Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila, reveals his thoughts on two top prospects

There is no two ways around it. Detroit Tigers prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson are going to be imbedded in the middle of the Tigers lineup for years to come. Recently Tigers General Manager Al Avila, has spoken where he intends the two to continue developing. One is a surprise move and one is about where many figured he would play the 2021 season.

Riley Greene, he of a very sweet lefthanded swing appears to be headed to Double-A Erie to play with the Seawolves. Given the fact that the 2020 minor league season was wiped out due to COVID-19, this is an extraordinary move. Greene who was part of the Detroit Tigers taxi squad last season, had a heck of a season/extended training camp.

Greene is just 20 years old and has really climbed the minor leagues faster than anyone in the Tigers front office projected him to. He is a very good gap hitter which will lend itself well in the spacious Comerica Park outfield. Greene also has above average power and is very good defensively.

DETROIT, MI – JULY 04: Major League Baseballs number one draft pick Spencer Torkelson #73 of the Detroit Tigers looks on during the Detroit Tigers Summer Workouts at Comerica Park on July 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

As for Spencer Torkelson, he will start the 2021 season in Grand Rapids with the High-A  West Michigan Whitecaps. Torkelson has not played any minor league games as of yet. But he has all the tools to have a good showing in Grand Rapids.

Torkelson is projected to move quickly through the Detroit minor league system. While Riley Greene, has surpassed him as of this moment, there is good reason to believe they both could arrive in Detroit with the Tigers at some point in 2022.

The two prospects are expected and project as middle of the lineup hitters. Both do not chase balls out of the strike zone, both players are gap hitter with power. It should be noted gap hitters who hit to all fields.

DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 11: Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Al Avila on the field prior to the start of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park on August 11, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Kansas City defeated Detroit 10-2. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Riley Green and Spencer Torkelson, are part of a future of Tigers baseball team that should be fun to watch.

Baseball America unveils the Detroit Tigers top 10 prospects

Founded in 1981, Baseball America covers the game at every level. The popular publication which is released bi-weekly focuses on high school, college, Japan and minor league prospects. Baseball America is a go-to resource for MLB scouts, general managers and players themselves. The publication just released their list of top 10 Detroit Tigers prospects. Some names fans know and some new names have made the list.

The newest edition of Baseball America has a player all Detroit Tigers know well, top prospect Spencer Torkelson on the cover

The young Tigers corner infielder has unseated Casey Mize as the organizations top prospect. This after a 2020 season in which Mize made his major league debut.

While Mize is still on the list of top 10 Detroit Tigers prospects he has been passed by fellow starting pitcher Tarik Skubal. Skubal also reached the major leagues in 2020 and flashed some promising outings to give the Tigers and the fan base a look at the bright future for the left handed pitcher.

DETROIT, MI – JULY 18: Isaac Paredes #19 of the Detroit Tigers looks on during the Detroit Tigers Summer Workouts at Comerica Park on July 18, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

It should be noted the Tigers did have three prospects drop out of the top 10.  Shortstop Willi Castro, catcher Jake Rogers and pitcher Franklin Perez. The three players who exited the list opened the door for new faces.

The Detroit Tigers top 10 prospects now reads as such:

1. 1B/3B Spencer Torkelson (n/a)

2. LHP Tarik Skubal (3rd)

3. RHP Casey Mize (1st)

4. RHP Matt Manning (2nd)

5. OF Riley Greene (4th)

6. 3B Isaac Paredes (5th)

7. C Dillon Dingler (n/a)

8. OF Daz Cameron (7th)

9. OF Daniel Cabrera (n/a/)

10. RHP Alex Faedo (6th)

DETROIT, MI – JULY 06: Dillon Dingler #79 of the Detroit Tigers looks on while waiting to bat during the Detroit Tigers Summer Workouts at Comerica Park on July 6, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The draft saw the Tigers organization bring in hitters. Not just hitters but big time hitters as well as fill positional needs within the organization. Now armed with a top five minor league system and having the No. 3 overall pick in next summer’s draft, the Detroit Tigers future is looking much brighter.

Detroit Tigers top prospect Spencer Torkelson is as advertised

Breaking a long standing record at Arizona State that was held by Barry Bonds, put Spencer Torkelson on the map. Drafted this past year No.1 overall by the Detroit Tigers, Torkelson headed to summer camp and was and is working on transitioning from first base to third. Now as part of a group of players at the Tigers instructional league, Torkelson is proving his worth.

This fall at instructional league play for the Detroit Tigers, Spencer Torkelson is batting third in the lineup, fellow Tigers first round draft pick Riley Greene is batting in front of him. Tigers fans should get use to that rather nasty 1-2 punch.

It is easy for young prospects to get lost as they try to advance through the minor leagues. Spencer Torkelson has had a well rounded, mature adjustment to professional baseball. “Torkelson is as advertised,” vice president of player development Dave Littlefield said. “He works the count well. He’s got power. He can hit. We’re trying him out at third base. He’s an athletic guy, great makeup, ballplayer.”

On Monday during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Torkelson stepped to the plate and flashed exactly what Littlefield described. Hitting a 375 foot home run, after which  Torkelson said he did not get all of it.

DETROIT, MI – JULY 11: Riley Greene #31 of the Detroit Tigers looks on during the Detroit Tigers Summer Workouts at Comerica Park on July 11, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson have bonded. They have become fast friends. That is important because they project as future All-Stars. They also project to be part of a formidable part of the Tigers batter order for years to come.

Both Torkelson and Greene are described as being very humble, level headed players who love playing the game and want to get better every day. This is the fun part of watching and tracking prospects. To see players growth is encouraging, more so because two of the Tigers organization’s top prospects are on track.

The Detroit Tigers believe Franklin Perez still has a future role

Franklin Perez was one of the crown jewels of the 2017 trade that sent longtime Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros. Injuries derailed Perez’s development. The young pitcher threw just 27 innings due to injuries. Now healthy, the Tigers believe Franklin Perez has a future spot in the teams starting rotation.

At just 22 years old it is way to early to give up on Franklin Perez. When he arrived as part of the Verlander package, Perez was a top 10 prospect in the Detroit Tigers minor league system. Injuries and time missed saw Perez fall in the rankings and land at No. 14.

Perez’s pitch’s suggest he can be a solid three or four pitcher in  the Tigers rotation. If it were another team he could be a number two starter. The Tigers with excellent pitching prospects which includes Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning may actually see Perez at four.

When healthy, Franklin Perez is very talented. The young right handed pitcher,   showed a lot of potential in summer camp, but his fastball was stuck in the low 90s and his command was off at times. There were still moments where Perez gave reminders of just how good he can be.

Once Perez can clean up his wildness and consistently throw the ball around the plate he should arrive in Detroit. The future of the Tigers starting rotation already looks solid. Throw a healthy, confident Franklin Perez into the mix and the Detroit pitching staff of the future looks downright scary.

DETROIT – MAY 4: Exterior of Comerica Park is pictured before the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox on May 4, 2005 in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Sox defeated the Tigers 4-3. (Photo by Rich Pilling /MLB via Getty Images)

It is not out of the question all four of the Detroit Tigers top pitching prospects arrive at Comerica Park next season. However that shakes out. The Tigers are just about ready to remake the 2020 worst pitching staff in MLB and replace it with young talented pitchers eager to prove themselves.

When this happens fans will be able to finally see a light at the end of the long rebuild.

The Detroit Tigers instructional league set to open

The Detroit Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield, is in Lakeland Florida preparing for an onslaught of Tigers prospects to begin offseason development. This after there was no minor league baseball played due to COVID-19.

Detroit Tigers top prospects Spencer Torkelson , Riley Greene  and Parker Meadows all where chosen to participate in Toledo as part of the Tigers shuttle during the 2020 MLB regular season. Those top prospects will be in Lakeland as will 16 of the organizations top 30 prospects.

Some players are training for the first time since spring training. “They are shaking the rust off, there’s no doubt about it, Guys are in different levels of shape. It’s going to take a little time to get some of the timing back for the hitters, even the conditioning that’s necessary to play defense, or to be ready to throw off a mound,” Littlefield said during a ZOOM call.

DETROIT, MI – JULY 11: Riley Greene #31 of the Detroit Tigers bats during the Detroit Tigers Summer Workouts at Comerica Park on July 11, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

It is a needed activity for all prospects. To further development and to get back to baseball. It is safe to say because on the lengthy layoff players will be brought along slowly at the start.

For the prospects it is also a way to bond and create some chemistry as they had into fall ball or the offseason depending on each players developmental needs. Something that is needed in sports. Good chemistry leads to a better culture which in a perfect world leads to winning down the line.

It will be worth monitoring for fans and media. The Detroit Tigers have a top 10 prospect pool, those players are looking to take the next step in hopes of finding their way to the major leagues soon. For a city who’s sports teams are either just bad (Detroit Lions) or rebuilding Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, prospects, drafts and free agents are about the only enjoyment until the teams are set to win again.

 

Could former fan favorite Don Kelly be in line for the Detroit Tigers managers job

Detroit sports fan like their sports stars gritty to match the blue-collar feel of the Motor City. After all the fans insisted the city take down a mural of Detroit Red Wings Steve Yzerman because his face was touched up. Down it came and up went a mural showing all of Yzerman’s facial scars. Fans were happy. Former Tigers player Don Kelly was that sort of player and could be a solid hire for the Tigers.

Don Kelly played 544 games for the Tigers from 2009-14 mostly as a utility player. Kelly is not known for his heroic moments, yet is beloved by Tigers fans to this day. In the four years since Kelly’s playing days ended. The 40 year old has skyrocketed up the coaching ranks, currently serving as the bench coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With Ron Gardenhire’s sudden retirement from the Tigers managers job Don Kelly “baby!” could be a solid choice to take over. Kelly started his post baseball career as a scout for the Detroit Tigers in 2017. A year later he was the first base coach for the Houston Astros. Now as mentioned a bench coach for the Pirates.

That is three big promotions in just four years. What makes Kelly valuable is his insight into multiple facets of the game, from a scout to a bench coach. Kelly knows many of the young players within the organization, as well as  understands analytics and can evaluate talent.

While Don Kelly only lacks manager experience his overall resume is solid and on par for a job opening. One more thing that I believe should be noted is that Kelly during his playing career  played every position on the baseball field. So he knows what he’s talking about.

LAKELAND, FL – MARCH 17: Don Kelly #62 of the Detroit Tigers bats against the Houston Astros during the spring training game at Joker Marchant Stadium March 17, 2009 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)

At just 40 years old Kelly is able to relate to younger players. He could be perfect to lead the Detroit Tigers out of the rebuild and back into contention. Also worth noting the Tigers general manager Al Avila said that he intends to interview former and currently suspended Astros manager A.J. Hinch for the managers spot. Could he bring Don Kelly to Detroit to be his bench coach?

That could set Kelly up nicely for when he does get a managers shot.

Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila says he will consider two currently suspended manger for the vacant Tigers manager position

Sports is a business of second chances, and sometimes more. The Detroit Tigers are in the market for a new manager with the retirement of Ron Gardenhire. Tigers general manager Al Avila said he is willing to consider two manager who are both suspended because of cheating scandals. From a national standpoint this could seem dicey. From an industry that is more forgiving it should be no surprise.

Alex Cora, who was fired as manager of the Boston Red Sox for his part in a cheating scandal that netted the Red Sox a World Series Championship  is being considered by Avila and the Tigers front office. It was Cora who was also in Houston and spearheaded the Astros cheating scandal when they won the 2017 World Series.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 28: Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox sits in the dugout prior to Game Five of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

A.J. Hinch who was the manager of the Houston Astros, has accepted his part in the cheating scandal that rocked Major League Baseball. Hinch was also fired by the Astros. Hinch said he understands he was the leader and remained silent as the cheating was going on.

Al Avila also said that he has a long list of names he will consider. Something of note, A.J. Hinch’s suspension ends when the World Series is over in late October. Al Avila said he will not open interviews until, you got it late October.

Another point of interest in A.J. Hinch is that he is widely respected inside baseball circles. Yes, he absolutely should have spoken up and come clean about the goings on with the Astros. But, Hinch’s work with a then rebuilding Astros team beginning in 2015 lead them to a championship.

The Detroit Tigers of today nearly mirror the 2015 Houston Astros. A.J. Hinch has said if he had to do it all again he would have put an end to the cheating. He did not making him a rather interesting figure in the Detroit Tigers managerial search.

Other names Al Avila is said to be pondering are  Lloyd McClendon, former Marlins and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, Kansas City Royals third base coach Vance Wilson, Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Don Kelly,K.C.  Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol, former Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond, New York Mets bench coach Hensley Meulens and Chicago White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing.

Of those managers only Hinch has lead a rebuilding team out of a rebuild into the World Series. Tigers fans, if A.J. Hinch is named manger from that standpoint he would be a very good hire. From an integrity standpoint I believe it would be a good hire as again Hinch has accepted responsibility for what went down in Houston.

Thoughts.

The Detroit Tigers will pick No. 3 in the 2021 MLB draft

No the Detroit Tigers were not the worst team in MLB this season. They were not good by a far stretch. No- No.1 pick in next year draft instead the Tigers will pick No.3 overall. The organization which is pitching heavy should look to add more bats. They are in good position to do so.

It is not the end of the world and does not hurt the Detroit Tigers ongoing rebuild to pick No.3. There are plenty of good prospects to choose from. In my opinion like this past Junes MLB draft the Tigers need to add more hitters.

This past June Tigers general manger Al Avila did a very good job of adding some much needed bats into the organization’s prospect pool. Spencer Torkelson, Dillon Dingler, Daniel Cabrera, Trei Cruz,  Gage Workman, Colt Keith made for an impressive draft class. Some of the 2020 draft class project as future All-Stars.

In order to push the rebuild along faster Avila must have another draft much like he did in 2020. The Detroit Tigers organization is void of any real answer at short stop. Also if Torkelson is going to play 3B as the Tigers say, then the team needs a clear cut first baseman.

Why is it important to stock pile hitters? Two reasons, first it creates competition with prospects. May the best man win if you will. Second, hitters who simply do not have a roster spot due to a solid MLB roster can be used a trade chips to fill needs.

While the draft is not until next June, it is difficult at this moment to try to figure out just who the Tigers will take at No.3. I do believe they will be picking more hitters than pitchers.

The Tigers are close to begin to win games and start to climb out of the bottom of the division. A few more bats will speed that up. That should be the main goal and focus of the Tigers front office.

The Detroit Tigers Christin Stewart may be running out of time

Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum, certainly Detroit Tigers outfielder Christin Stewart can smell Riley Greene, Parker Meadows and Daniel Cabrera coming for his job. He has to know the Tigers minor leagues have some solid outfield prospects. Yet for all the hype from spring training to summer camp to the 60 game regular season Christin Stewart did not deliver.

Christin Stewart was advertised as a hitter. A masher, if you will. Stewart hit home runs and a lot of them in college and the minor leagues. For a player who was taken in the first round in the 2015 MLB draft, Stewart has struggled in Detroit.

In 60 games this season, Stewart’s stats are as followed: GP-36, AB-90, R-6, H-15, 2b-3, T-0, HR-3, RBI-9, BB-5, SO-30, AVG- .167. It does not take a baseball fan to understand these are not good numbers. Throw in the fact Christin Stewart was a first round draft pick and it looks like he is on the verge of being a bust.

As mentioned before Riley Greene, Parker Meadows and Daniel Cabrera are young proven outfield hitters in the Tigers system. One two or most likely all three will be roaming the Tigers outfield when the dust settles on the organization’s rebuild.

Christin Stewart who does not have and adequate arm or speed is in a difficult spot. His limitations in the outfield would be better masked and he could move to designated hitter (DH) if he could show he could hit.

Unfortunately, Stewart is not hitting either. Many baseball experts expect Riley Greene and Danial Cabrera to be in Detroit at some point during the 2021 season. Both have speed and above average arms. Both are solid contact hitters and both project as future All-Stars.

Stewart by all accounts could be a part of the Detroit Tigers future if he can begin to hit. But time is quickly running out. It is fair to say  Christin Stewart’s career is at the cross roads.

An updated look at the state of the Detroit Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons and Lions rebuild’s

All four Detroit Michigan sports teams are under construction. Rebuilds across the board. It has not been a fun time for the sports enthusiasts around the state of Michigan and the rest of the country. Yet here we are, it is time to update the four major sports teams rebuild efforts to date.

Let’s take a look at the worst and possibly longest rebuild in sports, or close to it. The Detroit Lions. Bob Quinn was brought in from the New England Patriots and there was hype when he arrived in Motown. The hype is gone, fans have soured and the Lions are a total mess. Losers of 11 games in a row with no end in sight. The Lions should fire Quinn and all associated with him and start from scratch.

The Detroit Pistons, In better shape than the Lions (who is not?) The Pistons have young talent to build around. Bruce Brown, Sekou Doumbouya, Luke Kennard, Christian Wood give the Pistons some nice players to build around. The Detroit Pistons are armed with some cap space for the first time in a long time so that will help speed the process up a bit.

The Detroit Tigers, the Tigers also have some nice young talent to build around. Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Isaac Paredes, Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene are a few of the names Tiger fans should know or begin to learn. The Tigers still have work to do on the rebuild, however they are in good shape moving forward.

The Detroit Red Wings, general manager Steve Yzerman is still building his team. Like the Tigers the Red Wings have some nice prospects to build around. With the No. 4 pick in the first round Yzerman is poised to bring in another high-end prospect, not to mention Yzerman also has cap space. Cap space is a good thing it is even better when a GM with a proven history of spending wisely is in charge.

So there it is in a nutshell. The Lions are a mess as usual, the Pistons, Tigers and Red Wings are advancing rather nicely in the rebuilding of the respected organization.

I am sticking with my initial thought that the Detroit Red Wings finish their rebuild first.