With the cold bite of winter that February has brought, there is a ray of sunlight that is coming from Lakeland Florida. Detroit Tigers 2021 spring training is set to kick off this Wednesday. There is a lot to go over as the organization takes steps towards coming out of the long rebuild. That will not happen in 2021. But what will happen when all is said and done, is the Tigers will be closer to being a good baseball team.
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For baseball junkies this is a great time of year. Yes, I said that the winter is a great time of year. MLB teams are set to open spring training this coming week. The Detroit Tigers are armed with new top prospects as well as a top five farm system. Here’s a list of the Detroit Tigers top 10 prospects:
1. Spencer Torkelson 3B/1B
2. Casey Mize RHP
3. Matt Manning RHP
4. Riley Greene OF
5. Tarik Skubal LHP
6. Isaac Paredes 3B
7. Daz Cameron OF
8. Dillon Dingler C
9. Joey Wentz LHP
10. Alex Faedo RHP
The Detroit Tigers are predicted to be one of the worst teams in baseball again this coming season. That is just fine. While that statement may shock some, it should not. The Tigers are still in a rebuild. Albeit, a rebuild that is closer to being done.
This is still a time when the organization can use top five draft picks. This year the Tigers will pick #3 in the 2021 MLB Draft. This will be another opportunity to add more hitters to the pitching rich Detroit minor league system.
As some top prospects will be getting a look this summer and some will be getting another look, this is not a wasted season by any stretch. This is a season where the Tigers front office, coaches, and players themselves will know just where they stand and how much work is needed to take the final steps in becoming a full-time Major League Baseball player.
This is also a season for fans of the Detroit Tigers to pay attention. To keep track of top prospects be it in the minor leagues or in Detroit. To pull and cheer for them while hoping the team plays bad enough to get another top five pick in next years draft.
Last season the likes of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Isaac Paredes and Daz Cameron debuted for the Detroit Tigers. This season those four players will not only be counted on more heavily, but the Tigers organization needs them to take another step forward in their development. Yet for the Detroit Tigers more top prospects will need to take steps forward as well.
With spring training just around the corner and the 2021 MLB season set to open April 1, the Detroit Tigers are going to keep a close watch on top prospects who are slated to arrive at some point during the up coming season.
Joining Mize, Skubal, Paredes and Cameron this season should be the likes of Matt Manning, Spencer Torkelson and perhaps Riley Greene. There most certainly could be others. But those are the names most associated with 2021 call-ups.
For the rebuilding Detroit Tigers, it is important that the group of four prospects from last season show they have shaken off the jitters and awe of being in the major leagues for the first time and get down to what they do best. Producing.
For someone like Casey Mize who has a boat load of talent, he needs to find consistency and stay consistent. For Tarik Skubal the same. While Isaac Paredes and Daz Cameron need to show a better eye at the plate and get comfortable. When they did that last season they produced quality at-bats. The problem is as with many young hitters they looked lost most of the time.
A.J. Hinch, the Detroit Tigers new manager and his staff will be fixated on getting the most out of the young players. Hinch has a good history of doing this. However, this season there will be more youth served in Detroit.
The aforementioned Manning, Torkelson and perhaps Greene could be arriving at Comerica Park this summer. That means extra work for Hinch and his staff. Something the new Tigers skipper has embraced much the same way he did when he took over as manager of the Houston Astros.
Success for the 2021 Detroit Tigers will not be measured in wins and losses. Not this season anyways. Success will be defined by top prospects growth.
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.
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.
Lucas Raymond, LW, William Wallinder, D, Theodor Niederbach, C, Cross Hanas, LW, Donovan Sebrango, D, Eemil Viro, D, Sam Stange, RW, Jan Bednar, G, Alex Cotton, D, Kyle Aucoin, D, Kienan Draper, RW, Chase Bradley, LW are now part of the Detroit Red Wings organization.
It absolutely hurt the Detroit Red Wings not having the first pick in the draft. Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman did the best he could and pulled off some really solid draft picks. Picks that will help the brutal rebuild the Red Wings are enduring.
Yzerman did score a home-run pick when the Red Wings selected Lucas Raymond. Defensman William Wallinder was thought to be a first round player but fell into the Red Wings lap with the first pick in round 2.
For Yzerman and his scouting department they did not have any big misses and were able to get volume which is what is needed for rebuilds. Theodor Niederbach and Cross Hanas in my opinion were very good picks for the draft slot. Both players have big upsides and project well at the NHL level.
“At the top of the draft, you’d like to think you have a little bit more certainty as to what the player is going to be and who the top, top prospects are,” Yzerman said after Wednesday night concluded the 2020 NHL Draft.
The Detroit Red Wings second year GM sounded pleased with the draft haul, “Hopefully a few of them become NHL players.” It was not hard to identify what Yzerman and his scouting department were looking for.
Fast skaters, good hockey IQ, size with good character. As I stated before, the Red Wings did not have any real misses. The one pick I question is goalie Jan Bedar. Bedar has lacked consistency yet the 6′ 4″ netminder has the tools to be a very good NHL goalie. It seems Yzerman is banking on his developmental team to get Bedar to that level.
Now comes the fun part, watching prospects grow and reach the NHL.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Embed from Getty Images As the Detroit Tigers rebuild is moving along. The Tigers minor leagues are nearing top 10 status. Yet the 2019 Spring training is giving a look at what will be. Here is a hint. It looks pretty darn good.
This is the first Spring training the Detroit Tigers have had all of their top prospect together. Seasons past found prospects scattered. Some in instructional, some in advanced. The fact that the gang is all together shows how far prospects have come in a short time.
Top Tiger pitchers are in mid season form. Matt Manning has really stood out. In my opinion he will be the staff ace once the prospects invade Comerica Park. Casey Mize last seasons number one overall draft pick would be a staff ace anywhere else. That is a small glance at how deep and good Detroit minor league pitching is.
Alex Faedo, who saw his velocity dip last season looks like he has found his groove again. The problem is where does he fit in? A starter? Possibly. A closer? He would be nasty out of the bullpen late in games. The Tigers will sort that out soon enough.
Then the position players. The one that stands out above the rest is short-stop Wenceel Perez. At 19 years old he can do it all. Slick with his glove and dynamite with a bat in his hand.
Detroit brought in 20 year Tigers short stop and MLB Hall of Fame member Alan Trammell to work with the young infielders. Trammell could be anywhere he chooses to be. He chooses to work with the young players. Not many better for a young player to learn from.
Detroit desperately would like one of the organizations to prospects to take better care of his body. Isaac Paredes. He can hit. Good Lord, can he ever. With a logjam at minor league short stop Paredes will either be placed at third base or outfield.
The Detroit Tigers are getting better where it counts. With prospects. While the parent club will have a bad season the growth of the prospects is what matters most. They are providing what will be a bright future.
Embed from Getty Images In an attempt to prepare top prospects to take the next step. The Detroit Tigers are tutoring pipeline players in Florida. It starts now. It has to.
For the rebuilding Detroit Tigers, player development is taking center stage. Tigers player development manager Dave Littlefield is spearheading the charge. Noting that this is what is best for the players and the organization. Littlefield should know, He oversaw a Pittsburgh Pirates minor league that went on to push the parent team to solid play.
Growing pains come with every team in every sport. Players come, players go. But when a team is rebuilding and it is all hands on deck. It is paramount development takes place and players begin to play fundamental ball.
In his short call up outfielder Christian Stewart missed the cut-off man and a run scored. Manager Ron Gardenhire was less than happy. Gardenhire said the minor leagues need to get back to basics.
Gardenhire, had seen his fair share of sloppy fundamental ball. And was the one who was voicing both his concern and displeasure. He wondered out loud just what the Detroit Prospects were learning. As the major league manager Gardenhire is well within his rights to have his voice heard.
While there is not enough days to work with and teach all of the Tigers prospects in one offseason. Ron Gardenhire said next season nothing is off the table. That includes in-game benchings.
It is not that mistakes were and are made. That is life. It is and was the fact that players made no adjustments. Sometimes good old fashion tough love is needed. These are the tough love time for the Tigers.
These are the right steps for the Detroit Tigers to take. Better player development as well as tough love. Something needs to break through to the players. The Tigers never really did in-depth player development in the past. It is high time that changes.
The team traded top prospects to win division titles. That is the old way of doing business not only for the Tigers but all MLB teams. Teams have started to put a premium on prospects in order to win and stay on top longer.