The recent promotions of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Isaac Paredes by the Detroit Tigers is hopefully the sign of a strong new force in the organization leading the club on a revitalizing path ahead.
For observers of the Detroit Tigers ball club, the hope is they will look back in a few years and note the adding of Casey Mize and the other two young premium talents were the day the road back to respectability truly started.
Mize and Skubal have yet to pitch 10 innings between them but it only takes a few frames to see their stuff has the chance to be electric at the major league level in ways Detroit pitchers of the recent vintage have not. Meanwhile, in one week’s worth of action Paredes has shown patience and confidence in working counts that indicate he’s mature beyond his still tender age of 21. There is something to work with there.
The building of a good baseball team has a true jumping-off point. This has the feel of one for the Tigers. It’s one thing to play around at the margins with Rule 5 draft picks or to resurrect a journeyman reliever from the scrap heap. Those are all necessary activities. But Detroit wasn’t going to truly start the emergence from Purgatory until the talent level was raised significantly.
It can be done in different ways. The Yankees had the “Core Four” emerge once upon a time. The Tigers used free agency to sign Pudge Rodriguez, Rondell White, and a few others to raise the talent level after 2003’s horror show to signal they were done being doormats followed by signing Magglio Ordonez and drafting Justin Verlander.
Make no mistake. There are still dark days ahead with multiple beatdowns. The Tigers roster is still fairly weak overall with an offense which is borderline ridiculous at times.
It just seems with the promotion of young talents who are meant to be true building blocks of a future contender, Tigers GM Al Avila can have the Tigers truly begin climbing out of the hole they’ve dug and head toward the light. Mize, Skubal, and Paredes indicate the club is climbing that ladder “rung by rung” instead “wrong by wrong”.
The promotions are far from the only things that need to happen. Paredes is no guarantee to pan out and he’s only one-ninth of a batting order if he does. The Tigers will need more waves of talent to emerge from their farm system. The good news is the farm system has been rising in the rankings and has ingredients needed to supply the talent.
Is Ilitch a Power Player or a Pretender?
However, more work needs to be done. The Tigers aren’t likely to grow the whole roster of a playoff club in-house. Avila’s trading acumen will eventually be put to the test. He needs to use whatever surplus talent he has to make moves to build a competent everyday lineup, unlike the ragtag crew they go to battle with each day presently.
Tigers owner Chris Ilitch’s ownership will be judged soon as well. Is he willing to follow through on his public statements that he would give Avila the resources needed to spend when the time is right? If Avila has an advantageous deal in place requiring the Tigers to take on salary will he be given a green light?
The Tigers will also need to dip into free agency eventually in at least a semi-serious fashion. They’ll need free agency to fill holes in the middle of the roster with big-league ready vets that plugin for prospects who miss the mark. But they might also need the one big splash move eventually to get the star that brings it all together.
Is Chris Ilitch all in to make this happen or is he a guy who just enjoys being at the owners’ meetings each winter? That’s a story yet to be written.
The Next Wave
Depending on health and effectiveness in Toledo at the training facility it stands to reason the Tigers will be moving as much of its young talent to the big club as it can over the next year.
Pitchers like Matt Manning and Alex Faedo may arrive yet this summer with much hope attached. The Tigers will hope at least one of its three players from the Verlander trade emerges at some point. Recent first overall selection Spencer Torkelson easily could be swinging the lumber in Comerica Park by mid-April in 2021. It wouldn’t surprise many if outfield prospect Riley Greene shows up later in that season.
Those are all fine young talents. Some will fulfill the promise. Some won’t. It’s then up to Avila to shop for the rest with the blessing from Ilitch to maximize the search’s reach.
Will the week of August 17th, 2020 be the time where it’s thought the turnaround in the Motor City’s baseball fortunes started? The guarantees are few. But the talent influx is hard to deny. It’s a new time for dreaming of what could be versus lamenting how things are.