Rule 5 draft pick Akil Baddoo is turning heads for the Detroit Tigers

He was left unprotected by the Minnesota Twins. As a Rule 5 draft pick the Detroit Tigers claimed Akil Baddoo. The 22 year old outfielder has started the 2021 MLB season with a bang. He is already quickly becoming a fan favorite at Comerica Park and to Tigers fans everywhere. In three games played Baddoo has energized the Tigers.

Akil Baddoo has done something in the modern age of baseball that has never been done. He hit a home run in his first at-bat, the next game he hit a grand slam, then a walk-off single. This is not supposed to happen to a player who was given up on.

BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 02: Akil Baddoo #60 of the Detroit Tigers rounds the bases on a two run rbi double from teammate Willi Castro #9 (not pictured) during the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a spring training game at LECOM Park on March 02, 2021 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Baddoo is a fast outfielder who also possesses quick hands which helps him to generate bat speed with power. However, the Twins organization was waiting for Baddoo to put it all together.

As stated the Twins left him unprotected and the Detroit Tigers scouting department  quickly did their homework and decided to take a shot. So far it is a shot that has hit the mark.

While Baddoo does struggle against left-handed pitching, two seasons ago (no minor league season last year due to COVID-19) Baddo had a strikeout rate of 24 percent, which is on the high end. So far both in spring training and now during the early stages of the season Baddoo has been more aggressive early in the count, which has lead to better success.

Akil Baddoo was the Minnesota Twins #10 ranked prospect. It is not often a team gives up on a top 10 prospect but that is what the Twins did. While time will tell if Baddoo can continue the pace he has started off on and live up to his scouting report, the Tigers and Baddoo are enjoying his early success.

DETROIT, MI – APRIL 4: Akil Baddoo #60 of the Detroit Tigers rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Cleveland Indians during the third inning at Comerica Park on April 4, 2021, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

For a rebuilding team, Akil Baddoo has made the Tigers fun to watch through five games played.

After three games it is clear, the Detroit Tigers starting pitching looks like the strength of the team

The Detroit Tigers won two of three games from the Cleveland Indians. Sure it was only three games, but there is reason for optimism. The Tigers got 16 innings from their starting pitching. In those 16 innings the Tigers starters gave up just three earned runs. At that clip, the Tigers will win a lot of series.

Three games does not make or break a season. It is however, a look at the trajectory the Detroit Tigers are on. Facing a talented Cleveland Indians lineup, Tiger pitchers got to work.

LAKELAND, FLORIDA – MARCH 12: Julio Teheran #50 of the Detroit Tigers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Yankees during a spring training game on March 12, 2021 at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Opening day Detroit pitcher Matthew Boyd got the start. Going 5.2 innings Boyd gave up 3 hits and had 2 strike outs. Boyd looked good as he threw all of his pitches and painted the corners. This is good news for Boyd who has endured two seasons of struggles.

Game 2 of the series saw the Detroit Tigers turn to Julio Teheran. Teheran went 5.0 innings giving up 4 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run with 3 strike outs. Not a bad start, again much like Matthew Boyd, Julio Teheran threw his pitches and hit the zone. He did a good job for the most part keeping Indian batters off-balance.

In Sunday’s loss, the Tigers turned to rookie left handed pitcher Tarik Skubal. Skubal is one of the Tigers organization top pitching prospects and a top 25 MLB prospect. Skubal had a strong outing. Going 5.1 innings, Skubal gave up 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs with 4 strike outs.

DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 29: Rookie pitcher Tarik Skubal #42 of the Detroit Tigers delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the third inning of game two of a doubleheader at Comerica Park on August 29, 2020, in Detroit, Michigan. Skubal recorded his first major league win in the Tigers 4-2 victory over the Twins. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. The day honoring Jackie Robinson, traditionally held on April 15, was rescheduled for August 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to Friday’s postponed game, Robinson will be honored during today’s game. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Tarik Skubal had a tough first inning and then reached back and showed how mentally tough he is. So often with young pitchers when they go through a tough inning things tend to unravel. After a tough first inning Skubal maintained his composure.

Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said he wants all pitchers to attack the strike zone. Three games played three starting pitchers followed through with what Hinch wants. This is a positive. Hinch is setting the expectations for all Detroit Tigers pitchers. No matter if the are in Detroit or the minor leagues.

This can do nothing but help the organization moving forward.

The Detroit Tigers do not have a closer, not yet anyways

Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch has not named a closer to start the 2021 season. In part because that vital role is still in the process of identifying the right pitcher. What does it mean for the Tigers moving forward? That question remains to be answered. What does it mean right now? Not much.

The Detroit Tigers opened the 2021 MLB season at home vs the Cleveland Indians. The Tigers beat the Indians 3-2. As the game moved into the latter innings, hard throwing Gregory Soto (left handed pitcher) entered the game. So Soto is the closer right? Wrong.

DETROIT, MI – APRIL 01: Manager A.J. Hinch #14 of the Detroit Tigers looks on during player introductions prior to the Opening Day game against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park on April 1, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Indians 3-2. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

It needs to be stated, manager A.J. Hinch who is a very analytically driven manager really does not care about saves. Hinch cares about wins. He has a very good feel for who should be in the game and when. In Thursday’s season’s opener Hinch called on Soto.

More to the point, A.J. Hinch does not believe that a closer needs to or should only face three batter. But rather whoever is called on should and better be able to get six to nine batters out. This is a new era of Detroit Tigers baseball. A much more modern game.

Although Hinch went with Gregory Soto in game one and has not named a closer, the Tigers manager does fully intend to name a closer at some point during the season. My personal takeaway is that Hinch is going to make the relief pitchers earn the position.

Because Hinch has a good feel and is analytically driven it is not outside the realm of possibility that Hinch goes with two closers. That is closer to where today’s MLB game is.

DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 27: A detailed view of the baseball hat and glove of Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers sitting in the dugout prior to the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Comerica Park on August 27, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The Angels defeated the Tigers 3-2. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

In fact, it should not surprise anyone if Hinch uses pitchers anywhere at any time. Meaning, Soto who closed game one could come in in the sixth inning game two. It all depends on the situation and where Hinch thinks a pitcher’s strength can best be utilized.

As the Tigers now have a more modern thinking manager and excellent pitching prospects it can do nothing but help the organization.

 

 

The Detroit Tigers rebuild presses onward, but 2021 offers some telling goals

In the last four seasons the Detroit Tigers are 198-345 with a .364 winning percentage. The Tigers have finished in last place three of the four seasons. The 2021 MLB season which kicks off today, finds the Tigers in no better position to escape the bottom or near bottom again. But it is not all bad. The Tigers hired A.J. Hinch to be manager and a team does not make a move like that unless they feel they are close to being competitive.

This season for the Detroit Tigers is all about results. Not wins and losses (sorry Tiger fans.) It is about getting young players to take the next step. Getting young pitchers Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal involved from the start are signs the Tigers are ready to take the next step.

LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 25: A.J. Hinch #14 of the Detroit Tigers poses during Photo Day at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on Thursday, February 25, 2021 at in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

In order for the Detroit Tigers to get results as well as begin to have success the pitching must be established. The Tigers have plenty of top pitching prospects, which is good and all, but those players must begin to established themselves in order for the team to feel comfortable about adding free agents at seasons end.

Winning brings credibility, that is so true. It is getting to the winning that can be tricky. That is where World Series winning manager A.J. Hinch comes into play. Since being named manager Hinch has been consistent is saying he and his coaching staff want and need to breed a winning culture.

Hinch has set the World Series as the goal. Even though the Tigers will not compete for a championship this season. The current roster simply is not playoff worthy. That is why Hinch was brought in for the long term.

LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 17: Matt Manning #83 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during Spring Training workouts at the TigerTown Facility on February 17, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

But, a successful 2021 season means that players are attending to every detail. That young pitchers begin to emerge and live up to draft and scouting reports.

If that happens then the Detroit Tigers will be closer to the end of a long rebuild.

Heading to Comerica Park for a Detroit Tigers home game, here are the guidelines

553 days. To put it another way, more than 18 months have past since any fans had tickets scanned and entered Comerica Park for a Detroit Tigers home game due to COVID-19. Now to start the 2021 MLB season exactly 8,200 fans will be allowed to attend. Some things will remain while other things will not be allowed, not yet anyway. Let’s take a closer look.

Opening day in Detroit is special. As a child I would routinely come up with a mystery headache or upset stomach on opening day so that my Mom would either call me in to school or pull me out of school. After all everyone knows baseball, opening day baseball in Detroit is better medicine than anything over the counter.

DETROIT, MI – APRIL 17: A detailed view of the Comerica Park Ferris Wheel during the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park on April 17, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the White Sox 2-1. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

As Detroit Tigers will have fans in the stands this season, the 8,200 is expected to rise as the season moves along. Some things that fans are accustom to will remain, some will not at this time.

What’s new at Comerica Park? For starters wearing masks, sitting space apart, social distancing throughout the ballpark, cashless payments and filling out gameday wellness surveys. This is where we are at this time. For good reason.

Yet, some “normalcy” is also going to be in effect. Fans can still enjoy getting a hot dog, sausage, peanuts, nachos and, Little Caesars pizza. Detroit Tigers mascot “Paws” will still be around the ball park and up to his usual antics. Word is the Easter Bunny will make an appearance this weekend as well. Oh, and Friday night fireworks after the game? They are still going to take place.

DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 17: A merry-go-round in the stadium prior to Game Five of the American League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park on October 17, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, kid favorites the carousel, Ferris wheel and face painting will not be open. It is all to ensure families and fans are safe. As noted, MLB expects more fans will be able to attend games as the season moves along.

I plan to attend Detroit Tigers games this season to take in the final stages of the long rebuild. But, mostly because I could not last season. Even though the Tigers will not be very good this season, they will be again very soon.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Casey Mize pitched out of a funk and onto the Tigers roster

It was a rough spring training for one of the Detroit Tigers top prospects, pitcher Casey Mize. Mize was hit hard almost all spring. While Mize was the one throwing the ball he was also doing what his manager and coach’s asked him to do. Work on his release and work on throwing a rising fastball, while on-the-job. The results were not always pretty. But with one final chance to make the opening day roster Mize came through.

I am of the opinion it would have done little to no good to send pitcher Casey Mize to Triple-a Toledo. Sure Mize could have had a few starts with the Mud Hens and perhaps honed his pitches a bit more. However, Mize is better served pitching in Detroit and figuring things out at the major league level.

LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 27: Casey Mize (12) of the Tigers flips the baseball to himself during the Detroit Tigers spring training workout on February 27, 2021 at Tigertown in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I believe, Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch and pitching coach Chris Fetter wanted to wait until the bitter end before deciding where to place Casey Mize. That is why he was given another opportunity to pitch Thursday night. Most young prospects would feel the pressure and perhaps Mize did, he also threw his best game of the spring.

In four innings of work Thursday night Casey Mize struck out 9 batters. All of his pitched found the strike zone including one that had eluded him well almost all spring, the rising fastball.

A.J. Hinch said in his second to last start there was little doubt Mize could get MLB batters out. But that Mize needed to be more consistent in the strike zone. Thursday night Mize did just that.

LAKELAND, FLORIDA – MARCH 19: Casey Mize #12 of the Detroit Tigers looks on prior to the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on March 19, 2021 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

In my opinion this is not only the right move for the Tigers organization to make, but also for Mize and pitching coach Chris Fetter. By earning a roster spot A.J. Hinch is in effect saying that he trusts player and coach to make sure development is still moving forward.

Tarik Skubal, another Detroit Tigers top prospects made the starting pitching rotation earlier in the week. Now with Mize earning a spot this can do nothing but help the Tigers ongoing rebuild speed up.

With the third pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, here is a look at who the Detroit Tigers could take

The bad news, the Detroit Tigers rebuild continues. The good news it is closer to being over. More good news, the Tigers have the third pick in this years MLB Draft. In last years draft the Detroit Tigers went with all position players and no pitchers. Not on purpose mind you. The players selected kept falling into the Tigers lap and the team was right to draft them. So who might the Tigers select in this years draft? Let’s take a look.

It is at this point where I’d like to remind you of my sheer distain for “mock drafts.” They are rarely on point and are in my opinion an incredible waste of time to read and sift through. I prefer to look at the organization and see what needs they have. So here we go.

VARIOUS CITIES, – MARCH 12: A detail of baseballs during a Grapefruit League spring training game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 12, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Many professional and college sports are canceling or postponing their games due to the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Detroit Tigers organization is set with pitching. In fact the Tigers pitching prospects are ranked #1. That said if (and it is a big IF) Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter is there at #3 the Tigers should pounce. Pun and no pun intended.

Leiter would be an incredible addition to a future Tigers starting rotation already featuring Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal. The fact that Jack Leiter threw a no-hitter this past Saturday makes it impossible he slides past #3.

Another player who would be welcomed in Motown is top high school talent short stop Jordan Lawlar. There is a lot of talk that Lawlar is not only the best high school prospect but that he is better than Bobby Witt Jr. (Kansas City Royals.)

A Detroit lineup that features Spencer Torkelson, Riley Green, Isaac Paredes and Lawlar is enough to make Tiger fans drool with excitement. Those four would make a very good core to build around.

Next the Tigers are desperate for a catcher. If the team places this as a priority then University of Miami’s (FL), Adrian Del Castillo would be ideal. Del Castillo brings power and patience with hit hitting. With 39 extra base hits and 43 walks an 32 strike outs in 77 games played, makes him attractive at #3.

It should be noted of the players I mentioned both Leiter and Lawlar (even though he is a high school prospect) are closest to being MLB ready. In my opinion, if the Detroit Tigers select one of the three plays mentioned they will be better.

SECAUCUS, NJ – JUNE 08: The Draft board is seen ahead of the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft at MLB Network on Monday, June 8, 2020 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

With the #2 ranked farm system The Tigers are poised to add talent and have the makings of a very good baseball team. July 11–13, in Atlanta, Georgia is the date to remember as the 2021 MLB Draft is set to take place.

The Detroit Tigers pitchers are being instructed to throw rising fastballs

Every pitcher from youth is taught to keep the ball down in the strike zone. Hitters like to hit the ball waist high and slightly higher. So it seems very counterintuitive that the Detroit Tigers pitchers are being asked to throw rising fastballs this spring. This is at the recommendation of Tigers manager A.J. Hinch. High fastballs? Really?

There is a method to the madness. As odd as it seems to have all pitchers (minor league included) learn how to properly throw rising fastballs it may be good strategy. I can only guess this is part of A.J. Hinch’s thought process.

If Detroit Tigers pitchers are pounding the strike zone with low fastballs, then a switch to a rising fastball could be effective getting a hitter to get under the ball and pop it up.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – AUGUST 21: Starting pitcher Michael Fulmer #32 of the Detroit Tigers pitches to Franmil Reyes #32 of the Cleveland Indians during the second inning at Progressive Field on August 21, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Casey Mize and Michael Fulmer have had rough patches this spring trying to hone the rising fastball. In fact both have been hit hard at times and given up home runs and extra base hits as a result of trying to find and hit location. Other Tiger pitchers have also had moments of frustration. Yet, Hinch is confident this will help the organization moving forward.

A.J. Hinch insisted that Houston Astros pitcher throw rising fastballs when he was the manager in Houston and won a World Series with a pitching staff that threw the pitch. In my opinion this is actually a smart move, as odd as it sounds and seems.

MLB hitters walk to the plate looking for low pitch’s. This dates back 152 years, as long as MLB baseball has been around. Imagine a pitching sequence something like this.

first pitch- fastball low

second pitch- change up at the knees

third pitch- rising fastball pop out to center field.

LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 25: Chris Fetter #52 of the Detroit Tigers poses during Photo Day at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on Thursday, February 25, 2021 at in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

This is what Hinch and Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter are trying to get pitchers to both see and apply. It is spring training and the perfect time for pitchers to work on adding pitches to repertoires.

It does not count against the pitchers stats due to spring training. There will be highs and lows when the season kicks off April 1, 2021. But given both Fetter and pitching repetition Detroit Tigers pitchers as well as minor league pitchers should improve on throwing the pitch as the season moves along.

 

2021 Detroit Tigers season preview

As a Detroit Tigers fan, it is easy to get ahead of yourself. To look into the very near future and see what are now Tiger top prospects evolving into a very good baseball team. After all, MLB Pipeline has the Detroit Tigers farm system ranked #2. But, the reality is that there is the upcoming season to tend to first. Here is how I see it shaping out for the Tigers.

LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 25: Tarik Skubal #29 of the Detroit Tigers poses during Photo Day at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on Thursday, February 25, 2021 at in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

First I believe Tarik Skubal will break camp with the Tigers and head to Detroit at the close of spring training. I also believe both Casey Mize and Matt Manning will head to Triple-A but will both spend time in Detroit. The future of Tigers pitching both starters and relief pitching is going to be very good.

This will be another long season in Motown. That said there will be excitement at Comerica Park this summer as other top prospects get call up to get their feet wet. Not to mention fans tracking other top prospects not at Triple-A such as 3B, Gage Workman.

In the past, Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch spent money on high priced, big name free agents. The late Ilitch’s son Christopher is now owner and has vowed that he to will spend money when the core players are close to being full-time major league ready.

With only Miguel Cabrera being owed $32 million per year for the next three seasons, Detroit is poised to dip into the free agent market this coming off season. With team needs at center field and short stop the Tigers can and most likely will target big names on the market.

New Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch has put together a solid coaching staff. Hinch oversaw the final stages of the Houston Astros rebuild and took the Astros to the World Series just two years after being named Houston’s manager.

LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 25: A.J. Hinch #14 of the Detroit Tigers poses during Photo Day at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on Thursday, February 25, 2021 at in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The Detroit Tigers are in the final stages of a rebuild with A.J. Hinch in the dugout. They also have an owner who will spend money, and is armed with a very good prospect pipeline.

Better days are head for the Tigers. But first the 2021 season must be played.

 

Detroit Tigers prospect Franklin Perez has lost velocity

When the Detroit Tigers traded star pitcher Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros in 2017, the Tigers received prospects (catcher) Jake Rogers, (outfielder) Daz Cameron and (pitcher) Franklin Perez. Perez was thought to be the centerpiece of the trade, which could stand to reason. At one point Perez was the Tigers top prospect. That was a while ago.

Franklin Perez, was a once can’t miss prospect. After his trade to the Detroit Tigers the injury bug hit Perez. 2018 and 2019 saw the young right handed pitcher miss large chunks of the seasons due to injuries.

Before injuries Perez’s fastball ranged from 92-92 mph. Yesterday, Franklin Perez took the mound for the Tigers and what proceeded next was nothing short of concerning. Perez’s velocity was way off.

LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 12: Franklin Perez #58 of the Detroit Tigers looks on during Spring Training workouts at the TigerTown Facility on February 12, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

In two innings of work, Perez threw four fastball at 85.8 mph, 86.3 mph, 88.9 mph and 88.3 mph. Nowhere close to his old 92-94 mph. What is puzzling is what has happened to the young pitcher. Perhaps, the past shoulder injury is to blame.

Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch was asked about the velocity issue and if he thought the velocity would return, Hinch’s reply was somewhat downtrodden “I don’t know, We’ll see.”

The fact that Franklin Perez has been healthy for a year now, is concerning. Last year at spring training Perez’s fastball hit 92 mph regularly. So the million dollar question is what happened.

“That’s one of the things we’re going to evaluate.” Hinch said after yesterdays spring game. Without his velocity Perez threw a steady diet of off speed pitches. Changeups, curveballs and sliders. But without a fastball a pitcher can only last so long.

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 14: A detailed view of a Detroit Tigers baseball hat and glove sitting in the dugout during the game against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park on September 14, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Indians 6-4. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The hope is that the Detroit Tigers medical staff and pitching coach Chris Fetter can help Perez find his velocity. It would greatly help both the pitcher and the Detroit Tigers.

Here’s hoping they can fix the issue.