The Detroit Tigers made a bit of a surprise move on Monday when they called up outfielder Mike Gerber. Not only did they designate reliever Drew VerHagen for assignment in the process, they also passed over more experienced players like Mikie Mahtook and Jim Adduci, both of whom had productive years for the Tigers in 2017. Mahtook has struggled at the plate since being sent to Toledo on April 12, but Gerber was in a rough patch of his own when he was originally called up last Friday.
Gerber made himself known to many Tigers fans when he dominated the Single-A Midwest League in 2015 with the West Michigan Whitecaps. He has continued to hit well in the minors since then, but a climbing strikeout rate is one of a few flaws prospect evaluators have pointed out in his game. Between a limited profile and a potentially fluid roster situation — Gerber may only be here while the Tigers are playing in a National League park this week — we should temper expectations for his first real taste of major league action. He did impress the team during spring training, though, so he may stick around for a bit longer.
Still, this represents an exciting time for the franchise. Gerber is the first of the “new guard” to arrive in the majors, and does so just after the deadline for netting an extra year of service time for minor league players. The Yankees called up infielder Gleyber Torres on Sunday with the same timing in mind. While Gerber may not have as productive a major league career as some of the top prospects also seeing their service time gamed, the Tigers should still take advantage of the system put in front of them.
This move may be about more than Gerber too
By designating VerHagen for assignment, the Tigers have opened a spot on their 40-man roster. Gerber was already on the 40-man, so the roster currently sits at 39 players. One potential option to fill that void is lefthander Blaine Hardy, who has been pitching quite well down in the minors.
The Tigers could also look outside the organization for another player. They own the first right of refusal on any player placed on waivers until May 1, and may have someone in mind already. The Yankees acquired righthander A.J. Cole on Monday — he would have been my first pick — but other relievers like Wilmer Font and Luke Bard are currently in waiver limbo.
We’ve learned things about the Tigers
At Brush Street Baseball Club, Grace identifies five things we’ve learned about the 2018 Tigers so far (make sure to subscribe to their Patreon!).
Miguel Cabrera might be back
After an absolutely abysmal 2017, Detroit’s superstar slugger might just be back to his old self. Cabrera is batting .300 and has had multiple hits in six games so far. He also has two home runs and 12 walks — two of which were intentional. It’s still early, but as the weather warms up I wouldn’t be surprised if Cabrera matches his 2016 season, when he finished with a .316 average, .956 OPS, and 108 RBI. That would be more than acceptable for a man who just turned 35.
Anthony Fenech of the Free Press also identified five reasons why the Tigers have surprised in 2018.
Around the horn
Mike Trout is still impossibly good. One Angels writer shares a personal and humbling story. The Red Sox ate pizza and watched the Bruins lose in Toronto. The Tigers might actually have a good outfield defense now. Bucs Dugout previews the upcoming Tigers-Pirates series. Royals Review points out the positives of targeting hitters in the draft.
Baseball is awesome
Jenny Cavnar joined an exclusive group of women that have called play-by-play for an MLB game.
We are extremely proud of @jennycavnar who tonight becomes among the first women ever to call play-by-play for a @MLB broadcast. pic.twitter.com/Y8aQhARnnn— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) April 24, 2018
Also, shoutout to the Rockies for mercilessly calling out trolls on Twitter.