The rankings for the Detroit Tigers paints part of a bigger picture
In the preseason, Detroit Tigers fans were excited as Detroit had the 6th best minor league system according to Baseball America. Those rankings provide a quick dose of dopamine that the fanbase needed for the direction of the team in 2022. However, it did not provide the results perhaps the fans expected for this season.
This week, it was announced that the Tigers for the mid-season update at Baseball America fell to 27th while being 24th on ESPN’s list a few weeks back.($) Here is what Baseball America said about Detroit’s ranking:
“The Tigers have seen Riley Greene live up to expectations in the majors, while Spencer Torkelson struggled. The Tigers’ 2022 draft is promising, and players like Reese Olson, Garrett Hill and Kerry Carpenter have provided bright spots. But the system as a whole has consistently struggled to produce hitters who become MLB regulars.”
That assessment is correct. As a whole, the Tigers have not produced many hitters who have been 2.0 WAR players, which makes up according to Baseball Reference as an average player. There has been just a handful since 1995.
Speaking of the 90’s, former GM Randy Smith has one honor that no other Detroit Tigers GM has and that is organization of the year by Baseball America for their 1997 season. Smith got the Tigers up to date in terms of scouting and development. He was rewarded for his efforts, however, that never translated to winning seasons on the field.
Detroit Tigers have ways to go but..
If you ask Houston Astros fans of their new ranking at 26, they may say “who cares?” or take some measure of pride as they rose up two spots. But look at the results on the field. Newcomers Jeremy Pena and Chas McCormick have been steady all season for the 77-44 Astros. A vast majority of their starting rotation has been products of their system.
Detroit has had contributions this season mainly from their pitching. Garrett Hill, Beau Brieske, Matt Manning, just to name a few, have given the Tigers quality starts. Joe Jimenez, Gregory Soto and Jason Foley are also in the same category. However, the biggest glare has been the offense. Riley Greene has been struggling as of late and Torkelson is back in Toledo, working on his game.
Kerry Carpenter’s rise through to the minors to Detroit is worth consideration. After all, the odds of him reaching the major leagues were slim. He was drafted in the 19th round and until this season, was not on anyone’s radar as far as prospects go. But it goes beyond just Carpenter. Parker Meadows and Wenceel Perez down in Erie have had great seasons at the plate as well as Andre Lipcius. Ty Madden seems to be settling into Erie just fine. He has allowed just one run over his last two starts, spanning 11 innings.
But all you have to do is look to West Michigan and Lakeland for progress. Colt Keith and Izaac Pacheco could emerge as top 100 prospects. Prior to be hurt, Keith was hitting .301 with a WRC+ of 149. He just turned 21 last week, which is a good sign. Roberto Campos and Cristian Santana are also having good seasons with the Flying Tigers.
Should you be skeptical about whether they will develop into regulars at a big league level? Absolutely. No matter who the GM is next season, Detroit will have some ways to go. But take the prospect rankings with a grain of salt. Can you name one time in recent history that the Tigers have had contributions from the 10th round and below? I certainly can not remember. But it’s one step hopefully towards progress.