FanPost

Anyone else excited about Wenceel Perez?

Jonathan Schoop has been a great player for the team. Really! He has been solid defensively - if not the best in the business, and he's had some offensive pop. Although last season he had a dramatic drop off in hitting, he still had some thump in his bat and was a flexible player willing to play wherever assigned by AJ Hinch.

With that being said, he's on the last year of his contract, and I just don't see him remaining with the team past next season. It's entirely possible he is the starting second baseman, and that's that, but I wonder if Wenceel Perez might steal the job in spring training and force the Tigers to consider trading or using Schoop as their utility player rather than Perez.

Perez had a pretty good year offensively and remains a solid defensive player capable of playing multiple infield positions. His offense looked like it took a jump last year as his slash line improved as he was promoted from high A to Erie AA. At high A his slash line was .286 .364 .529 and .894 representing BA OBP Slugging and OPS. At Erie it moved up to .307 .374 .540 and .914. In total he hit 23 doubles, 10 triples, and 14 home runs. Furthermore, he swiped 18 bases.

I think the big news last season was his improved home run power, however at 5-11 203 lbs it doesn't seem like it should be much of surprise that he packs a punch. The consistent on base percentage coupled with speed and fielding prowess though starts to put him in a class as having the whole package. Since he just turned 23 at the end of October it seems likely he's primed for an important year of progression in 2023.

It might be premature to pencil him as the team's starting second baseman so quickly, but a great spring might give him a chance and since he's a switch hitter it seems that aspect alone is appealing to have on board a team that has struggled offensively. Schoop may regain his prior season's stroke to lay solid claim from when the team breaks camp this spring, but if he struggles in the spring similar to how he hit last season, a change might be prompted. Of course another option is that Schoop could wind up playing first base if Torkelson doesn't wow in the spring.

I've hoped that Jose Abreau might be signed to push Torkelson to the minors no matter how good his spring is. I think psychologically it would be beneficial for Tork to have to force his way back up to the majors by building confidence hammering minor league pitching. If Abreau isn't signed then perhaps Schoop can play a similar role as a bridge for Tork to play his way up, but Abreau is by far the more certain hitter than Schoop. Regardless if Schoop moves to first, I tend to believe he might hit better than by playing his regular position. In 2021 Schoop platooned with Cabrera at first and had a very solid year I think due in part by the move to first to put him into what most perceive as a hitter's position.

Perez may need the time to further hew his skills at AAA before being promoted, but I really am hopeful that we will see him playing second in Detroit before mid-season. Again a great spring might catapult him to Detroit immediately and allow the Tigers to shift Schoop for awhile to first and avoid procuring Abreau.

Anyone else excited about the prospect of Perez becoming our full time second baseman in 2023? Are others more enamored with Schoop? What about moving Schoop to third base? Adding Abreau then could be still in play. If Schoop returned to batting .270 with an OBP of .320 would that be good enough for him to hold the third base job rather than letting Ryan Kriedler get some time in there?

As I consider moving Schoop around the horn I can't shake the feeling that it just makes sense to use him in a utility role and to develop younger talent. If Schoop hits you want another bat to pick up slack for whatever position isn't hitting, and his defensive prowess can be put to the maximum use. It's also part of the chess game that the Tigers need to use to optimize the development of their young players without completely sacrificing being more competitive.

Here's how my infield would look and work:

1B - Abreau first 50 games full-time, and over the next 112 games Torkelson would ideally earn the promotion to reclaim the position, allowing Abreau to primarily be a DH. Since he's a right hand hitter he helps to add a force on this side of the plate too. If Schoop or Kriedler haven't factored in as being solid hitters it's also possible to imagine, if Torkelson is on a solid hitting terror, to move him to third base as Avila had hoped he could do.

2B - Perez from the get go after spring training earns the full time job. Schoop becomes the utility man extraodinaire and is a sub handling 1B, 2B, 3B, and SS duties spread out to give some down time to whatever player AJ Hinch wants to rest. This transition of course might not happen until Torkelson is called up, if both youngsters do well to force the issue. This scenario then depends on Schoop not laying claim to second but being a player the Tigers can be used optimally as the utilityman, or that is needed more at third base.

3B - If Kriedler has a good spring, I think he can earn the full time job. Ibanez is in the wings too lurking for a chance. Lastly, as I've mentioned if neither of the aforementioned two stakes a claim in the spring but Perez is doing everything to earn the second base job, then perhaps Schoop is asked to move here until such time Kriedler perhaps heats up, or Torkelson is a consideration to keep Abreau in the lineup.

SS - Baez seems to have been promised the full time job here no matter what transpires. It seems reasonable based on how much potentially he could bring to the Tigers if he regains his top prowess. Of course, the Tigers would seem to have adequate reserves to provide sufficient rest or coverage for injury.

Summarizing - Ideal scenario to start the season: 1B Abreau, 2B Perez, 3B Kriedler, SS Baez, DH Cabrera/Carpenter U Schoop; mid-season 1B Torkelson, 2B Perez, 3B Kriedler, SS Baez, DH Abreau/Carpenter, U Schoop.

What do you think?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.