With the Super Bowl wrapping up football season, the attention now turns to Lakeland, Florida, as the Detroit Tigers have pitchers and catchers reporting this week. One area President of Baseball Operations Scott Harris addressed this off-season was catching depth. Currently, on the 40-man roster, the Tigers have Eric Haase, Jake Rogers and the recently acquired Donny Sands. Rogers is coming back from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2022 season.
Haase enters camp clearly as the number one catcher for the first time in a Tigers uniform. He was one of just two Tigers position players who produced 2 WAR last season, joining Javier Baez. To some, if you look at the numbers closely, he has something to prove. He cut his strikeout rate from 31% to 27% but still needs to bump up his average against righties, (.239) to go along with the power he displayed against them (10 home runs).
Rogers was figuring out things at the plate in his last 25 games of 2021. He sported a .910 OPS and was hitting for extra base power. If Rogers can pick up where he left off with good defense, Detroit can expect a better return. Last season, Tucker Barnhart finished the season with a WAR of just 0.1. While that is not asking for very much, Harris is looking for the right combo.
Even on the minor league signing front, the Tigers signed four veterans; Mario Feliciano, Julio E. Rodriguez, Andrew Knapp and Micheal Papierski. While all lack an offensive profile, they will hold the fort down while Tigers fans await to see the prospect of a pair of SeaWolves.
Detroit Tigers prospects to watch: Dillon Dingler and Josh Crouch
Crouch made a name for himself last season by jumping three levels in one season. Recently, we sat down with Crouch, who didn’t start catching until late into his college career, on his approach at the plate. In addition, he takes pride in his defense, as he was named to the Midwest League All-Star Team for his defensive abilities.
For Dingler, over the last several seasons, he has struggled with a few nagging injuries, and a high strikeout rate (31% in Double-A) but walked around a 10% clip. So this season will be one to watch if he stays consistent and makes another step towards a major league roster spot.