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Tigers add five prospects to the 40-man roster

There are a few surprises here as Scott Harris choose to keep just about everyone.

Glendale Desert Dogs v. Salt River Rafters Photo by Jerry Kime/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Tigers have made their final adjustments to the 40-man roster, and we have a surprise or two. They had plenty of possibilities for players to cut, but we didn’t expect them to add five prospects to the roster, protecting just about everyone from the Rule 5 draft.

RHP Reese Olson was no surprise, as one of the Tigers top pitching prospects who conquered the Double-A level in 2022. OF Parker Meadows likewise was a lock to be protected after a nice breakout year finally saw him regain some status as a very promising prospect with a lot of upside. Speedy second baseman Wenceel Perez finally put the slap hitter reputation behind him with swing and approach changes leading to a nice breakout in the power department this season. He’s always had good contact ability and plate discipline, but the addition of more line drives, fly balls, and power production really boosted his stock in 2022.

One minor surprise was that third baseman Andre Lipcius was also protected. Lipcius is the type of prospect that managers and coaches tend to appreciate. He’s not that versatile, but he’s a solid hitter with good discipline and a team leader. Lipcius plays a pretty solid third base and can handle second base to a degree as well, and he does get on base quite a bit, posting a .390 OPB combined between Double-A and Triple-A in 2022. He just hasn’t shown enough power to likely ever start in the major leagues at the hot corner. Personally I wasn’t convinced there was enough upside there to worry about losing him, but the Tigers clearly feel differently.

The Tigers also chose to protect RHP Brendan White, while leaving hard-throwing reliever RHP Elvis Alvarado exposed to the draft. White has a good breaking ball and put together a solid 2022 campaign at the Double-A level after converting to relief full-time. White, another late rounder, was selected in 2019 in the 26th round. He tossed 67.1 innings for the Erie SeaWolves this season, posting a 2.67 ERA and a 2.94 FIP. He’s close enough to major league ready that it’s understandable that the Tigers would protect him, and it’s a strong sign of confidence that they believe he can help the bullpen in 2023. The fastball still needs a little tuning to be ready for major league work, in my opinion.

Alvarado has a huge fastball and an interesting angle, but is still a work in progress. After a year in the Tigers’ system perhaps they just aren’t seeing his command come together in the near-term. As we know, most Rule 5 selections end up back with their original team. The Tigers claimed Alvarado from the Seattle Mariners in the 2021 Rule 5 draft’s minor league portion, which was held despite the major league portion getting cancelled by the owner lockout of players during CBA negotiations.

The cuts, as it turns out, weren’t too painful. RHP Kyle Funkhouser, who is still trying to work his way back from shoulder injuries that cost him the 2022 season, was designated for assignment along with RHP Miguel Diaz, OF Brendon Davis, and C Michael Papierski.

In one last corresponding move, LHP Sean Guenther cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers claimed him just two weeks ago from the Miami Marlins.

So far, the likes of Kody Clemens, Zack Short, Willi Castro, and Harold Castro have managed to stick around. As the Tigers make deals this offseason that will change, but for now all four remain in the organization.

The Tigers also acquired left-handed hitting outfielder Steele Walker from the San Francisco Giants for cash considerations. The 26-year-old is presumably a favorite of Scott Harris’ and has both speed and serious plus raw power. However, he hasn’t shown the ability to get to that power in-game, so hopefully someone has an idea for some adjustments to his swing and approach.