The Tigers are on the verge of selecting the contract of right-hander Brenan Hanifee, according to Cody Elliot of the Daily News Record. Elliot reports that Hanifee has joined the club in LA and is expected to make his big league debut in tonight’s game against the Dodgers.
Hanifee, 25, was a fourth-round selection by the Orioles in the 2016 draft. Hanifee’s career got off to a strong start in 2017, as the then-19-year-old posted a sterling 2.75 ERA in 68 2/3 innings of work at the Low-A level that year. He followed that up with a similarly solid performance in 2018 at Single-A. Across 23 starts (132 innings), Hanifee posted a 2.86 ERA with a strikeout rate of just 16% but a minuscule 4.2% walk rate. Unfortunately for Hanifee, he battled control problems at High-A in 2019 as his walk rate spiked to 10.1% while his strikeout rate dipped slightly, resulting in a lackluster 4.60 ERA in 129 innings of work.
Between the cancelled minor league season in 2020 and injury woes the following year, Hanifee didn’t return to a professional mound until the summer of 2022. He ultimately made it into just 43 2/3 innings of work last year, with 38 of them coming at the Double-A level to decent results (4.03 ERA, 7.6% walk rate). Hanifee then elected minor league free agency following the 2022 campaign, and caught on with Detroit on a minor league deal back in December.
He’s pitched exclusively at the Triple-A level for the Tigers this year, posting a 4.38 ERA in 90 1/3 innings across 25 games (13 starts). While those run prevention numbers don’t jump off the page, Hanifee is posting a career-best strikeout rate of 20.6% while keeping his walk rate limited to 7.5%. At the big league level, Hanifee figures to provide the Tigers with a long relief or piggyback option out of the bullpen in the season’s final weeks.