The Detroit Tigers have promoted right-handed pitcher Warwick Saupold from Triple-A Toledo, the team announced on Friday. To make room for Saupold, the Tigers have optioned lefthander Daniel Norris to Toledo. Saupold will be added to the 40-man roster, taking the place of now-departed catcher Bobby Wilson.
Saupold, a 26-year-old Australian, has five seasons of minor league experience but has never pitched in the major leagues. He spent most of the 2015 season at Double-A Erie, where he allowed a 4.01 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 103 1/3 innings. He earned a promotion to Toledo towards the end of the season, and held opponents to a 0.98 WHIP with 23 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings.
This season, Saupold has a 2.37 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 30 1/3 innings for the Mud Hens. He only has 14 strikeouts thus far, but has cut down on his walks, with just eight in the 114 batters he has faced this year. He was the starting pitcher in the Mud Hens' combined no-hitter on April 23, working five innings with three strikeouts.
FanGraphs' Carson Cistulli briefly profiled Saupold (in his own unique way) earlier this year, providing one of the more recent scouting reports of the Aussie.
Saupold isn’t a top prospect, but there are some positive indicators here. Like, he possesses average fastball velocity as a starter. And like, he features a three-pitch mix. And finally like, two of the best starts of his professional career are also the last two of his 2015 season, shortly after having received a promotion to Triple-A Toledo.
Norris pitched one inning in Thursday's loss against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing a walk with no hits or runs. Originally slated to begin the season as the Tigers' fifth starter, Norris suffered a spinal fracture in spring training and spent a month on the disabled list. He is 0-3 with a 9.98 ERA in four starts for the Mud Hens this season.
Saupold will be counted on to add depth to a bullpen that has worked 108 innings in 34 games played this season. However, with a strikeout rate of just seven per nine innings in his minor league career, he is not likely to help aid the bullpen's league-worst strikeout rate.
Saupold will wear number 53 for the Tigers.