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.

The Detroit Tigers are proving rebuilds are no fun

Embed from Getty Images Having good prospects is well and all, however when the current Detroit Tigers are in a seven game losing streak the prospects seem a long way off. Rebuilds are no fun.

It was never going to be a good season for the Detroit Tigers. But on paper it should not be or have been this bad. The Tigers are getting decent pitching, not great mind you but decent. The Tigers can not hit this season.

When they are hitting no one is on base to knock in. It has not been pretty as of late in Motown. The Tigers currently sit 9 games under .500 and 12.5 back in the standing, good for second to last in the American League Central.

Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer were brought in as free agents. The hope was that both former All-Star players would add stability both in the field and in the batting lineup. Mercer is hitting .206, with 1 home run and 3 R.B.I.’s. While Harrison is hitting .161, with 1 home run and 8 R.B.I.’s.

It is not on those two players only. But that is just a microcosm highlight of what is taking place this spring heading into summer at Comerica Park. Not good, not fun. Growing pains were going to take place. But this was not the predicted level of pains.

While it is good for the organization top prospects are performing well. Some are also struggling, which is to be expected as they figure things out at a new baseball level.

Yet, fans in Detroit do not care about what is going on in Grand Rapids Michigan, Lakeland Florida, Erie P.A., or Toledo Ohio. It is hard to root for prospects to develop when players that should be developed and are getting paid very well are failing on such a large scale.

But that should be the fans focus. It is the Detroit Tigers front office focus as well. It is all about prospects. Most Detroit area media members want to talk about Casey Mize or Matt Manning or another prized prospect. That is what this season is in Detroit.

Next season will see the arrival of some of those prospects and the sun will shine again. Right now it is dark.

Tarik Skubal, maybe the steal of 2018 draft for the Detroit Tigers

Embed from Getty Images For the Detroit Tigers the 2018 MLB draft, most of the focus has been on Casey Mize, the first-overall selection. For good reason. Other players from the draft class have generated headlines and buzz: outfielder Parker Meadows (second round), second baseman Kody Clemens (third round) and outfielder Brock Deatherage (10th round).

It is starting to look like the Tigers found a gem in the ninth round.  A pitcher who keeps turning heads: Tarik Skubal, a left-handed pitcher, whose fastball touches 95 m.p.h.

Skubal has 41 strikeouts for Single-A Lakeland, that not only leads the Florida State League but ranks 10th in all of minor league baseball. Skubal was a 2015 College Baseball Freshman All American at Seattle University. Skubal redshirted in 2017 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He came back and regained his velocity, recording 106 strikeouts in 80 innings but fought and struggled with his command, walking 56. Those walks might have scared off other teams, but the Detroit Tigers scouts saw enough in the left handed pitcher and took him in the ninth round.

Since  joining the Tigers,Tarik Skubal  has had no control issues. He bounced through three levels of the minor leagues last year, dominating along the way. If Tarik continues to develop, at his current rate it will be an all out draft pick steal for the Tigers organization.

It is not often players selected ninth round turn out in the major leagues. This is different. Tarik Skubal is starting to look like the Tigers found a gem.

Detroit Tigers prospect Casey Mize wasted no time in being promoted

Embed from Getty Images The anticipation, has been met. Detroit Tigers top prospect Casey Mize needed just four starts at Single-A to show he simply did not belong. The buzz remained. Not just for Mize, but for the organization’s pitching prospects as a whole, including right-handers Matt Manning and Alex Faedo.

“Have you seen what these guys are doing in the minors?” pitching coach Rick Anderson asked the Detroit media last Wednesday afternoon. The Detroit Tigers decided  to promote Mize to Double-A Erie. Casey Mize, 21, allowed one run on seven hits in 26 innings for Class A Lakeland, posting an 0.35 ERA and 0.308 WHIP in four starts. He struck out 25 batters and walked one.

Upon doing so the Eris Seawolves now have Mize, as well as first-round draft picks Matt Manning (2016) and Alex Faedo (2017). It goes without saying Erie has one of the minor leagues’ most formidable starting rotations. “Being part of that rotation is really cool,” Casey Mize said. “I know what we could be capable of.”

The promotion of Mize leaves the possibility he could receive another by the end of the season, to Triple-A Toledo, where he will face more refined hitters, and potentially receive a September, Detroit call-up.  The Detroit Tigers,  though they made an early move, will not push the issue. Only saying they want all prospects to feel good before moving them along in the system.

It is  more likely that Mize pitches with the SeaWolves for the majority of this season, perhaps finishing up with a few starts in Toledo, which in turn could put him in line to compete for a starting rotation with the Tigers next season.

“By the time we get to next year, I think he’ll be pushing the envelope,”  Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. The last Detroit the last Tigers pitcher with similar age, ability, and experience  Justin Verlander skipped Toledo entirely.

While things are rough in Detroit. The Tigers minor league prospects are putting on a show. Now with three of the teams top pitching prospects in Erie PA things are looking up for the Tigers even more.

 

Detroit Tigers top prospects are on fire

Embed from Getty Images Things are starting to shape up for the Detroit Tigers top prospects. This is good news for the Tigers organization as a whole. Top minor leaguers are on fire.

Parker Meadows who the Detroit Tigers took  in the second round of the 2018 draft on Friday night when he hit an inside-the-park home run for the West Michigan Whitecaps. Speed, hit ability defense Meadows has all the tools. “For me, I see his ceiling as a high ceiling,” Tigers general manager Al Avila told me earlier this spring. “Why? Because of his athleticism.

Daz  Cameron who is in Triple-A Toledo,  entered Sunday hitting .257 in Toledo with four extra-base hits in nine games. Cameron has also flashed the leather with great defense.

Pitcher Beau Burrows also with the Mud Hens,  has had a hot start for dominating a pair of games. He struck out 12 in 10 ⅓ innings of work, allowing just one unearned run. The Tigers’ top pick in the 2015 draft has shown control, not walking any batters to open the season. He should get a showcase start soon in Motown.

Alex Faedo, in Erie PA with the Seawolves, and was  the Tigers’ top pick in 2017, has been just as impressive as Burrows. Faedo struck out 15 in his first 12 innings of work, allowing two runs and not walking anybody.

Not to be outdone, 2016 top pick Matt Manning also with the Seawolves, struck out 15 in his first 12 innings over two games. He’s allowed three walks, but just two hits and one earned run.

Casey Mize, the Tigers No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, is keeping pace with the other sizzling starting performances by Tigers prospects. He started the season with 15 strikeouts in 11 innings of work and didn’t walk anybody. and should be moved to Double-A very soon.

 

To recap those hot starts, Mize, Manning, Burrows and Faedo combined for 57 strikeouts in 45 ⅓ innings, with just five walks. Reasons for Detroit Tigers fans to be excited.

Detroit Tigers to debut “Players Only” broadcast series vs Indians

Embed from Getty Images It has never been done in the history of Major League Baseball. On Tuesday afternoon the Detroit Tigers will carry the first of 17 “Players Only” broadcasts. Fox Sports Detroit general manager Gregg Hammaren said “We’re always trying to come up with something fresh.”

The “Players Only” broadcast will consist of former players and perhaps current Tigers players as well. It is an attempt to bring fans closer to the game. Former Detroit Tigers, Jack Morris, Kirk Gibson, Craig Monroe, Dan Petry and some special guests will take part.

Fox Sports Detroit is using The Video Call Center which basically eliminates a three-second delay in transmitting communication. This will allow the players to join in the conversation live.

Fox Sports Detroit’s executive director Jeff Byle said “We all have to pay attention, but we want to add a different flavor. One of a bunch of players watching the game from their couch.”

Byle would not say exactly who would be joining the broadcast along with the former Tigers already with the network. Players may only be able to join for an inning to two depending on their schedule.

MLB has said they are going to keep an eye out for the groundbreaking broadcast. Perhaps to plan some of their own like ventures during games. This could change broadcasting as we know it. No more two maybe three people in the booth. If the Detroit Tigers can pull this off the sky is the limit.

The baseball season is long. It is nice to see an attempt at a new angle for the game. With so many great former players and Hall of Famers this should create a buzz not only in terms of baseball but of all sports. It just so happens that Detroit is doing it first.

Detroit Tigers home opener at glorious Comerica Park

Embed from Getty Images Comerica Park opened 20 years ago. It has not aged a day. A ballpark in the middle of downtown Detroit. Comerica Park is one of the few honest to goodness downtown ballparks in MLB. Today the Detroit Tigers will celebrate Opening Day in Motown.

The home of the Detroit Tigers boasts  open vistas in the outfield that shows off the Detroit skyline. It also has a fantastic open-air concourse unlike the tunnel of the old Tiger Stadium. Not to mention giant statues of Tiger legends  Al Kaline, Hal Newhouser, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Willie Horton and Ty Cobb.

With no  apologies to the baseball purists, Comerica Park is more family friendly than the rest of the MLB parks. There is a  carousel and  Ferris wheel For children to enjoy which adds more entertainment value to attending a Tigers.

20 years in, and Comerica is still a great place to watch a ball game. Gone from the early days are the crazy expansive dimensions the Tigers  took about about 25 feet off the distance to left field and also moved the bullpens from right field in order to add  1,000 better seats. A great upgrade.

Comerica Park is the only professional Detroit sports venue that isn’t enclosed.  The most underrated aspects of Comerica Park is the food. The  Little Caesars Coney Deep Dish Pizza is a must! Comerica park is one of the few parks that allow fans to bring their own food in. Good for people who have food restrictions.

I believe Comerica Park is the best  ballpark experience in baseball. Detroit Tigers fans take baseball seriously. Even in the midst of a rebuild, the fans are ready to roll into the season as they await top prospects. They will flock to the park once again this summer.

It helps greatly that there is a great place to watch a game. As anticipation grows waiting for the Tigers to return to postseason baseball.