Editor's note: The Tigers recalled Alex Wilson from Triple-A Toledo on Thursday morning. Ian Krol has been optioned to Toledo.
The main storyline reads "Tigers trade Rick Porcello to Boston for Yoenis Cespedes." The two other players that Detroit will receive in the deal are almost an afterthought, but perhaps they shouldn’t be. Here is a closer look at Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier, the newest members of the Detroit Tigers’ organization.
Dave Dombrowski put things in perspective when addressing the media, sitting next to Manager Brad Ausmus at the press conference following the Tigers’ latest trades. Dombrowski explained that Rick Porcello would have been eligible to receive a qualifying offer after the 2015 season, so that his team would be able to receive a supplemental first round draft pick if he were to depart as a free agent. Yoenis Cespedes has a contract that makes him a free agent after four seasons of service time, but the terms prohibit his team from making him the qualifying offer.
That difference in terms, Dombrowski reasoned, is why the Tigers were able to receive another pair of young players from the Red Sox in the trade. Instead of a potential late first round draft choice after the 2015 season, the Tigers get Wilson and Speier.
Wilson posted a 1.91 ERA, 3.91 FIP, and an 0.88 WHIP in 28 1/3 innings in 2014. He struck out 19 batters and walked just five while pitching in relief for Boston. The six foot tall, 28-year-old right hander should provide immediate help to the Tigers’ bullpen, most likely in middle relief. He will earn the major league minimum salary and has five years of club control remaining before free agency.
Wilson, who was born in Saudi Arabia, attended high school in South Carolina and pitched at Texas A&M before being drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2009 draft. Ironically, Rick Porcello was taken in the first round of the same draft, but made it to the major leagues much sooner. Wilson was a starting pitcher through Double A ball before being moved to the bullpen at Triple-A Pawtucket during the 2012 season.
In four seasons at the Triple-A level, Wilson made 93 appearances, all but seven of those in relief. He posted a 3.85 ERA with a WHIP of 1.43. He struck out just under a batter per inning, but walked an average of four batters per nine frames. That problem followed him to the major leagues in 2013, when he walked 4.6 batters per nine innings. He worked as the closer in Triple A in 2014, recording 18 saves. When he was promoted to the major leagues, his control issues seemed to disappear, as he issued just five walks and 20 hits in his 28 innings of work.
Sox Prospects News offered this analysis of Wilson:
Wilson relies primarily on his fastball (both four-seam and sinker varieties) and his slider. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range generally, touching 95-96 mph on occasion, but is on the straight side. His sinker has slightly less velocity usually, sitting in the low-90s with late downward action. He has average-to-better command of the offering and solid control. Wilson’s best secondary pitch is his slider, primarily thrown in the 84-87 mph range.
Gabe Speier, a left-handed pitcher, is a much younger prospect than Wilson. Just 19 years old, Speier has not pitched above rookie ball. He was drafted by Boston out of high school in Goleta, California in the 19th round of the 2013 draft, and has spent a season and a half pitching for the Red Sox of the Gulf Coast League. In 33 innings, he has an ERA of 1.64, with a WHIP of 0.88, and a 16.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Speier is the nephew of former major league infielder Chris Speier. The Red Sox paid a $200,000 bonus to sign Speier, who has gotten his Tommy John surgery out of the way, early in the 2014 season.
Jordan Gorosh had this to report on Speier and Wilson:
To make room on the roster for Cespedes and Wilson, the Tigers designated 24 year old right handed relief pitcher Melvin Mercedes for assignment. Mercedes made his debut during the 2014 season, pitching two scoreless, hitless innings of relief, with one strikeout and no walks. He finished the season in Toledo with a 4.92 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 60 1/3 innings. If he clears waivers, he will be sent back to Toledo.