Thanksgiving is almost here, and while Detroit Tigers fans have plenty to be thankful for in their lives, their favorite baseball team has given them a lot less to be grateful for these past few years. Nonetheless, life goes on, and so does baseball — even in the offseason.
This latest roundup of Tigers news includes farm system analysis, a couple of departed pitchers, and a look at how JAWS sizes up various Hall of Fame candidates.
Tigers farm system analysis
A few days ago, MLB.com released their updated assessment of the Tigers’ farm system. Having moved up to the No. 6 position in MLB Pipeline’s August update, the team currently sports one of the more robust developmental pipelines — at least in the eyes of MLB.com — and boasts a stable of high-quality pitching talent to bolster the system.
The top five prospects are as follows, with their top 100 rank in parentheses.
1. Casey Mize, RHP (No. 7)
2. Matt Manning, RHP (No. 27)
3. Riley Greene, OF (No. 46)
4. Tarik Skubal, LHP (No. 74)
5. Isaac Paredes, INF
The hitting and pitching prospects of the year were Isaac Paredes and Tarik Skubal, respectively. Anthony Castro saw his stock go upwards this past season, while Franklin Perez continued his injury-driven fall from grace. Casey Mize was named the 2020 impact prospect after throwing a no-hitter in Double-A ball but faltering over the stretch due to injuries.
The article also lists notable additions, including first-round draft pick Riley Greene, as well as some numbers illustrating how talent is dispersed among the various positions. For the most part, the assessment is encouraging, though it does feel a bit overly optimistic at times.
Drew VerHagen heads to Japan
Drew VerHagen has spent the past six seasons in the Tigers organization, bouncing back and forth from the minors to the majors. This offseason, he is making the biggest bounce of his life; he is taking his talents to Japan.
The 29-year-old right-handed pitcher inked a one year deal with Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB), setting his sails for the greener pastures of the Asian archipelago.
VerHagen had the following to say about his newest adventure.
“It sounds like they are going to give me a great opportunity to start. I just felt like this is something cool and different and it will be big financially, as well. I’m excited.”
While he failed to impress at times while wearing the Olde English D, he has an opportunity to make a name for himself in the far east. His success in the high minors and flashes of brilliance in the majors suggest that the level of play over there will suit him well. Stayed tuned next season for some old friend alerts.
Twins sign Blaine Hardy
Speaking of old friends, Blaine Hardy has finally found a new home in the Minnesota Twins’ organization. After years of bouncing back and forth between Detroit and Toledo (much like VerHagen) the 32-year-old southpaw signed a minor league contract with the Twins in an effort to keep his major league career afloat.
Hardy was a favorite of many fans due to his resilience and work ethic, and the Bless You Boys team will miss having him and his wife Nicky around, but the move was probably the best one for him. We will all be wishing him the best.
Former Tigers reliever Blaine Hardy has signed a minor-league deal with Twins, according to source. He’ll be in big-league camp as a non-roster invite.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) November 26, 2019
JAWS and the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot
FanGraphs’ Jay Jaffe has been releasing his Hall of Fame candidate assessment series, using his JAWS system to analyze each player. Below are links to each one he has published so far.
Who is your All-MLB squad?
Not a single Tigers player is listed, which should come as no surprise after a 114-loss season. Admittedly, it makes the exercise a bit less fun if you cannot vote like a homer. Click the link and cast your vote, if you so desire.
The power is in your hands.— MLB (@MLB) November 25, 2019
Who's on your All-MLB squad?
Vote now ➡️ https://t.co/5kSMMDlq9c pic.twitter.com/RdOfMks2b7
Thanks for the laughs
Check out this top 10 list of comical moments in Tigers history. Buried at the bottom of the article is the best one of all.
This is more legend than fact, but it’s too good to leave out. (Gates) Brown was an unsung hero on the 1968 World Series champion Tigers, batting .450 (18-for-40) with three homers as a pinch-hitter that year. But it was a pinch-hit double that became the stuff of legend. As Brown and teammates told the story, he was snacking on a couple hot dogs when manager Mayo Smith unexpectedly called on him to hit. Brown stuffed the dogs in his uniform, stepped to the plate and doubled.
“That’s the only time I ever wished I’d struck out,” Brown joked, according to a Tigers press release years later.
- Tigers protect six players from Rule 5 draft. The Tigers decided to hang onto just about everyone for the time being.
- Detroit Tigers acquire RHP Dario Agrazal from Pittsburgh Pirates. The Tigers have acquired the rookie pitcher for cash considerations.
- The Tigers should sign Travis d’Arnaud because he would make the team better (even though he has already signed elsewhere). A veteran catcher is on the team’s shopping list this offseason.
- Here is a 2020 Rule 5 preview from our friends over at Tigers Minor League Report.
Around the horn
Congress to probe “potentially unfair and deceptive practices” in ticket industry. Dueling letters highlight dramatic differences between MLB and minor league baseball on elimination. A conversation with Trevor Bauer’s new agent, Rachel Luba. MLB plans to end blackouts of in-market games for cord cutters. The Oakland A’s are now the “Moneyglove” franchise. MLB investigating pitcher Sam Dyson for domestic violence after allegations posted on social media. Kazuhisa Makita signs with the Rakuten Golden Eagles and heads back home. Phillies sign former Tiger Josh Harrison to a minor league deal.
Baseball is awesome
18 years ago today, Ichiro became the 2nd player ever to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season (Fred Lynn, 1975). pic.twitter.com/317CmV9PhE— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) November 20, 2019