Detroit Tigers at New York Mets
Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., First Data Field
SB Nation blog: Amazin’ Avenue
Media: MLB Network, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Matt Boyd vs. RHP Chris Flexen
Chris Flexen is a 22-year-old righthander who has only made it as high as High-A St. Lucie in the Mets’ farm system. He was drafted out of high school in the 14th round of the 2012 MLB draft, and has slowly progressed through the lower ranks of their farm system. Last season, Flexen made 25 starts for the St. Lucie Mets, and allowed a 3.56 ERA and 3.69 FIP in 134 innings. His peripherals weren’t all that impressive, with just 6.38 strikeouts per nine innings to 3.43 walks per nine.
As such, his prospect stock has taken a bit of a hit. Amazin’ Avenue ranked Flexen the No. 10 prospect in the Mets’ system prior to the 2016 season. They cited a mid-90s fastball and solid curveball as reasons to believe in the young righthander.
His fastball, which touched 95 this year, had late life and some arm-side tail that led to lots of defensive swings and weak contact. He has a tendency to pitch up in the zone with the fastball and struggled with the command of the pitch when it was down in the zone. The primary secondary offering is his curveball, and it's a really good pitch. He threw a few that were plus and gave the opposing hitter no chance. The consistency on it wasn't perfect, but you can definitely see the makings of an average-to-plus major league offering.
Flexen also appeared in FanGraphs’ 2016 Mets prospect rankings, and was cited as a potential breakout candidate by MetsMerized. While that did not happen in 2016, he is still only 22. If he can somehow take a step forward in Double-A ball, we might hear more about him heading into 2018.
|Jose Iglesias, SS||Jose Reyes, SS|
|Victor Martinez, DH||Juan Lagares, CF|
|Steven Moya, RF||Michael Conforto, RF|
|JaCoby Jones, CF||Neil Walker, 2B|
|Efren Navarro, 1B||Travis d'Arnaud, C|
|Michael Gerber, LF||Brandon Nimmo, LF|
|John Hicks, C||Ty Kelly, DH|
|Dixon Machado, 3B||Dominic Smith, 1B|
|Brendan Ryan, 2B||Matt Reynolds, 3B|
I only see 15 pieces of flair
As is the case with many long road trips in spring training, the Tigers aren’t sending many veterans to Port St. Lucie. Victor Martinez and Jose Iglesias will make the trip, but probably won’t stick around for more than an at-bat or two. I would have liked to see Iglesias and Dixon Machado work as a double play tandem up the middle, but it will be equally entertaining to see if any ground balls make it through the left side of the infield.
Luckily, there are a couple of interesting names beyond the regulars. Michael Gerber has been one of the Tigers’ more interesting prospects since he tore up the Midwest League in 2015, and Steven Moya’s new swing changes are something to watch. Both he and JaCoby Jones will be tested by Flexen’s raw stuff and iffy command early on. John Hicks is someone to watch as well after a big season at Triple-A Toledo in 2016. Tigers fans will also get a chance to see a few intriguing pitchers in Matt Boyd, Daniel Stumpf, and Jairo Labourt.
Also scheduled to pitch: RHP Buck Farmer, LHP Chad Bell, LHP Daniel Stumpf, RHP Angel Nesbitt, LHP Kyle Ryan, LHP Jairo Labourt, RHP Adam Ravenelle