Around the Tigers’ farm: Detroit insists Jackson Jobe doing as expected in 2022

Detroit News

Not always great, those pitching lines typically etched this spring and summer by the Tigers’ lightning-rod for Draft Day second-guesses, Jackson Jobe.

And not always bad. Especially for a man who later this week turns 20 and who a year out of high school has been pitching at low-A Lakeland.

On the season, Jobe, who was snagged with last year’s third pick in the MLB Draft, has a plump 4.93 ERA and equally hefty 1.40 WHIP. Batters are hitting .259 against him, with a .340 on-base average — and a .800 OPS.

You hear whispers, also, about how his stuff has “backed up” in 2022 — a full-decibel siren-blare that suggests Jobe already is losing the edge that spurred the Tigers to wade into a white-water realm, steel themselves, ignore the peril, and gamble on a a prep pitcher.

Or, maybe things aren’t so ominous.

“Honestly, any metric you want to look at — his velocity’s the same (94-97) — and with some of the other stats they’re even better than in high school,” said Ryan Garko, who heads player development for the Tigers.

“He has better ride on his four-seamer (fastball). He’s added a sinker he didn’t have. His slider is a major-league pitch right now. Not many guys throw a slider with that much horizontal break, or that much spin, or with that much bite. And his change-up is about the same.”

If the numbers are fringy, they stand in bewildering contrast to the manner in which Jobe torched hitters of all extractions during his prep days at Heritage Hall High in Oklahoma City.

Uh, yes, Garko acknowledged — true, all of it. And there just might be a reason.

“Hey, we could have been conservative and put him in extended,” Garko said, and by “extended,” he meant the usual path for teenage rookies: sticking them at extended spring camp once the bigger boys move on, ahead of a summer stint in the Florida Complex League hatchery.

“But we chose to bring him to Lakeland (Single A) and challenge him. He’s 19 now (20 on Saturday). The league average there is 20, 21 years old. So, he’s facing better, older hitters.

“He’s had good outings and bad. Every pitcher has ups and downs. We just kind of knew it would be like this in his first year. But everything’s kind of been where we expected.”

More: Henning: Tigers have plan for Torkelson: Get that old bat aggression back

Carpenter’s capacities

He hit big at Double A Erie.

Now, he’s hitting even better at Triple A.

Kerry Carpenter is the Tigers’ most irrepressible prospect from 2022, a left-handed masher who in a combined 82 games at two levels is batting .311/.376/.646/1.022.

He has 26 home runs. He is 24, an outfielder (or first base/DH), and a 19th-round pick in 2019 from Virginia Tech.

Since he was ordered to Toledo a month ago, Carpenter in 19 games has four homers and is batting .339. On the year, he is hitting .303 against right-handers, .338 against lefties.

One hang-up: He will not be appearing on any Gold Glove ballots should he make it to Detroit. Not that the Tigers are overly concerned.

His manager at Toledo is Lloyd McClendon, a former MLB outfielder and good right-handed stick who remembers joining the Cubs in May, 1989, and immediately botching a play in left field. Later that game, McClendon hit a three-run homer.

McClendon later apologized for his gaffe, which didn’t result in an error but was a screw-up nonetheless.

“Just keep hitting those three-run homers,” manager Don Zimmer told him. “We’ll make a hell of a left-fielder out of you.”

McClendon can live with Carpenter’s version of defense when the bat has been so steady.

“He’s a player,” McClendon said. “He just keeps hitting.”

Unnoticed at Toledo?

His name is Brendon Davis. And if Tigers students are a bit fuzzy, it’s because Davis, 24, and a right-handed hitting third baseman, has been with the organization for all of 60 days, after the Tigers grabbed him on waivers from the Angels.

“The book’s still out on him, but he’s kind of interesting,” said McClendon, who has seen a man, 6-foot-4, and 185 pounds, bat .249, with six home runs and a .351 on-base average, all in 46 games.

“You just have to wait and see, but I like what he’s shown. Some power. Good hands. Runs OK. He’s got a chance.”

Davis was on the Angels’ 40-man roster after putting up big Triple-A numbers last season at Salt Lake City (.333/.409/.641/1.050, with eight homers, all in 31 games.

This season didn’t go as well and when the Angels ran into a 40-man jam-up, the waiver wire arrived and Detroit jumped.

Davis was a fifth-round pick by the Dodgers in 2015.

Healings and dealings

Colt Keith, who was hoping to make it back to West Michigan for the regular season’s final month, is still dealing with issues relating to June’s shoulder separation. The Tigers now doubt he will play in any scheduled 2022 games. They have not ruled out a possible stint this autumn at the Arizona Fall League. Keith, 20, is a left-handed hitter and was on his way to being Tigers Minor League Player of the Year before hurting his shoulder.

Joey Wentz: He will begin a rehab stint with low-A Lakeland in early August after shoulder issues sacked him in June. Wentz, a lefty, made two May spot starts for the Tigers but otherwise was tuning up at Triple-A Toledo.

Dylan Smith: He was last year’s third-round pick (University of Alabama), but hasn’t pitched in July because of some minor elbow tenderness. He is expected to resume work at West Michigan sometime in early August.

Innings limitations: They have arrived. Wilmer Flores, who might be the top pure-stuff pitching prospect anywhere in Detroit’s farm tiers, will find his innings rationed for the remainder of 2022. He threw 66, total, in 2021, but now stands at 61.2 between his time at West Michigan and Erie. The Tigers, like most MLB teams, prefer no more than a 20% increase each season in a prospect pitcher’s workload.

Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and retired Detroit News sports reporter.

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