Saying the Detroit Tigers have been disappointing as of late is an understatement. The team has a combined 393 – 507 (.436) record since the teams last playoff appearance in 2014 (not including 2021), where they lost in the ALDS. The Tigers in that time, however, had a very talented prospect core. The team has plenty of talent and many are expected to make debuts soon.
Starting with it all we need to look at the man making the decisions, General Manager Al Avila. Avila has a very love/hate relationship with Tigers fans. Avila chooses to not spend but also does well in the draft. When it comes to trading, Avila is not the best as many of his trades have turned out poor for the Tigers. Let’s take a look at some of Avila’s notable trades in his time as the Tigers GM:
- Acquired INF Dawel Lugo, INF Sergio Alcantara, and INF Jose King from the Arizona Diamondbacks for OF J.D. Martinez
- Lugo appeared in 9 games for DET and now plays in the Mexican Baseball League. Alcantara was released in early 2021 and has been a great addition for the Cubs batting .290/.343/.742 with two HR, four RBI’s, and three triples. Jose King was released less than a year later.
- Acquired INF Jeimer Canderlario and SS Isaac Paredes from the Chicago Cubs for LHP Justin Wilson and C Alex Avila
- Candelario, was CHI #1 Prospect and has been the Tigers starting 3B since 2017. In 2021 he’s batting .266/.336/.717 with 4 HR, 18 RBI, and 13 2B in 218 AB. Candelario will likely be the teams starting 3B across from 2020 first overall pick Spencer Torkelson for years to come. Paredes has been a strong piece in the Tigers farm system and is growing into a nice platoon bat. With his ability to play 3B, SS, and 2B he is a nice depth piece sitting in Toledo.
- Acquired RHP Grayson Long and Elvin Rodriguez from the Los Angeles Angels for OF Justin Upton
- Long hasn’t appeared in an MiLB game since 2017 and Rodriguez has been a solid addition to the Tigers farm system but has a long way to go before he sees the MLB. Rodriguez has a 2.0 ERA and a 1.175 WHIP in 5 games with 22.1 IP and 25 K to 9 BB with 10 H allowed in 2021 with Erie.
- Acquired RHP Franklin Perez, OF Daz Cameron, and C Jake Rodgers from the Houston Astros for RHP Justin Verlander
- Perez hasn’t pitched since 2019 as he deals with an injury that will hold him out of the 2021 season but hasn’t appeared in a game above A+ Western Michigan. Daz Cameron made his MLB debut in 2020 and has batted .171/.205/.477 in 70 AB with the Tigers. Cameron is the team’s 8th ranked prospect and has a future but he still needs time to develop his bat. Rodgers has been the Tigers backup catcher since his debut in 2019 and has seen an improved swing and still bolsters his elite defense which will keep him around the Tigers for a while.
- Acquired RHP Paul Richan and Alex Lange from the Chicago Cubs for OF Nick Castellanos.
- Richan is the Tigers 30th ranked prospect and is stuck in AA Erie and hasn’t been able to move to AAA in a while. Richan has a long way to go before he makes an impact on the Tigers. Lange is the Tigers 25th ranked prospect and a part of the teams 2021 MLB Bullpen but has been rather disappointing in 17 games only pitching 15.2 IP with 20 K and eight BB but a 6.89 ERA.
Avila has been spoty with his trades but most have either returned little to no impact or in one case returned a valued starter. Meanwhile JD Martinez and Nick Castellanos have turned into stars for their new teams, the Red Sox and Reds respectively. Castellanos is likely in line to earn the NL MVP if he continues on his projection for this season batting .361/.416/.635 with 13 HR, 36 RBI, and 23 2B in 233 AB. The Tigers, outside of these botched trades, have still managed to assemble a very talented farm system. Former top prospects RHP Casey Mize and LHP Tarik Skubal have both made their MLB debuts and are a part of the Tigers rotation. Mize has a 3-7 record with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.182 WHIP in 99 IP in 12 Games, with 85 K to 35 BB. At only 24 he is on pace to be a legit All-Star and potential CY Young Arm for the Tigers in the rotation along with Spencer Turnbull, who notably tossed a no hitter earlier this year in May. In addition to Mize the Tigers have Tarik Skubal who was selected in the 9th round of the 2018 MLB Draft. He has appeared in 21 games for Detroit registering a 4-11 record, a 1.380 WHIP, 4.79 ERA, and a 111/40 K to BB ratio. Skubal, like Mize, has a large future in the Tigers rotation. Both will be anchors in the rotation for years to come.
The Tigers have a ton of talent in the farm system but it can be viewed as top heavy. The team’s top prospect, 2020 1st overall selection INF Spencer Torkelson was just promoted to AA Erie along with 4th ranked prospect C Dillon Dingler. Torkelson is likely to make his MLB debut in 2022 and will be a key part for the Tigers. He is easily one of the most exciting prospects in all of baseball, with top end power and great contact Torkelson has potential to be the future face of baseball, he started slow in Western Michigan but turned it around mashing a .312/.440/.559 line with 34 H, 11 2B, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 3 SB, and a 1.009 OPS in 109 PA. Dillon Dingler also crushed it in high-A posting a .287/.376/.549 line with 35 H, 6 2B, 8 HR, and 24 RBI in 122 AB. Dingler was selected with the 38th overall selection out of Ohio State and is projected to make his debut in 2023 but if time continues on and Dingler continues to crush the ball and he keeps up his elite defensive work he should make his debut with Torkelson in 2022. Another prospect the Tigers have high hopes for and should see the MLB in 2022 is former 2019 fifth overall pick OF Riley Greene (ranked second in the system). Greene will likely see a call up to AAA Toledo in the coming month but at the moment to say he’s been elite in Erie is an understatement. Greene is slashing .256/.364/.434 with 33 H, two doubles, a triple, sicx HR, 21 RBI, and seven stolen bases in 129 PA. At the moment, Tigers fans will get to see what the future looks like simply by turning on any Erie game where they can watch three of the team’s top four prospects.
The third ranked prospect in the Tigers system is RHP Matt Manning, who should see his call up to the “Show” in 2021. Manning has struggled with giving up the long ball while in Toledo but has a good future if he can continue showing the consistency he recently has. He likely will be a part of the Tigers future in the rotation with Turnbull, Mize, and Skubal. The question comes outside of Manning with the pitching room. The Tigers have LHP Joey Wentz (sixth) and RHP Alex Faedo (ninth) as the remaining top 10 prospects but both are taking a lot longer to develop then expected. Wentz is stuck playing A baseball, while former first round pick Alex Faedo hasn’t appeared in a game since 2019 due to Tommy John and won’t play till the start of 2022. Other top Tigers prospects include OF prospects Daniel Cabrera, who the team selected in the second round of the 2022 draft. Cabrera has high power and elite athletic ability. Cabrera is expected to make his debut in 2023. Other top OF prospects include Parker Meadows who like Cabrera will appear in 2023. Both have potential to be cornerstones of the Tigers outfield with Riley Greene but it is a tough fight as the team also has current MLB rostered Derek Hill (29) and Daz Cameron (eighth) along with Rule 5 pick Akil Baddoo. Hill and Baddoo have impressed in the MLB and Cameron has been disappointing but is still young and will need time but has potential to be a key part of the team. The Tigers also have rookie Roberto Campos who is a very raw athlete but has great power and with time could be a part of the future. Outside of that the Tigers have youth and talent such as 3B/1B Gage Workman (11, 2023), 2B Kody Clemons (13, 2021), SS Trei Cruz (13, 2023), OF Bryant Packard (19, 2022), and RHP Paul Richan (30, 2021). Some of the Tigers top prospects have already made a debut in the MLB but are going to take time. The team has an elite pitching coach in Chris Fetter which gives them hope for players such as Jason Foley (26), Alex Lange (24), Zack Hess (23), and Beau Burrows (22). All of them but Hess have made their debut in the MLB. Lastly, the Tigers hired former Astros manager A.J Hinch, who despite controversy is a very talented manager. Hinch most notably is best when it comes to making an impact by finding, developing, and getting the most out of his prospects, the Tigers have three prospects in the top 20 around the league with Spencer Torkelson sliding in at 3rd, Riley Greene at 16, and Matt Manning 19th. C Dillon Dingler and OF Daniel Cabrera could sneak their way onto the list soon between 90-99