There is currently an eerie silence in Detroit after the Tigers’ series with the St. Louis Cardinals was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak for the latter. So instead of playing ball, the boys in the Old English D got a few days off in the interim, though there has still been plenty of activity off the field to talk about.
As the team prepares for its next series starting on Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, there has been a bit of a buzz surrounding the franchises top prospects, with the topic of Casey Mize and his inevitable major league debut dominating the discussion. But it is not just Mize who has been on the minds of many baseball prognosticators.
Five Tigers featured in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects
MLB Pipeline released its latest top 100 prospects list on Tuesday night which, featuring five Tigers — four of whom are among the past five first-round selections by the club —establishes the developmental system as possibly the best in the majors.
The only significant change was the addition of top draft pick Spencer Torkelson, who now headlines the team’s prospect list at No. 7 overall, just one tick above another former No. 1 selection Casey Mize, who sits at No. 8 on the overall list. Otherwise, the ratings are virtually unaltered from the last update in January, with Matt Manning coming in at No. 26, Riley Greene at No. 33 and Tarik Skubal taking the tail at No. 51.
MLP Pipeline also released its team-specific prospect rankings for the Tigers, with Isaac Paredes, Willi Castro, Daz Cameron, recently-drafted Dillon Dingler and Joey Wentz rounding out the top 10.
Boyd wants Mize in the majors
Over the past week there has been a loud clamor from the Tigers’ fanbase for Casey Mize to get his call up to the big league team. But it is not just the Detroit faithful who want him to brought up to the majors — the team’s incumbent ace pitcher Matthew Boyd also wants to see him in on the mound for the Motor City Kitties.
Boyd believes that Mize is ready for The Show and can also provide an appreciable contribution to the team’s efforts. He offered the following take on the young hurler.
“When a guy of his caliber puts on our uniform, I know everybody’s gonna be excited. It’s gonna be fun, whenever it is. Keep in mind, remember, he’s a rookie. So there’s a lot that comes with that. He’s talented, he’s going to help us win. Whenever that time is right, we’ll cross that bridge.”
One of the issues the former first-rounder is facing is the decreasing active roster size, which will be whittled down from 30 players to just 28 as soon as Thursday for some teams and will remain that number until the end of play this year. The Tigers currently have 29 players on its roster, so one more player — likely Dawel Lugo or Jeimer Candelario — will have to be sent to Toledo before any more moves can be made.
It is still possible Mize will make his way up, given that the Tigers have two more roster slots available than they would have during a normal summer campaign, but nothing is certain in this coronavirus-ridden season.
Speaking of COVID-19, unlike a few teams in the league, the Detroit Tigers have done a great job keeping the virus at bay, and manager Ron Gardenhire attributes it to a very simple concept: respect. The grizzled veteran skipper only asks the following of his players.
“Your responsibilities as a player are to your family and this baseball family. You have to take care of yourself off the field and do the right things.”
In response to Gardenhire’s simple, yet sage request team leader Matthew Boyd offered the following.
“We can take care of ourselves. We can take care of our business. We can be vigilant in what we’re doing. And, in that, continue down that path and do the best that we can as a team both on and off the field.”
So far, the approach is working, not just on the level of prophylaxis but also in team-building and bringing the club closer together — while also social distancing. You can hear the words straight from the horse’s mouth in the video below.
Around the horn
St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina says he’s one of the players on the team who tested positive for COVID-19. Shohei Ohtani is unlikely to pitch again this season after suffering a Grade 1-2 strain of the flexor pronator mass. MLB’s 2020 Field of Dreams game between the White Sox and the Cardinals has been canceled. ESPN gives its “not as early-as-you-think” hot takes and bold predictions. Have the Cleveland Indians become an ace pitching factory?