Cuts have been slow to come from the Detroit Tigers camp this spring, due in large part to the World Baseball Classic taking so many of the team’s players away. On March 20, Detroit made their second round of major cuts, culling six players from the major league camp. Right-handed pitchers Sandy Baez, Warwick Saupold, A.J. Achter, William Cuevas, and Dustin Molleken, as well as utility man Brett Pill, were cut on Monday.
Baez was optioned to Class A Lakeland, while Saupold was optioned to Triple-A Toledo. Achter, Cuevas, Molleken, and Pill were sent to the Tigers’ minor league camp, and will be given their team assignments towards the end of spring training.
Sandy Baez was ranked 16th on our 2017 prospect list. He has an electric fastball and has shown improvement on both his changeup and breaking ball. As he continues to master command of his secondary pitches, he is sure to rise through the minor league ranks.
Australian pitcher Warwick Saupold pitched in the majors for the first time last year with the Tigers after toiling in the minors for five seasons. He racked up a 7.45 ERA in six games with Detroit last season, and spent some time in Class A Lakeland as well. He’s had a good 2017 spring showing, including three scoreless innings against the Baltimore Oriole’s in Sunday afternoon’s game. He is no stranger to the Mud Hens, where he had a 2.42 ERA and 7-2 record, primarily as a starter last season. This year he also pitched for Team Australia in the World Baseball Classic.
A.J. Achter is a relief pitcher who has played with both the Angels and the Twins. Last season with Los Angeles he has his best major league numbers to date with a 3.11 ERA in 27 games. He struggles with the old standby issues though: too many walks (2.9/9) and too few strike outs (3.3/9). Achter is from Toledo, so a Mud Hens assignment would find him literally right at home.
Rightie William Cuevas was tapped to pitch for Colombia in the WBC, in spite of being born in Venezuela. He gave up four earned runs in less than three innings, and Colombia was out in the first round. Cuevas last saw major league play in 2016 with the Boston Red Sox where he had a 3.60 ERA over just five innings of work, giving up five hits and two earned runs in that short time.
Dustin Molleken, best known for challenging announcers with how to pronounce his hometown of Regina, had a shaky start with Detroit last year. He gave up 12 hits over 8 1⁄3 innings, and amassed a 4.32 ERA in that time.
More surprising than the cuts, perhaps, is the Tigers’ decision to extend a non-roster invitee offer to major league camp for right-handed pitcher Arcenio Leon. Leon is a relief pitcher who spent last season playing in the Mexican League and maintained a 3.30 ERA through 60 games. His lifetime ERA over 12 seasons is 4.63, but he has had an impressive enough spring in the Grapefruit League to earn the call up. Leon will wear the number 85 in major league camp.
The Tigers now have 46 players remaining at the major league camp.