagues. Heading into last season the Tigers felt Stewart’s defense would be his biggest drawback, never dreaming it would be his hitting.

Christin Stewart had a completely forgettable rookie season with the Detroit Tigers, which really fit in with the theme of 2019 Tigers team. At 26 years old, Stewart is young and has a track record of hitting in the minors. 2020 will be a big year for Stewart as well at the Tigers who need more bats in the farm system.

In 2019, Stewart  had 416 plate appearances that was only worth 80 wRC+, and his OBP and SLG plummeted to .305 and .388. Though Christin had occasional flashes of power he hit 10 home runs his .154 ISO was not nearly the routine .200+ ISO he posted in every full season in the minors. In other words his numbers were bad.

Chrstin Stewart needs the 2020 season to be his breakout year. The Tigers minor leagues are not overflowing with other options at the moment. Stewart needs to prove he is capable of being part of the Detroit Tigers build-up part of the rebuild, now that the team finished it’s tear-down part of the rebuild.

It is just one thing the Detroit Tigers coach’s, front office and fans will be watching this season.

Detroit Tigers PA Jay Allen loses his battle with cancer

Embed from Getty Images Life can be cruel at times. Take Jay Allen, who spent many years as a mainstay on the microphone at the Grand Rapids Michigan area sporting events. Allen was well respected and worked hard. In March of 2019 Jay Allen landed his dream job working for the Detroit Tigers.

Jay Allen previously worked in Grand Rapids as a disc jockey as well as the PA announcer for the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Tigers Single A affiliate. Allen also called the races at the Berlin Raceway in the mid 1990’s for area radio, too.

Jay Allen was offered the job as the PA announcer at Comerica Park during Detroit Tigers baseball games.  Allen wrote on his Facebook page last April 5, after debuting on Opening Day. “Yesterday was one of the most fulfilling days of my life, to be able to do something that I truly love to do, at a facility like Comerica Park can not be put into words.”

As I said life can be cruel at times. Jay Allen’s first season with the Detroit Tigers, would be his final season as well. In August of last year Jay Allen was diagnosed with stage 4 bile duct cancer.

A man who family members say had a lot of faith in God, would undergo  intense treatments. Friday, January 24, Jay Allen lost his battle with cancer. The Detroit Tigers posted the announcement on the teams official site:

The Detroit Tigers are deeply saddened to learn that the club’s public address announcer, Jay Allen, passed away this morning. Everyone admired Jay’s faith, determination and positive mindset during his fight with cancer. His vocal passion for the Tigers and sports across the state of Michigan endeared him to millions of fans, and his impact will never be forgotten. The Tigers extend their condolences to Jay’s family and friends at this trying time.”

Jay Allen, leaves this world at just 60 years old. He will be missed.

Is Matt Manning the Detroit Tigers top prospect?

Embed from Getty Images Casey Mize? Matt Manning? Exactly who is the Detroit Tigers top prospect? The two pitchers are both dynamic and will play a HUGE role in the Tigers future. It is almost silly to pick between the two, yet that is what we are going to look at.

Casey Mize has hellacious stuff. Mize has a four-pitch offering. Fastball, slider, change up and a wicked split-finger-fastball. Every pitch Mize throws is capable of missing bats.

FanGraph’s just released it’s list of Detroit Tigers top prospects. The site lists Matt Manning as the organizations top prospect heading into the 2020 season. Manning tops the list seems to indicate  his development rather than Mize’s shortcomings. Manning has, in FanGraphs’ words, “become the dream.”

Matt Manning has an athletic frame with a fastball that tops out at 98 mph. Both Manning’s fastball and curveball received plus grades, and his developing changeup also received praise. “Manning is tracking like an All-Star starter and a potential top-of-the-rotation arm,” the FanGraph scouts concluded.

The good news for the pitching rich Detroit Tigers system is it boasts of two top line starters. One just edging the other one out of the top spot. Both Casey Mize and Matt Manning are expected to be in Detroit at some point this season.

MLB Pipeline released their top pitching prospects, the Detroit Tigers are well represented

Embed from Getty Images With the teardown part of the rebuild complete, the Detroit Tigers now wait for the young crop of players to begin filtering into Comerica Park as early as this upcoming season. That next wave of Tiger players will be lead by pitchers.

MLB Pipeline released it’s yearly list of top prospects at each position. The site also breaks pitchers down to right handed and left handed pitchers, both starters and relief pitchers.

The Detroit Tigers had names littered all over the list. Which gives promise to the future, a future that could be closer than fans think. Al Avila said not long ago the team is now focused on adding players.

Detroit Tigers right handed pitching prospect Casey Mize leads the list of the 10 best right handed starting pitchers. While another Detroit pitching prospect checks in the No.7, Matt Manning.

Detroit Tigers left handed pitching prospect Tarik Skubal is ranked No.4. MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis said “Few pitchers can match Casey Mize’s combination of stuff and command, which is why the Tigers made him the first overall pick in the 2018 draft.”

Scouts say they have never seen a pitcher command a split-finger fastball like Mize. One top MLB scout said of Mize and the pitch “It is one of the most devastating pitches in baseball.”

Tarik Skubal is considered the “highest riser” in the group of left handed pitchers. Tommy John surgery cost Skubal two year of college baseball, the Detroit Tigers took a chance in the ninth round of the 2018 draft.

The Detroit Tigers absolutely nailed the Skubal pick. In fact they are getting near unbelievable value for the draft spot. The Detroit Tigers are is great position pitching wise as the team also has ranked relief pitchers according to MLB Pipeline.

The Detroit Tigers organization is in a good position going forward. Great pitching prospects a few good bat, not too mention the team has the first overall pick in June’s draft and will look to add another big bat.

The Detroit Tigers are entering the next phase of the rebuild stage

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila Monday night gave his his mission for the offseason, essentially saying the teardown is complete. It was a roster deconstruction that lasted three years. Speaking at the MLB winter meetings Avila revealed what fans have been asking for and Detroit media wondered about.

“The mindset here is to move forward and build back up,”  Avila said in front of the media, after he had finished the first day of activity at the Winter Meetings. “We’ve made a lot of trades. We’ve traded everyone we needed to trade and we’re at the point where this team is very young and we need to build it back up.”

Al Avila said he and his staff are looking to add a veteran catcher, first baseman, corner outfielder, starting pitcher and possibly a middle infielder before spring training begins in February. One difference, they will be looking for middle tier players and not bottom feeders to fill out the roster.

Avila continued, “The biggest concern when you bring in veteran free agents is taking away time from your prospects,”But the situation here now is we can add free agents as needed and maybe create competition for young guys.”

The Detroit Tigers are looking to make the team better for 2020. The Tigers have top prospects knocking at the major league door. There is a decent chance Tigers top pitching prospects Casey Mize, Matt Manning and 3B/SS Isaac Paredes could all end up in Motown next summer at some point, as the trio’s development is ahead of others in the Detroit minor league system.

While it will be another long summer at Comerica Park, the light at the end of the rebuild tunnel is in sight. After the 2020 MLB season the Tigers will have over $150 million come off the books, from years of making championship runs.

In my opinion that is when Detroit will begin in earnest to go after big name free agents. Coupled with the fact the Tigers other prized prospects will be ready for The Show.

Assuming Detroit’s prospects and free agent signings are not complete busts, 2022 is the year that Detroit will likely start looking somewhat competitive again.

The Detroit Tigers have been awarded an additional draft pick

Embed from Getty Images Major League Baseball has awarded what they call the competitive balance draft picks since 2012. That is the good news. The bad news, the extra draft pick goes to the worst team in baseball. That team last season was the rebuilding Detroit Tigers.

The Detroit Tigers received an early Christmas gift this week, landing the 69th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. The draft slot is sandwiched between the end of the second round and beginning of the third round. This is the first time Detroit has been awarded the competitive balance pick in the organizations history.

In the 2020 MLB Draft in which the Detroit Tigers hold the No. 1 overall pick  they will also receive an additional pick in competitive as a means of speeding up the teams rebuild.

By receiving a competitive balance pick it includes a built in bonus of receiving extra international bonus pool money, The Tigers, picking in round B, will get a minimum of $5.75 million, as opposed to the normal $4.75 million.

Coming off of their worst year since 2003, the Tigers have been in a downhill slide since 2015. Fans want to know when the team will be competitive again. It is probably safe to say 2020 will not be a whole lot better for the Motor City Kitties.

All will not be lost however. 2020 could be the year that Detroit sees top prospects like Casey MizeMatt Manning, and Isaac Paredes at the major league level during the season.

After the 2020 season, the Detroit Tigers have a lot of old bad contracts coming off the books. That is when the team will begin to add players for the next title run.

It will not be until 2021, when all the organizations top prospects are in Detroit that the team will go after big name free agents. So, if Detroit’s prospects and free agent signings are not complete busts, 2022 is the year that Detroit will  start looking competitive again.

This season and next  look to be rough, but if everything goes well, these tough years could pay off in a big way. Starting in the 2020 MLB season it will be worth checking the progress of the top prospects as they take the next step in development.

 

The Detroit Tigers name Tom Price manager of the Toledo Mud Hens

Embed from Getty Images Doug Mientkiewicz, was fired October 31 after two season with the Mud Hens. Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila, cited discipline as the reason for the move without any elaboration. The Tigers made it clear they wanted someone who had experience in developing high-level talent . Enter Tom Price.

Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield, said  “It was clear from the beginning that Tom Prince fit that mold perfectly, and we’re thrilled to have him lead our staff in Toledo.”

Price spent the last three seasons as the Major League bench coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, after serving as the club’s Minor League Field Coordinator in 2016.

What attracted Tigers front office to Price is his blend of Major and Minor League coaching experience which is well respected throughout baseball. With the Detroit Tigers preparing to send many top prospects to Toledo, a strong leader was needed.

People across baseball have noticed the young core of talented players the Tigers have built over the last few years. Price’s job is getting players to  focus on playing fundamentally sound and winning baseball.

Last season, the Detroit Tigers hired former Pirates hitting coach Jeff Branson as the organization’s roving hitting instructor. Branson has received positive marks for his contributions in 2019. This is all setting up the porganization for post rebuild success.

Upon learning he was getting the Mud Hens manager job. Tom Price said, “This is a tremendously exciting time to be in the Detroit Tigers organization, especially playing a role in what’s grown to be a top-tier player development system.”

This is a very solid move for the Tigers to make. The Tigers are confident that Price’s leadership both in the clubhouse and on the field will be impactful and will prepare them to excel at the Major League level. Many around MLB applauded the move that can do nothing but prepare the team to lay the foundation of winning.