Lakeland, Fla. — If you get to the yard early enough, you can catch the Tigers’ most recent No. 1 draft pick strolling through the parking lot, past the players’ dorms and down the short road to the minor league clubhouse. Usually he’s alone, head down, cup of coffee (presumably) in hand, not in any particular hurry, just heading in for work.
From the sound of it, Jackson Jobe might as well get used to the routine. It’s apparently not changing any time soon.
Speaking to the media Sunday in Sarasota prior to the Tigers’ 5-4 spring loss to the Orioles, manager AJ Hinch indicated Jobe, the 19-year-old right-handed pitcher the club took with the third overall pick last July, might not be immediately assigned to an affiliate.
“He’s just learning how to be a pro,” Hinch said. “He’s been on a five-day (throwing) schedule, the first time he’s ever done that. He’s a young kid trying to find his way as a 19-year-old in a very crowded minor league system.”
Hinch said Jobe made a start last week against the Phillies on the back fields, but mostly he’s working bullpens and throwing in the smart cage.
“The plan for him is to master his pitches first, before he necessarily worries about the competition,” Hinch said. “Building a foundation for him is really important. Whether he breaks or not (with a minor league team) will be determined over the next week.”
No room at the inn
With nine games left in the Grapefruit League, infielder Isaac Paredes can conceivably still hit his way onto the Opening Day roster. But the odds grow longer with each passing day.
“I feel for him,” Hinch told reporters before the game. “He’s demonstrated he can handle the upper levels of the minor leagues. The next step is an opportunity and we don’t necessarily have everyday opportunities at the Major League level that are guaranteed.”
Paredes went 0-for-2 Sunday and is hitting .182 this spring. He was hit on the right hand with a pitch in the sixth inning and left the game with head athletic trainer Doug Teter. Hinch told reporters after the game that Paredes will have more tests on Monday, but the initial prognosis was good.
“He’s looking to see what kind of impact he can have at this level,” Hinch said. “But it’s pretty crowded right now and he’s well-aware of that. But he’s a good player and there’s a lot of things he can bring to a winning club.
“Where he fits is going to be determined over the next week.”
As it looks now, the starting infield appears set with Spencer Torkelson at first, Jonathan Schoop at second, Javy Báez and shortstop and Jeimer Candelario at third. Harold Castro appears set to be the primary utility infielder.
The best chance Paredes has of winning a spot is if Hinch decides to keep a position player with one of the two extra roster spots to start the season. But even then, the Tigers would probably opt to send him to Triple-A Toledo so he could get regular at-bats, as opposed to playing maybe once or twice a week for the first month of the season.
Tyler Alexander made his second start of the spring and pitched well. He was on his way to three clean inning when Jack Lopez’s error on a potential double-play ball extended the third inning and led to an unearned run. The only hit Alexander allowed in 2.2 innings was a pop-up that fell between a couple of infielders.
… Lopez, who played the outfield in his most recent games, made three errors at shortstop Sunday. Lopez was informed on Saturday that he would not be breaking with the big-league club.
… Late-inning reliever Jose Cisnero pitched a quick and clean inning in his first Grapefruit League outing. He was aided by a terrific catch at the wall by Victor Reyes. Reyes, by the way, ripped an RBI double.
…The Tigers must’ve had something on Orioles pitcher Jordan Lyles. They stole three bases off of him and catcher Jacob Nottingham — Derek Hill stole second, Ryan Kreidler stole third and Torkelson stole second.
… Reliever Miguel Diaz, fighting for one of the last bullpen spots, had a rough fourth inning. He gave up back-to-back home runs to Ramon Urias and Robinson Chirinos.