We’re now just over two weeks from the start of the Major League Baseball season. Starting pitchers are stretching out their workloads. Position players are feeling for the right amount of plate appearances to hit the ground running on Opening Day. As a result, this is the point in spring training when the sweeping cuts arrive through major league camp.
The Detroit Tigers reassigned 13 players to the minor leagues on Tuesday, including top prospects Isaac Paredes, Joey Wentz, and Daz Cameron. There weren’t any surprises, but there are a few players we would have liked to see more from this spring.
Paredes missed the first few weeks of Grapefruit League play with a minor arm issue, and didn’t see much action as a result. So, it’s a little disappointing to see him moved without getting a chance to show his stuff. It would have been interesting to see him alongside Jeimer Candelario and Dawel Lugo a little more, but he was always destined to be optioned to the Mud Hens to start the year.
Cameron and Derek Hill were also optioned to Toledo as expected. The Tigers top pitching prospects are going to have a strong outfield behind them with the Mud Hens this season. The question is how the Tigers decide to share out center field duties there.
On the pitching side, the most notable move sees Franklin Perez optioned to the High-A Lakeland Flying Tigers. The injury-plagued starter impressed in camp simply by getting his work in and looking relatively undiminished after two-plus seasons spent largely on the shelf. It would be a huge boon to the Tigers farm system if Perez has his shoulder issues worked out. Keeping him in Lakeland for a while under the watchful eye of the Tigers’ player development staff makes good sense. It’s difficult to be more than cautiously optimistic, but so far so good.
Tigers option Kyle Funkhouser, John Schreiber, Sergio Alcantara, Isaac Paredes, Daz Cameron and Derek Hill to @MudHens.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) March 10, 2020
Anthony Castro optioned to Erie.
Franklin Perez optioned to Lakeland
Gerson Moreno, Wladimir Pinto, Joey Wentz, Cooper Johnson, Jhon Nunez to minor-lg camp.
Joey Wentz, Gerson Moreno, and Wladimir Pinto are presumably destined for Double-A Erie in the end. Wentz really impressed an an under-the-radar starting pitching prospect late last season after coming over from Atlanta in the Shane Greene trade. He has been held back this spring with a forearm strain. Moreno and Pinto are hard-throwing right-handed relievers with good stuff and mediocre command.
Kyle Funkhouser and John Schreiber have looked shaky in camp so far and were not competitive for a bullpen role. They will regroup in Toledo, as will light-hitting shortstop Sergio Alcantara, who will presumably play second base to Willi Castro’s six.
Righthander Anthony Castro only saw two innings in Grapefruit League play and was wild. A little time for Castro to get accustomed to the preparation of a reliever is in order, but as he has already had some success as a starter at the Double-A level, the club would no doubt like to see him ready to move up in short order.
The Tigers top pitching prospects are still in major camp for the moment. Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize, and Matt Manning have all looked like they belong this spring, but with minor league camp opening on Thursday, assignments to Toledo are likely to come for all three soon.
The starting rotation and most of the everyday jobs on the field are locked up, pending everyone getting to Opening Day healthy. As usual, the developing roster battle in the bullpen will hold much of the intrigue the rest of the way. Joe Jimenez was anointed official closer by manager Ron Gardenhire on Tuesday, and Buck Farmer has the setup man position. Beyond that, it’s still anyone’s guess.
The Tigers rightly like what David McKay can do, while Jose Cisnero and lefty Gregory Soto have the power stuff to help out this season. Each remains beset by command issues but could be useful. Bryan Garcia and Nolan Blackwood have also performed pretty well so far despite more pedestrian stuff to offer.
Rony Garcia’s status as a Rule 5 draft pick helps him as the Tigers can’t demote him without returning him to the New York Yankees. He has been inconsistent but interesting thus far.
One of Nick Ramirez and Tyler Alexander seems to be a lock as the Tigers need a lefthander who can get through a lineup. Zack Godley is fighting for his life as a starter but might make a decent middle reliever. However, he is being outshined by sinkerballer Dario Agrazal to date. That group, along with a few challengers like veterans Alex Wilson and Tim Adleman, or hard-throwing right-handers Sandy Baez and Shao-Ching Chiang, will be trying to claim a job over the next few weeks.
In the outfield, Cameron Maybin and JaCoby Jones are two locks for the Opening Day roster, with Christin Stewart presumably coming north as well. Troy Stokes Jr. and Travis Demeritte have done some impressive work at the plate this spring, but the Tigers like Victor Reyes, and he likely has the inside track if the others don’t keep up their heavy hitting ways over the next few weeks.