Today, the Tigers trimmed five players from their Spring Training roster. None of the cuts are surprising in any way, but there can still be some information gleaned from them.
Tigers assign SS Dixon Machado and C Ramon Cabrera to Class Double A-Erie
- There was some scuttlebutt over the offseason about how Machado needed to repeat Class A Advanced-Lakeland to work on his bat, and how subsequently Eugenio Suarez would skip Lakeland and go right to Erie. I disagreed with that assessment at the time, disagreed with it when I did my Lakeland/Erie season previews, and today proved my suspicions to be correct. Machado will go to Erie and play everyday SS there, as he should be. The glove, arm, and speed are pretty much already major league ready, but he has a lot of work to do with the bat. Reports out of spring training have indicated that Machado showed up bigger, stronger, and therefore able to generate more bat speed, and the results showed. He looked better with the bat this spring, and while it was a ridiculously small sample size, it's encouraging nonetheless.
-Ramon Cabrera was assigned to Erie as well, which is somewhat of a surprise to me. I had him pegged for Triple A-Toledo, but he'll head to AA. This leaves only 1 projected catcher for AAA (Bryan Holaday), so I'm wondering what the Tigers plan to do with the other catcher's spot there. There's a few org guys who could take the roster spot (Murrian, Sanz) so that's not really an issue, but I'm really curious as to what will happen with McCann and Casali now. I had them both pegged for Erie, but obviously the Tigers won't have 3 catchers on that roster. I'd assume McCann goes to Erie, while Casali goes back to Lakeland, but we'll see.
Tigers assign RHP Melvin Mercedes to Class Advanced A-Lakeland
-This is a move that should surprise no one. Mercedes has a relatively high ceiling as a late innings reliever, but needs to improve his command and probably his conditioning as well (he has officially surpassed Rondon as "heftiest" relief prospect). He's had 2 good years at West Michigan, and pitched really well down the stretch at Lakeland last year, so the stage is set for him to make a big leap in 2013. If he shows late-innings stuff while reigning in his command some, he could vault through the system and position himself for a bullpen spot as soon as next spring.
Tigers assign OF Daniel Fields and SS Eugenio Suarez to minor league camp
-Again, neither move should surprise here. Fields wasn't going to make the team, and with Berry and Boesch both finally back from injury, the outfield had become overcrowded. He'll almost assuredly be sent to Erie when camp breaks. Suarez, as a result of the Machado assignment, looks pegged to head to Lakeland. As I stated above, this is the move I would have made as well. Suarez is undoubtedly the most "complete" SS prospect in the system, but my opinion based off what I saw in 2012 (in addition to the opinion's of scouts I've spoken to since then) was that while Suarez was certainly ready for AA defensively, the bat wasn't ready yet.