| Detroit Free Press
What Detroit Tigers veteran catcher Dustin Garneau likes about pitching prospects
Detroit Tigers veteran catcher Dustin Garneau, on a minor-league deal with a camp invite, checks in Sunday, March 7, 2021, from spring training.
Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
LAKELAND, Fla. — With a couple of spots open in spring training, the Detroit Tigers decided to add two prospects into the mix.
Outfielder Parker Meadows and infielder Ryan Kreidler are coming to Tiger Town as members of the team’s minicamp in Lakeland. The 21-year-old Meadows — a second-round pick in the 2018 draft — is the No. 13 prospect in the farm system, according to MLB Pipeline.
Kreidler was picked in the fourth round of the 2019 draft from UCLA.
“Those two were next on the list, as driven by player development,” manager AJ Hinch said Sunday. “Al (Avila, general manager) made the decision, and we’re going to get them up and running. We’ll see Kreidler in a game probably faster than Meadows because we’re going to look for some infield coverage.
“But I met them both, and I’m anxious to see what they are and where they can factor in. And get their development underway.”
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Meadows — at 6 feet 5, 205 pounds — is speedy in the outfield and on the bases. He could be the most athletic prospect the Tigers have in the outfield, even more than 20-year-old Riley Greene.
Meadows’ brother, Austin Meadows, has three years of MLB experience with the Pittsburgh Pirates (2018) and Tampa Bay Rays (2018-20), batting .276 with 43 homers and 119 RBIs in 233 games.
Austin, now 25, was taken No. 9 overall in the 2013 draft by the Pirates.
“He’s been on prospect lists,” Hinch said about Parker. “He’s been fairly famous in the young player conversations around the game. He’s got a big brother to look up to, and he’s been around the game. I know he’s got tools. I know he’s got some skills.”
Meadows played 28 games in the 2018 season, hitting .290 with four homers and 10 RBIs between the Rookie Gulf Coast League (22 games) and Short Season-A Connecticut (six games). He struggled in Low-A West Michigan in 2019, succumbing to a .221 batting average, seven home runs and 40 RBIs in 126 games. He had 113 strikeouts compared to 47 walks.
The minors were canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Another good example of a guy that really suffered from the pandemic last year,” Hinch said. “There’s a lot of guys who struggle in their first full season, and then the next year, when you’re asked to make adjustments, there was no baseball for him. … He’s still got plenty of development left, but that’s why we’re all rooting for a minor-league season to get up and running successfully and safely, so guys like Parker can get back to work on his way to the big leagues.”
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After the Tigers’ off-day Monday, the team gets back into action Tuesday against the New York Yankees in Lakeland. For that game, right-hander Spencer Turnbull and lefty Daniel Norris will make their second appearances this spring.
On Wednesday, left-hander Matthew Boyd, lefty Tyler Alexander and right-hander Matt Manning are slated to get innings against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater. The Tigers face the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday in Dunedin and will use righty Michael Fulmer and left-hander Tarik Skubal.
Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays is expected to be a seven-inning contest.
Hinch released another noteworthy piece of information regarding right-hander Franklin Perez, who only pitched 27 innings across nine games between the 2018 and 2019 seasons because of injuries.
The 23-year-old, once ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the farm system, will make his spring training debut Wednesday. He has pitched numerous live batting practices, and Hinch ultimately decided he was ready for the next step in his progression.
“I know you guys have been patiently waiting,” Hinch said.
Outfielder Victor Reyes has been cleared to join the Tigers as a full participant. First baseman Renato Nunez is working out at the team’s facility, but he isn’t completely cleared to take part in full workouts or get into games.
Meanwhile, second baseman Jonathan Schoop is in Lakeland. He is beginning the COVID-19 intake screening process.
Outfielder Daz Cameron, the No. 7 prospect in the system, is going to take live batting practice — with Reyes and Nunez — early next week, Hinch said. The hope is he will be able to compete in games as the designated hitter.
“He’s getting closer to resuming activities,” Hinch said. “He’s doing a throwing program, but he’s not quite cleared to play the outfield. The at-bats will pick up a little bit toward the middle to later part of next week.”
The 24-year-old has been limited in spring training due to a right elbow injury he sustained while playing in Puerto Rico this winter. Cameron should be healthy for Opening Day, but could be destined for the alternate training site in Toledo.
“No surgery,” Hinch confirmed. “Just an injury.”