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Previewing every player in the Detroit Tigers’ Summer Camp

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The Tigers have selected 58 of a possible 60-man roster. Here’s a few words on each of them.

Boston Red Sox v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers announced most of their roster pool for the 2020 season on Sunday afternoon. Out of the 60 players combined they can take on the major league roster and the taxi squad backup squad, the club has selected 58 players thus far. They will have the opportunity to round out their choices this week.

First overall pick Spencer Torkelson is expected to sign for a record-breaking bonus this week, and will undoubtedly find himself included on the taxi squad. That leaves one more available spot for the Tigers to make another selection or sign an additional player.

The major league roster will be comprised of 30 players initially, paring down to 28 and then finally 26 once the season is roughly a month underway. The rest of the Tigers’ players selected appear to be Toledo bound. They will work out of Fifth Third Field, practicing to stay sharp in case the major league club needs reinforcements.

You can find the updated rules here.

Starting Pitchers

LHP Matthew Boyd - Without Michael Fulmer to contend with and seeing Miguel Cabrera’s powers reduced as he ages, Boyd was inarguably the best player on the team in 2019. There is no reason to anticipate a steep drop-off in 2020 as he is emerging as a premier strikeout pitcher.

RHP Michael Fulmer - Finally returning from Tommy John surgery, Fulmer has been cleared for baseball activities. The Tigers may ease him back into a full workload and his usage may resemble the way they played Daniel Norris last year in three-inning outings.

LHP Daniel Norris - One of the coolest people on the team, Norris is a surfer, artist, minimalist, pals with Ian Kinsler, and thyroid cancer survivor. He’s always on the verge of a breakout, but this time, we’re sure it’s his year.

RHP Spencer Turnbull - Despite being snubbed for the Tigers Rookie of the Year award doled out by the Tigers media, Turnbull had a solid rookie campaign. At his best, he was more than a match for big league hitters but faded badly after a strong start. He will turn 28 in September, and while he could be a rotation piece for the long haul, he still seems best suited to short starts or long relief until proven otherwise.

RHP Iván Nova - It was a bit of a surprise to see Nova brought into the fold, but it was understandable that the Tigers would want to pad their rotation a bit. His role will probably be smaller than anticipated because the delayed season will allow the team to use Fulmer from the get-go after all.

RHP Tim Adleman - A starting pitcher who was selected in the 24th round of the 2010 draft, Aldeman has hung around the game for a long time, playing in the majors in brief stints for the Reds in 2016 and 2017. He has also played in Korea and performed well in the upper minors last season.

RHP Dario Agrazal - A fringe prospect in the Pirates system for a number of years, Agrazal is of interest because he throws a quality sinker with excellent command. He’s not very good at anything else, though, which is why the Tigers were able to claim him off waivers over the offseason.

LHP Tyler Alexander - Blowing expectations out of the water in his major league debut in 2019, Alexander was ninth on the team in rWAR despite only playing in 13 games. He will be in play for a long relief role.

RHP Matt Manning - There is possibly no pitcher in the Tigers organization with a higher potential than Manning. He has a chance to be an ace, and all three of his pitches flash plus or better. He was tinkering with a slider but ditched it for now.

RHP Casey Mize - Detroit’s fans are split on what Mize’s role in the organization is, but there’s no doubt that he is an incredible pitcher who will be in the majors sooner than later and bring the game’s best splitter with him.

RHP Alex Faedo - This righty spent 2019 quietly revitalizing his prospect status. He dominated Double-A hitters with his funky delivery and wicked slider and could be among the first starting pitching prospects to make the majors.

Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers - Game One Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

RHP Franklin Perez - It’s difficult to tell what to make of Perez at this point. He looked as good as ever when he pitched in Spring Training action, but he hasn’t pitched many meaningful innings since coming to Detroit almost three years ago. When healthy, he is a very good prospect, but we’re in a holding pattern for now.

LHP Tarik Skubal - What can I say about Skubal that hasn’t been said? His rise has been tremendous and he is an incredible prospect. People are underestimating the reliever risk, but if his command clicks, he will be a monster in any role.

RHP Jordan Zimmermann - The 2020 season marks the end of Zimmermann’s contract with Detroit, and could very well mean the end of his career. Injuries, and just plain old wear and tear, have ravaged the abilities of the man who was once a talented pitcher.

Relief Pitchers

RHP Nolan Blackwood - The relief arm included as a throw-in from the A’s in the Mike Fiers trade, Blackwood performed admirably in the minors last year. He’s a numbers-over-tools kind of player, though, and his stuff may not work at the major league level.

RHP Beau Burrows - Once a first-round pick, it can be easy to forget that Burrows is still only 23 years old. The Tigers are expected to use him in a relief role this year and he could be one of the first of the team’s top pitching prospects to debut in the majors.

RHP Anthony Castro - There is a small but vocal niche of Tigers fandom in love with Castro, who was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. His fastball and wipeout slider could make him a decent bullpen piece. He could get his chance this year, especially if Detroit’s relief unit stumbles early.

RHP Shao-Ching Chiang - Chiang can’t seem to get a good foothold in high levels of the sport despite having plenty of ability on the mound. He was knocked around in Triple-A despite a plus fastball/change combination and the Tigers signed him to a minor league pact.

RHP Jose Cisnero - Although he spent a few years in Independent and foreign ball, Cisnero clawed his way back to the majors last year and Detroit seems to trust him with middle relief duties.

RHP Buck Farmer - Last season was a breakout year for Farmer, who could challenge Joe Jimenez for closer duties. He sports two fastballs, a slider, and a changeup that are all plus at times.

RHP Kyle Funkhouser - Bad fortune and stagnant development have conspired against Funkhouser, who lost significant money after returning to college in 2016 and lost significant time to an ankle injury in 2018. He is expected to pitch in the bullpen this year.

MLB: FEB 29 Spring Training - Tigers at Yankees (ss) Photo by /Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

RHP Rony Garcia - The Tigers poached Garcia from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft over the offseason. He will need to stay on the MLB roster all year for him to remain with the organization. Expect to see him in a mop-up role.

RHP Bryan Garcia - One of the Tigers’ best relief prospects before he fell to Tommy John surgery, Garcia debuted last season and could feature prominently in the team’s relief efforts this year.

RHP Zack Godley - The fall from grace has been steep for Godley, who was a strikeout artist for the Diamondbacks in 2017 and 2018. He lost his spot in the rotation last season, and eventually, his place in Arizona. He is currently on a minor league deal.

RHP Joe Jimenez - Appointed as the Tigers’ closer, he hasn’t always been a particularly steady hand and may benefit from reshaping his breaking ball.

RHP David McKay - Claiming McKay off waivers was a move that may look pretty savvy in retrospect, as he has all the pieces to become a solid short relief option and performed well in his brief time with the major league club last season. If he can spot his fastball a little more effectively, the breaking ball will do the rest.

LHP Nick Ramirez - No relief pitcher tossed more innings for Detroit than Ramirez in 2019, but he was removed from the 40-man roster following the season. He could earn that spot back, but he is more of a mop-up guy than anything else.

LHP Hector Santiago - The former division rival and one time All-Star came to the Tigers on a minor league deal thanks to a somewhat silly cover letter. He may end up with an edge over some other bullpen options thanks to his lengthy career.

RHP John Schrieber - With a minor league stat sheet that more resembles a ludicrously easy video game, Schrieber is a bit gimmicky, but his approach to pitching works and he is very much in the mix for a bullpen spot.

LHP Greg Soto - A power lefty with the kind of stuff that Soto can offer at times is rare, but most of time, he struggles to throw a breaking ball or cannot command his pitches. He could still be a decent reliever with a bit of refinement.

Infielders

1B Miguel Cabrera - The aging superstar is still completely capable of moving things along and will provide plenty of singles and walks, but his power has been badly sapped by injury. Between C.J. Cron and Spencer Torkelson, Cabrera is unlikely to play the field much ever again.

1B C.J. Cron - Part of Minnesota’s record-breaking “Bomba Squad” that terrorized American League pitching last year, Cron came to Detroit on a one-year pact to take over duties at first and revitalize the offense.

SS Niko Goodrum - Detroit snagged Goodrum as a minor league free agent and Goodrum has rewarded them with two years of capable, well-rounded offense and passable defense. He is expected to be the everyday shortstop.

Boston Red Sox v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

2B Jonathan Schoop - One of the Tigers’ five major free agent signings, Schoop should play second base every day and hit near the middle of the lineup. He played poorly in spring training, which would normally be no worry, but this will be a season of small sample sizes.

3B Jeimer Candelario - After a blistering start to his career in Detroit, Candelario’s offensive performance has regressed and he is on shaky ground going forward. A hot start in 2020 would go a long way toward keeping him relevant.

3B Dawel Lugo - The Tigers have given Lugo plenty of opportunities to steal the job at third base from Candelario, but he has failed to capitalize and is now out of minor league options. He may be facing a sink-or-swim season in 2020.

1B Frank Schwindel - After being ousted from the Royals organization after a brief stint on the major league roster, Schwindel played admirably in the Tigers’ minor leagues but is hopelessly blocked unless injury or sickness takes hold of the team.

3B Isaac Paredes - The Tigers acquired Paredes from the Cubs in what is perhaps the best trade of Al Avila’s tenure as general manager. He’s an advanced hitter who can tap into power and has consistently performed above his age level. The club won’t be in a rush to call him up, but he’s already one of the better hitters in the organization and has a good chance of seeing his major league debut this summer.

SS Sergio Alcantara - Even on the worst team in baseball, there was still a clear 40th man on the expanded roster, namely, Alcantara. The shortstop is a defensive stalwart but he doesn’t provide much at the plate and his days may be numbered as top prospects force their way up onto the roster.

SS Willi Castro - The Tigers utilized Castro somewhat as their season came to a close in 2019, which exposed some of the flaws still extant in his game. He worked hard on improving his defense over the offseason.

UTIL Harold Castro - Nowhere in the Tigers organization is there a player who more more epitomizes the difference between old and new schools of thought than Castro. He hits for a high but completely empty batting average and is fine as a bench piece, but don’t be fooled into thinking he’s a significant offensive performer.

Baltimore Orioles v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

UTIL Brandon Dixon - Unlike many utility players, Dixon’s carrying tool is his power. He can launch barreled balls long distances, but he struggles to play at a major league level because of poor contact, patience, and defense.

IF Jordy Mercer - The Tigers signed Mercer as a break glass option if none of their expected infielders play up to par, and when spring training ended, it looked like he may have been called upon to play third base.

Outfielders

OF Jorge Bonifacio - The Tigers signed Bonfacio, once a premier Royals prospect, to a no-risk minor league deal and will probably give him every chance to force his way onto the roster as a bench piece.

OF Daz Cameron - Cameron is sometimes heaped with expectations because he is a son of an All-Star, a major draft prospect, and part of the Justin Verlander trade. That led to disappointment when he didn’t light Triple-A on fire, but he’s still young and has a well-rounded toolkit. He is a good bet to figure into the team’s plans next year.

OF Travis Demeritte - The Tigers traded for Demeritte as the second player in the deal that shipped off Shane Greene to Atlanta. Demeritte slotted instantly onto their major league roster and wilted a bit down the stretch in 2019, but was raking in spring training before the shutdown.

OF Riley Greene - Last year’s first round selection, Greene is remarkably polished for a high schooler and raked in spring training, but he has virtually zero shot at the MLB roster in 2020. It may be interesting to see how he fares in camp scrimmaging against older competition, but really this is all about getting Greene the work and tests he needs to continue on his fast track.

OF Derek Hill - This will be Hill’s age-24 season, but he keeps showing just enough potential to stick around as a potential fourth outfielder. He showed added power in 2019 and is still a defensive wizard.

OF JaCoby Jones - The hyper-athletic and enthusiastic Jones was frustrating to watch last season because, when healthy, he appeared to have figured things out but he couldn’t stay on the field. The strikeouts will always be there, but if Jones can continue to tap into his power and stay healthy, he will be fun to watch this year.

OF Cameron Maybin - This season will be Maybin’s third stint with the Tigers. He’s a smart veteran player with excellent clubhouse presence and is coming off a hot but probably unsustainable campaign with the Yankees. He is expected to play right field.

OF Victor Reyes - Reyes has transformed himself from a spare part on the 2018 roster to a decent option in the outfield, and was one of the Tigers’ best players in 2019. Of course, that alone is not saying much, but he could capture a spot in the Tigers’ long-term plans.

OF Christin Stewart - The offensive prowess Stewart demonstrated in the minor leagues has failed to arrive in the majors, which is a problem because his glove work resembles that of a designated hitter. He will undoubtedly make the team, but he must prove himself this year.

Catchers

C Austin Romine - The lifelong backup was an antagonist in Detroit’s brawl with the Yankees a few years ago, but that bad blood is more like water under the bridge. He has been handed the reins and will handle the main catching duties.

C Dillon Dingler - The only 2020 draftee to crack the initial Summer Camp roster is Dingler, who the Tigers popped in the second round. He’s athletic and has a power arm along with capable offensive traits.

C Eric Haase - A hometown kid who is returning to Detroit, Haase is the guy who could unseat Greiner for the backup catching job. We’re working to confirm that the source of his double-plus power is, in fact, that robust beard.

Minnesota Twins v. Detroit Tigers Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

C Jake Rogers - It’s not difficult to understand what Rogers offers on the baseball diamond. The main source of value comes from his defensive work. He also packs a punch at the plate but it’s at the cost of a number of strikeouts. Offseason work with Doug Latta led to some intriguing swing changes this spring, but back trouble limited his exposure.

C Grayson Greiner - The Tigers entrusted Greiner with catching duties last year but he is fighting for a spot this year and may end up on the outside looking in because of subpar offense.

C Brady Policelli - During his time in West Michigan, Policelli quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his strange ability to play both behind the plate and at second base with capable offensive skills for the level. He’s not in play for a roster spot, but he is a reliable catcher.