The rebuilding Detroit Tigers find themselves in a position they have not enjoyed in about a decade. They finally have a farm system that gives the future a helping of hope. A farm system full of legitimate prospects that has the organization teeming with excitement about the future.
Years of contending and spending left the club with little down on the farm. For years, the Tigers minor league system was devoid of any prospects that made you drool. Or, at the very least, stand up and take notice.
The recent purge of veterans has changed the future outlook quite considerably over the last eight months.
Let’s be honest, no one wants to trade away legitimate big league stars. J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler and Justin Verlander were the bedrocks of teams that were supposed to contend for a title. They had the contracts to prove it. They just couldn’t get it done.
From a fan’s perspective, getting these horses to big leagues as soon as possible would be ideal. From and organization’s standpoint, not so much. Here comes that word that we’ve all been waiting for: patience.
It’s easy to look at a minor leaguer’s numbers and declare him ready for the big leagues. Just last year, folks were clamoring for Joe Jimenez to get the call to Detroit. On April 13th, we got our wish. Jimenez threw a clean 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Twins, and we said, “I told you so.”
But, in his next 10 outings, his ERA ballooned to over 14.00. He wasn’t ready.
Those that closely watched Jimenez in the minor league wanted him to get more seasoning, but out of necessity he was promoted and the results were not what was hoped for.
This spring, Jimenez looks much different. His mid-90’s fastball is complimented by an improved slider. New pitching coach Chris Bosio tweaked his grip. He has lost weight and looks like he’s ready to rock.
I am using Jimenez as an example of how we should probably temper our expectations about the next wave of talented arms on the horizon. Not necessarily expectations about skill level, instead date of arrival.
It is unlikely we will see any of the young arms surface in the Comerica Park home clubhouse any time soon. In fact, 2019 is pushing it as well.
The Tigers have an opportunity here to sculpt their next contender. Selecting first in the upcoming June draft will further improve and improving system. However, I can promise you the club will exercise a great deal of patience with the cadre of arms they have knocking o the door. Perez and Manning are both 20 years-old. Burrows is 21 and Faedo 22, There will be no rushing.
The future potential of the pitching staff is through the roof, especially if you add the name Kyle Funkhouser to the above arsenal.
The same strategy will probably be employed with the skilled position players in the system. Rogers (21), Stewart (24) and Cameron (21) will be properly seasoned before they reach the big leagues.
The Tigers have some time to develop these pieces with a rebuild in full swing. You can take it to the bank that they will employ as much patience as necessary. No matter how quickly we want to rush them.