Detroit Tigers reveal plan, first assignment for top prospect Jackson Jobe in 2022 season

Detroit Free Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — Detroit Tigers pitching prospect Jackson Jobe is starting his professional career in Low-A Lakeland and will face inning limits early in the season with the goal of pitching into September.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander, drafted No. 3 overall in 2021, arrived in Lakeland for minor-league minicamp in mid-February. Jobe, 19, transitioned to minor-league spring training in early March and is on a five-day throwing schedule.

So far, Jobe has impressed.

“With Jackson, he’s doing great,” Ryan Garko, the Tigers’ vice president of player development, told the Free Press on Sunday. “He’s spent most of the camp adjusting to professional life and a professional pitcher’s routine. It’s interesting, he’s the only prep pitcher we took last year, so he doesn’t have any peers in the same situation.”

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Each pitch in Jobe’s arsenal — four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider and changeup — has the foundation to be a plus-pitch in the big leagues, though Jobe has a long way to go and a lot to learn before making his MLB debut.

As a senior for Heritage Hall High in Oklahoma City last season, Jobe posted a 9-0 record with a 0.13 ERA, five walks and 122 strikeouts over 51⅔ innings. He tossed a pair of no-hitters, led Heritage Hall to a state championship and was named Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year.

Jobe is the Tigers’ No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and the No. 40 prospect in baseball. He should be the Tigers’ No. 1 prospect soon, considering first baseman Spencer Torkelson (No. 1) and outfielder Riley Greene (No. 2) are on track for their MLB debuts in 2022.

One National League scout, in a detailed conversation with the Free Press, said Jobe has the potential to be “the No. 1 starter in the big leagues on a championship team.”

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The Tigers, with more than a month of evaluation, seem to agree. Jobe has worked closely with director of pitching Gabe Ribas, who came to the organization in October, one month after Garko joined the Tigers to spearhead the player development department.

The consensus: Jobe’s talent is real.

“The stuff on the mound has been as advertised,” Garko said. … “Overall, he’s been as advertised, works hard and asks great questions. It’s been a very worthwhile month for him this first spring.”

But Jobe’s first spring training, despite his success, included a setback in his progress. He caught the stomach flu that spread around minor-league camp and missed about six days.

“We’re still rebuilding from that,” Garko said. “He lost a little weight and came back needing to rebuild some stamina.”

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Since Jobe is set to begin his career in Low-A Lakeland, the prized right-hander could start April 8 for the Flying Tigers on Opening Day against the Tampa Tarpons, an affiliate of the New York Yankees.

Right now, Garko thinks it’s too soon to tell if Jobe — recovering from his bout with the flu — will be ready for his first scheduled start. Coming back from the stomach bug, Garko said, is the only reason for his potential delay.

“He’ll be a Lakeland Flying Tiger as soon as he’s ready after that little flu rebuild,” Garko said. “The goal is to keep him pitching until September, so there will be some innings limits built in early to preserve him into the summer.”

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold

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