Baseball is back.
Now, if we're honest, we would all admit this is the time of year where most of us spend the majority of our free time praying that the no one fractures or strains something, all the while wishing someone would wrap Victor Martinez in bubble wrap.
Although this portion of the year might mean nothing more to us than bringing relief to our baseball-starved souls, it's also an opportunity for a handful of the Tigers prospects to make their mark with a preview of what to expect in the 2016 season.
Here are just a few that have made quick work down in Lakeland, establishing strong expectations for what lies ahead for the Tigers farm system in 2016.
When Gerber's name was announced as a member of the non-roster invitee list, it came as little to no surprise for anyone tracking his recent accomplishments. After all, he's now the team's top-ranked position player on several prospect lists. Riding the momentum of a 2015 regular season that established his value within the organization, the 22-year-old right fielder has hit .267/.313/.667 in 11 games with the Tigers this spring.
Gerber has never been a power hitter, but he's showing some extra-base power this spring: Of his four hits, he has a double, a triple and a home run. While many minor league staples struggle to find their true footing at the major league camp, Gerber has produced at a level that outshines the youth of the former Creighton Blue Jay, giving fans plenty to look forward to in preparation for the regular season.
When it comes to prospects, few come more fully equipped than 23-year-old Jones. Tigers fans got their first taste of what the infielder brought to the table when he introduced himself by smashing three home runs in just his third game in an Erie SeaWolves uniform.
Receiving clearance to participate in spring training action before resuming a 50-game suspension when camp breaks, Jones has once again found a way to let his bat do the talking. In 14 games with the Tigers' major league camp, Jones has hit .286/.412/.786 with a pair of home runs and a 1.197 OPS.
For Jones, one area of growth you'd like to see this season will come in terms of mastering his strikeout percentage -- 32.5 percent with the SeaWolves and currently resting at 29.4 percent this spring.
Baseball, meet the seemingly new and improved Steven Moya. The larger-than-life outfielder arrived at major league camp with a visibly revised stance and swing and with it, he's tearing the cover off the ball for Detroit.
Through 23 plate appearances for Detroit, Moya is hitting .364/.391/.909 with eight hits, including four home runs, eight RBI and just a 17.3 percent strikeout rate. Putting it into perspective, in 25 plate appearances at Comerica Park in 2015, he posted a 40 percent strikeout rate and was unable to clear the fence for the Tigers. He also struck out 30 percent of the time in 535 plate appearances with the Mud Hens.
Although only time will tell if the steamrolling introduction to the 2016 season for the 23-year-old will continue, his adjustments could end in statistical improvement.
It only took a handful of regular-season outings in 2015, before fans were clamoring for 20-year-old Jimenez to get his shot at sporting the English D. The solid righthander, with his famous melt-your-face-off fastball, saw only limited action at the major league camp this year, but did not disappoint.
Adding a high-80s slider, Jimenez flirted with 100 miles per hour on multiple occasions during the Low-A West Michigan Midwest League championship run, boasting 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings for the Whitecaps. In major league camp, Jimenez fanned four without walking any, and allowed a pair of hits.
Maturity stands to only build the value of the young smoke show in 2016, and based on it, he could find himself moving very quickly up the ladder within the organization.