The trade deadline activity has been as cold as a Michigan winter so far, with no major transactions taking place in the past week. However, there have been a few interesting moves by the Detroit Tigers over that stretch of time.
While it is clear as day that the Tigers are all-in on selling whoever they can if the price is right, they are also sifting through the bargain bin looking for retreads. Some of these second-chancers have even spent time in the organization in the past. Which means it is time to sound the #OldFriendAlert!
Jake Thompson returns
The Tigers’ second round selection from the 2012 draft Jake Thompson was once a heralded prospect in the organization. Before ever reaching the majors, he was shipped off with Corey Knebel to the Texas Rangers in the Joakim Soria trade back on July 23, 2014. After bouncing around between a few big league organizations and a stint this year in the KBO with the Lotte Giants, he has come back full circle, signing a minor league contract that will land him in Lakeland with the Advanced-A Flying Tigers.
The Tigers have agreed to terms with RHP Jake Thompson on a Minor League contract. He has been assigned to Single A Lakeland.— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) July 25, 2019
Thompson has a diverse arsenal, throwing a fastball, a cutter, changeup, splitter, slider and a curveball. He put up serviceable numbers in Korea with a 4.74 ERA and 60 strikeouts to 23 walks, while over the course of 62 2⁄3 innings making 11 starts and finishing one for a complete game shutout against a hitter-friendly league. What really stands out was his home run suppression, allowing only four home runs all season. He is also still only 25 years old, so it is possible there is some untapped potential remaining in his game.
A fun fact about Thompson: He went to the same high school as Drew Verhagen, who was also drafted in 2012 in the fourth round out of Vanderbilt. However, Thompson was a freshman when Verhagen was a senior, so they probably did not play together because the latter sat out that year recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Journeyman Edwin Jackson back in action
Last Sunday the Tigers signed veteran pitcher Edwin Jackson to a minor league deal, and then sent him to Toledo to see what he has left in the tank. While he looked good in his 2018 season with the Oakland Athletics, he did not look good with the Toronto Blue Jays this year, getting shelled for a 11.12 ERA thanks to surrendering 12 home runs and 13 walks in only 28 1⁄3 innings — basically the opposite of what was seen from Jake Thompson overseas.
The Tigers are finally taking a shot on a veteran starter. Here are Edwin Jackson's numbers over the past three years.— Cody Stavenhagen (@CodyStavenhagen) July 22, 2019
2017 (BAL/WSH): 76 IP, 5.21 ERA, 6.14 FIP
2018 (OAK): 92 IP, 3.33 ERA, 4.65 FIP
2019 (TOR): 28.1 IP, 11.12 ERA, 8.97 FIP
Originally acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Joyce in 2008, he was shipped out the following season during his all-star campaign — the only all-star selection of his career. That trade was a blockbuster three-team swap that saw Curtis Granderson leave with him, and brought back Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke. It is hard to believe that was 10 years ago.
Since then, Jackson has pitched for a grand total of 14 major league teams over the span of his 17 year career. Along the way, he managed to throw a 149 pitch, 8 walk no-hitter for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and his career total teams played for is an MLB record, breaking the mark previously held by another old friend Octavio Dotel. Hopefully there is something still left in his rubber arm to offer the Tigers, if nothing more than the ability to eat innings over the home stretch of the season.
Organizational talent rankings
Baseball America has released its latest organizational talent rankings, with the Tigers moving up one slot to No. 14. While moving up is nice, that still has the organization right in the middle of the pack when it comes to prospect quality and depth. But what is a bit more of a gut-punch are the improvements seen in the San Francisco Giants’ and Baltimore Orioles’ systems.
Tigers: 15➡️14— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 25, 2019
The leap by the Orioles from No. 22 to No. 8 is simply mind-boggling, and the Giants’ jump from the cellar right into the middle of the pack is very impressive as well. After being ranked 30th in 2015, Detroit has moved farther up the ladder as a result of the massive sell-off of big league talent, but have been mired in the middle on the last couple of Baseball America lists.
Hopefully, the Tigers are able to net some high-ranking returns before the trade deadline to bolster the system. One also hopes that the Tigers’ front office knows what they are doing and will guide the farm higher and higher over the next couple of years.
One hot take on the Tigers prospect rankings
This is a bold take that just oozes of controversy.
Our new #Tigers top ten with preseason rank— Prospects Live (@ProspectsLive) July 24, 2019
1. Casey Mize (1)
2. Riley Greene (N/A)
3. Matt Manning (3)
4. Isaac Paredes (2)
5. Franklin Pérez (5)
6. Tarik Skubal (24)
7. Daz Cameron (4)
8. Parker Meadows (6)
9. Jake Rogers (7)
10. Beau Burrows (10)
Speaking of prospect rankings
Just a quick shameless plug here, but there is a new resource out for Tigers fans looking to track the various prospects and under-the-radar players down on the farm called Tigers Minor League Report. It has been put together by some very talented baseball minds, including your humble linksmith and fellow Bless You Boys staff member and prospect guru Kenon Carter. Check out the site, bookmark the Top 50 Board as a prospect reference source, and be sure to listen to our minor league team-specific podcasts.
Around the horn
Nicholas Castellanos crushes fastballs — but that’s about it. Why experimenting with Candelario at first base is no surprise. Ex-clubhouse attendant sues the Tigers over Chris Bosio’s alleged comments. Eight under-the-radar trade deadline targets. The 2019 replacement-player killers: corner outfielders. Bringing tracking data to women’s baseball. How the Atlantic League became a laboratory for the future of baseball. The great pinch-hitting resurgence of 2019.