Sorry, Whitecaps fans. Righthander Alex Faedo, the Detroit Tigers’ first round pick in 2017, will likely skip the Midwest League begin the 2018 season at High-A Lakeland. How do we know? General manager Al Avila said as much — and a whole lot more, per usual — to MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi on Saturday. Avila noted that both Faedo and righthander Matt Manning might begin the season in Lakeland, while fellow top pitching prospects Beau Burrows and Franklin Perez would start the year in Double-A.
Don’t expect to see any of them in Detroit, though.
“One of the main goals here is, with our premium pitching prospects, to not use any of those guys this year [at the Major League level],” Avila said. “They’re still developing.”
The Tigers have acquired enough depth that none of their “Big Four” should be needed in the majors even if injuries arise. Perez and Burrows spent partial seasons at Double-A last year, and could move up to Triple-A Toledo if things go well. Faedo is a wild card, but should also move quickly if he pitches well.
While it would be encouraging to see any of them (most likely Burrows or Perez) at some point, it’s also nice to see that the organization has learned their lesson about MLB service time. They called up Nick Castellanos prematurely in September 2013, when he saw all of 18 plate appearances. Had they left him in the minors, they could have tacked on another year of club control that would look pretty darn useful right now.
JaCoby Jones: infielder
While he played shortstop and third base throughout much of his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, JaCoby Jones has spent most of his time with the Tigers in the outfield. That is changing somewhat this spring, as Jones has been taking grounders with first base coach Ramon Santiago. Naturally, this move is meant to improve Jones’ versatility so he has a better chance of making the Opening Day roster.
While I wouldn’t say it’s ill-advised to have Jones assume more of a utility role, I’d like to see him start the year in Triple-A Toledo so he can get more consistent playing time. Leonys Martin will get the majority of starts in center for the Tigers — come hell or high water, it appears — and Rule 5 pick Victor Reyes could fill in as a fourth outfielder.
Jones could ultimately be usurped by prospects Daz Cameron or Derek Hill, but he still has the potential to be a good everyday player. His bat is still a work in progress, and he would be better served honing his pitch recognition skills in the minors — no matter where he lines up defensively.
No new friends
There are still plenty of free agents on the open market, but the Tigers won’t be talking to any of them. Avila told the media that the Tigers are “done for now” despite there still being some impact players on the free agent market.
Of course, none of those players will help the Tigers get any closer to the postseason in 2018. Most of the guys on our wish list have since been signed by other teams. Some of them — namely, pitchers Alex Cobb and Jake Arrieta — would actually be detrimental to Detroit’s rebuild thanks to the draft pick compensation tied to their future destinations.