The Detroit Tigers made one of their most anticipated roster moves of the season on Thursday in selecting right-handed reliever John Schreiber from Triple-A Toledo. Schreiber, a former 15th round pick out of the University of Northwestern Ohio, has been something of a folk hero in the Tigers farm system after a dominant season at Single-A West Michigan back in 2017. He skipped straight to Double-A in 2018, and has spent most of the 2019 season in Toledo.
While Schreiber’s name is well-known among those paying close attention to the Tigers farm system, he will be a new face to many. Let’s take a closer look at what we should expect from him at the major league level.
As mentioned, Schreiber was taken in the 15th round of the 2016 MLB draft. He put up solid numbers at short-season Connecticut that summer, but put his name on the Tigers prospect radar with the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2017. It was there that he posted a 0.54 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 50 1⁄3 innings. He gave up three combined runs in consecutive outings in early June and... well, that was it. He ran off 21 consecutive outings without an earned run to close out the season.
Schreiber ran into a bit more resistance at the Double-A level in 2018, but still put up excellent numbers. He struck out 59 hitters in 58 innings and limited opponents to a 2.48 ERA. He surrendered a home run in an outing on July 29, the first of his pro career — over two full years after he was drafted. Schreiber has been a bit more homer-prone this season, but has continued to rack up strikeouts with abandon. Through 54 1⁄3 combined innings at Double and Triple-A, he has 71 strikeouts and a 2.80 ERA.
The scouting report
Schreiber is a sidearmer — get used to hearing that — who sits in the low-90s with his fastball and has topped out as high as 93 mph. The fastball gets some natural arm-side run from his arm slot, and he pounds the strike zone consistently with the pitch. He is listed at 6’3 and hides the ball well to play up the deception of his delivery. Naturally, this has been hell on right-handed hitters. They are batting just .185/.273/.298 against him this year, and produced a .590 OPS off him last season.
While lefties haven’t fared too much better against him in the minors, they will make or break him at the major league level. Schreiber’s secondary pitches are both fringe-average offerings, according to our friends at 2080 Baseball, and don’t give lefties enough pause from getting out over the plate against his fastball. The Tigers have challenged Schreiber to tighten up his breaking ball over the past couple years, something that hasn’t quite shown up in his stats yet (lefties have a .756 OPS against him in the minors this season).
If Schreiber can develop a more consistent secondary offering, he could be a solid middle reliever or even setup man. Former Orioles reliever Darren O’Day is the lazy comparison because of the similarities in their deliveries — though O’Day’s is from a noticeably lower arm slot, Schreiber describes his as “low three-quarters” — but gives one an idea of how Schreiber’s career could play out. If the 25-year-old can continue dominating righties and limit the damage against lefties, the Tigers will have a useful reliever on their hands.
(h/t our friends at Tigers Minor League Report)
The other stuff
You will hear this roughly 5,000 times on tonight’s Fox Sports Detroit broadcast, but Schreiber is a native of Wyandotte, Mich. who pitched at Gibraltar Carlson High School and Henry Ford Community College before moving onto Northwestern Ohio. The profiles from the local media are already out, and will probably continue this weekend, especially if Schreiber gets off to a hot start.