What makes a good baseball prospect?

The question was asked to me after I posted my personal Detroit Tigers top prospects list. Let me be clear I am not a scout but I play one behind the comfort of my device. To be honest I have no ideal what a person who’s been trained as a scout likes in a player.

As for me my list is short. For hitters and position players I look for:

  1. Plate discipline- can the hitter recognize pitches?
  2. Bat control- is the hitter following through on swings?
  3. Contact- is the hitter making consistent contact with the ball?
  4. Speed- to the bag or in the gap when playing in the field.
  5. Glove work- self explanatory
  6. Footwork- how does the fielder set up to make his throw?


As for pitchers:

  1. Arm strength- self explanatory
  2. Mechanics- can the pitcher consistently repeat them?
  3. Location- is he consistently around the strike zone?
  4. What does his change up look like? Anyone can throw a fastball. Without a change up a pitcher simply won’t last long.

To illustrate my point I’m going to highlight two of my favorite Tiger prospects. Pitcher Beau Burrows and SS/3B Isaac Paredes.

Burrows- 6′ 2″ right hander who has been and is flying through the Tigers system. Great arm strength his fastball touches on 99 mph and he follows it with a mid 70’s change up and a above average slider. His mechanics are spot on as demonstarated last August when he struck out 8 batters and then 10 in two consecutive starts.

He is consistently around the strike zone. But he uses his slider to get hitters to chase out of the strike zone. When your around the plate consistently batters will chase a pitch off the plate.

He projects as a top end of the rotation starter. Because of two other pitchers (Matt Manning and Franklin Perez) in the organization he’ll most likely end up being a #3 starter. That’s a great glimpse into the future of the Tigers starting rotation.

Paredes- 5′ 11″ right handed hitter and throws right handed. His first season in American baseball saw a kid (18 yrs old) give and eye raising glimpse of what he can do with a bat.

His pitch recognition is very good coupled with his discipline at the dish should have Tigers fans excited. He gave a good look into his future last September in Grand Rapids with a 3 home performance.

Well above average bat control should see him in double A (Erie Seawolves) at some point this coming season.Tigers scouts were wise to insist he be included in the trade that send Alex Avila and Justin Wilson to the Chicago Cubs for Paredes and Jeimer Candelario. Candelario was widely seen as the centerpiece of the trade. I respectfully disagree. I’ll go with Paredes. Candelario is a 3B/1B. As the Tigers advance in their rebuild I can make a strong argument Paredes will troll 3B and Candelario will move permanently to 1B giving the Tigers infielders a much needed athletic boost.

The phrase I can’t stand

“Go for it.” “It’s all good.” How about “time will tell?”
There are plenty of phrases out there. Some better than other. Some impactful and some lip service.
Starting in late 2017 a phrase entered the picture (or at least gained momentum) and sent a shiver of distain throughout my entire body. That phrase……. “trust the process.” What?! Exactly what does it mean to “trust the process?”
Everyone from players, GM’s, owners, members of the media say it. It seems to amp up when a team is in a slump or if just a bad team or entering a rebuild.
It use to be “it’s going to take some time.” But in our microwave society no one wants to hear anything about something taking time.
Both Ken Holland and Al Avila GM’s of the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers respectfully have used “trust the process” every time a microphone is in front of them as both franchises are beginning rebuilds.
“Trust the process” because no one wants to hear “we are going to be bad for a number of years so it’s going to take time.”
Call me olf fashion but I prefer blunt honesty.

It’s dark now, but it will lift

The Detroit Tigers are facing a rebuild. A big top to bottom rebuild. 100 loss seasons will be the norm for 2-3 years. That’s the the bleak depending your point of view.
The minor leagues depleted from years of trades to keep the parent team competitive. It worked. Now the aftermath comes.
Thanks to trades of players like Justin Verlander and Ian Kinsler they have brought fresh new prospects into a system desperate for them. They can in time lead the Tigers back to competitive baseball again.

1. Franklin Perez- he came in the Verlander deal. Nasty stuff 92-94 mph fastball and three above average pitches not to mention he’s electric on the mound.

2. Matt Manning- he’s big 6′ 6″ with a big time arm. Needs to develop his curve when he does he has ace stuff.

3. Beau Burrows- very good fastball 95 mph excellent command of the strike zone. With Perez and Manning it will push him to #3 starter. That is excellent pitching depth!!

4. Daz Cameron- above average hitter he’ll be around 15-20 home runs. He has great speed and glove CF problems for the Tigers will end when he’s called up.

5. Isaac Paredes- SS but given his thick fram and lack of speed seems better suited for 3B. But the kid can hit and not bad with a glove.

6. Alex Faedo- another big (6′ 5″) pitcher. Excellent command of the strike zone and throws a part curve part slider pitch that baffles hitters. A starter at the univerity of Florida he could be used in the bullpen or at closer.

7. Christian Stewart- power hitter not much for average though. Limited by below average speed and glove may push him to DH.

8. Kyle Funkhouser- solid backend of the rotation pitcher with three solid pitches. Needs to brush up on his control.

9. Jake Rogers- outstanding defensive catcher. Above average throwing arm. But can he hit? That’s not his strong suite.

The Tigers have some of the best young arms they’ve ever had at one time in the system. But they must be patient and develop them. It is critical to the future of the team. But I believe the Tigers will be back to competitive baseball in 3-5 years.

The grave yard

Monte Clark (1978-1984) 43 wins 61 losses
Darryl Rogers (1985-1988) 18 wins 40 losses
Wayne Fontes (1988-1996) 66 wins 67 losses
Bobby Ross (1997-2000) 27 wins 30 losses
Gary Moeller (2000) 4 wins 3 losses
Marty Morninweg (2001-2002) 5 wins 27 losses
Steve Mariucci (2003-2005) 15 wins 28 losses
Dick Jauron (2005) 1 win 4 losses
Rod Marinelli (2006-2008) 10 wins 38 losses
Jim Schwartz (2009-2013) 29 wins 51 losses
Jim Caldwell (2014-2017) 36 wins 28 losses

11 of them. Sure a couple filled in for fired coaches. Yet the Detroit Lions have gone through 11 head coaches since I began watching them.
Several things go into this factor. GM’s of these teams did not put enough talent on the field. Injuries are part of the game that is not an excuse but depth is very important. Not to mention some of the coaching choices were flat out head scratchers.
Flash forward to the now. Bob Quinn is now the GM architect. Brought in from the New England Patriot. The benchmark for successful football teams. He was handed a very good (in my lifetime the best) Lions quarterback in Matthew Stafford. He fixed the offensive line and drafted and signed extremely talented receivers. The time to win is now he said January one as he announced Jim Caldwell had be relieved of his coaching duties.
Now to avoid adding a twelfth coach to the grave yard list after a few seasons Quinn in perhaps his most telling moment of his young GM career must pick a slam dunk head coach. He has put championships as the only accpetable goal moving forward. This is new and refreshing talk from a Detroit Lions GM to date.
It will be interesting if he can deliver on his large aspirations.

What to do when you have sports deaf parent or spouse

I like to talk sports. A lot. I could do it 24/7 365. I like to hang around like minded people. But, sometimes life can throw you a curve. Not a twelve o’clock to six o’clock nasty Sandy Koufax breaking curve mind you.

But rather a curve like your parents don’t share necessarily share you passion for sports. If your lucky and God has a sense of humor your spouse doesn’t share that passion either.

Yup that was my upbringing and well headed into 23 years of marriage. It’s like a double whammy.

So what to do? Speak it anyway. That’s right. Get it out. Bore them the way they bore you by walking around a fabric store. To both people they would rather hear finger nails drag and scratch across a chalkboard. Perhaps that’s what they hear when I start in about a stat or a game I just read about or watched. It’s not meant to be mean or cause strife. They will listen out of love and probably look like one of the students in “Ferris Bueller’s day off.”

Which in a twisted way is fun to watch. Or you could let them off the hook and start a blog.

He ran……….

He ran. He ran fast. He ran powerfully. He ran with grace. He ran like he knew he wouldn’t be around long.

Billy Sims lightning in a bottle. The first round pick of the Detroit Lions won the 1980 rookie of the year. He ran the power sweep better than anyone I have ever seen.

He was a showman. The high stepping, airplane (arms exteneded out to his sides) side shuffling touchdown celebrations electrified Lions fans.

sadly, he would play roughly four and a half years. A horrific knee injury in Minnesota would see the Lions legend into retirement three screws holding his knee together was the deal breaker.

Yet, it was almost tragically indicative of the way he played. Throwing his body over piles of defenders. Lowering his head and shoulders to take on would be tacklers. Not to mention the famous “karate kick”  against the then Houston Oilers.

He came. He left an impression still felt in Detroit.

He ran. Oh my did he run.

How do you watch when your team is bad

It’s easy to root and watch when your favorite sports team is playing well and winning. But what happens when the window closes and a much needed rebuild is the next step? How do you continue to watch?

For me I do a few things:

  1. Take stock of minor leagues provided it’s MLB or NHL. Otherwise to to get to know draft wannabes.
  2. . Look at trade assets. Who has high trade value and can be moved for draft picks and or prospects.
  3. . How long will the rebuild take.

That is where both the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings are. For the Red Wings it’s going to be every bit of 5-7 years. Stuck with an aging roster chalked full of bad contracts and a gm who has lost his luster in his field.

For the Tigers they have good young arms in the lower minors. They still have work to do to get the farm systems up. But, given last seasons trades of players like Justin Verlander, Alex Avila, Justin Wilson, and Ian Kinsler they began overhauling the system and have breathed new life in mean time. They dumped a bunch of salaries and coupled with the fact there is no salery cap in MLB 3-5 years seems like a good estimate for the Tigers to return to solid play.

My personal enjoyment comes from the game itself. Winning to me has never been  something I wished for. Detroit sports will make you level headed and even give you a thrill from time to time.


Time to move on

Embed from Getty Images Time to move on.

It’s a phrase we’ve all heard or perhaps uttered at some point.
For Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings it’s time to move on.
For all the present ridiculing he’s taking now people forget Holland was a top NHL gm not too long ago. But, a flawed roster and a bad contract ladened team has tarnished the memory of a once dynamic gm.
He put teams on the ice. Good teams. Great teams. Stanley Cup championship teams.
Then came the salary cap followed by the downfall. For years Holland could go get whoever was need to help the Wings stay at an elite level as owner Mike Illitch encouraged.
But, then the cap came and the fall that was sure to follow through years of bad contracts which have put the team in a tight spot and a sort of cap purgatory.
It’s easy to come down on a guy when the inevitable happens.
I for one am happy. Mr. Holland did a good job. In time angry fans of today will give way to happy gratefulness of a 25 year playoff streak that will be hard to come by again. For all his great achievements it’s simply time for Ken Holland and new Red Wings ownership to part ways.
He is hated in the present. But a big part of Red Wing history.

The broken pavement

Embed from Getty Images Those of us who have been to a sporting event are treated well. From the ticket office worker to ticket scanners, ushers, vendors.
The event it’s self at least from me is great wether my team wins or loses.
Sadly often times we leave out one of the first person we come in contact with on our way into the event.
Parking attendants often overlooked and under appreciated. Too me it’s the first person I see that is representing both the lot they work and the team.
The lot attendants at Nationwide arena for Columbus Blue Jackets games are great. Dressed wether appropriate in a Blue Jackets polo or winter jacket in black slacks very professional looking sets the tone.
At a Red Wings game with My daughter at brand new Little Caesar’s arena something happened I’ve thought about a lot since.
Our lot attendant wore and old Marine jacket. It looked weathered ripped and as though it had seen battle time. His dentures either did not fit appropriately or he didn’t have the right adhesive to help them stay in place. I know because we talked to him for twenty or so minutes. My heart both hurt and was angry.
Billion dollar companies which is what sports teams are should take care of the people who are parking paying customers. They should give the uniforms tow wear and improve self confidence.
After all great men and woman or anyone should look like the pot holed worn out pavement cars are sitting on. But be the reason you park where you do.

The sports beginning

Embed from Getty Images Some people enjoy sports for many different reasons. The team, the tailgating, food, and just people watching gives us a reason to get out. All sports fans have stories attached to why the like and follow.

Me? that’s a rather simple one. I was born in Columbus Ohio but rasied in East Grand Rapids Michigan. I was raised on THE GAME (Ohio State vs Michigan) at least in college football. But in all honestly that was what ever. In 1979 I stumbled on Detroit Tigers baseball probably because I was grounded and had to stay at home. I found that more entertaining than football. Also that year I found Detroit Lions football. But they have a hard to get into history and have been downright unwatchable at time. Detroit Pistons? Yup watched them too.

However, it wasn’t until the 1980 Winter Olympics I found the sports that would raise my sports watching level. Hockey. Detroit Red Wings  hockey in the late 70’s early 80’s we very hard to watch. The “Dead Things” or “Dead Wings” as they were known then caught my attention like no other team or sport. It sucked me in. Completely!

To me Hockey is the greatest symphony of noises sports has to offer. Whether the knock of the puck hitting the boards. Or sticks meeting together at faceoff. Not to mention the thud of the puck finding it way onto a streaking stick. Or the hiss of skates rushing on the ice to the swish of a sudden stop accompanied flailing ice to the ping of the puck hitting the crossbar. The hair on the back of my neck is standing up as I type this. Watching the Wings go from horrid to Stanley Cup champions was time staking yet worth the wait.

For all sports. For better or worse, good times, bad times. I have seen them all. It’s the city I love and God willing the city I and my family will return.