As we roll into mid-March and most of you are most likely more worried about which weekend of the month is going to be the best one for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day —because of course we have turned a one-day peripheral religious holiday into a month-long drinking game — I feel it is my duty to make you aware that the Tigers are just 2 1⁄2 games out of first place...in the Grapefruit League [Ed.: And tied for first in MLB play!]. At 7-9, the Tigers have won some and lost a few more. None of this will matter in a couple weeks, but let’s take a look at the important things we may have learned in the past few days.
Christin Stewart is ready
Christin Stewart likes fastballs. That has been apparent this spring, as he has continued showing that his bat appears to very much be ready for major league pitching. This is Stewart’s first big league camp, and he is making a good showing of it. But the bat hasn’t really been the issue for Stewart throughout his minor league ascent; it was the glove that slowed him down. To that end, the organization seems optimistic that he is shaping into a serviceable left fielder. We’ll see how that plays out — PECOTA seems optimistic — but being able to smack the snot out of a baseball will go a long way to erase any difficulties in the outfield.
Beau knows goals
Beau Burrows is working on not being the overlooked pitching prospect in Detroit’s system. While he showed flashes of the ability that made him a first round pick, he also struggled at times last year. The key for him is consistency. He has the full four-pitch arsenal — I see you, Jim Price — and the hope is if he puts it together, he will get the opportunity to display it in Detroit this summer.
Anthony Fenech of The Detroit Free Press is a little concerned about Michael Fulmer. Not just because his velocity still seems to be down after three spring training starts, but because a nearby talent evaluator for the Atlanta Braves noted that Fulmer didn’t look right. Wearing a knee brace while recovering from offseason surgery, it looks like Fulmer isn’t fully utilizing his lower half while pitching. At this stage of the game, it’s a bit concerning. If Fulmer doesn’t show improvement on this front, it could be a problem going forward.
Jordan Zimmermann keeps plugging away at the kind of spring that presents an extremely qualified kind of hope in Tigers fans. He looked good in his third start, again, and said that he felt like he had total command on the mound. Zimmermann cites his health as the biggest factor in his performance this spring. Dare we hope it carries over into the regular season?
A Rupp in the woods
If a catcher is traded for organizational depth in spring training, does it make a sound? In the kind of deal I love (that of the cash considerations sort), the Tigers acquired Cameron Rupp from the San Francisco Giants. Should Grayson Greiner be worried? No. I hope Cameron likes Toledo; he will probably grow somewhat accustomed to the roadways between the Glass City and Detroit, as he pops in and out of the lineup throughout the year.
Insert Stumpf here
On March 7, Chris McCosky of The Detroit News told us of Daniel Stump’s impressive spring that put him back into the conversation for a bullpen spot. With a lively fastball and a sharp slider, Stumpf had not yet allowed a single hit. Then, he gave up two dingers on Saturday, allowing three runs in an inning of work. The Tigers seem to like Stumpf, and when the slider is working he’s pretty alright. Let’s hope he figures out how to make that a regular occurrence.
Around the horn
Brad Ausmus embraced analytics and aced his Angels interview. Blake Snell wins the Cy Young and gets his contract renewed for $573,000. Has betting on baseball finally outgrown Pete Rose? A mom heckles her son after he gives up a home run in his first college pitching appearance.