The Tigers, toothless in 2019, have Casey Mize, Matt Manning and other impressive young arms on the way
Detroit, already eliminated from playoff contention, has the fewest wins in baseball
For some perspective on how poorly the Detroit Tigers have played this season, consider that their next victory will be their 40th on the year. Every other team in baseball already has 44 wins. All but three other teams have at least 50 wins. Barring a surprise September run, the Tigers are poised to claim their second No. 1 pick in three attempts.
Despite the indignity that comes with that accomplishment -- or, at least, that used to come with that accomplishment, in the pre-Process era of sports management -- the Tigers recently announced general manager Al Avila had signed a multi-year extension. Avila took the reins back in August 2015, and has since guided the Tigers to three consecutive losing seasons.
Nevertheless, if there is reason for optimism as it pertains to Detroit baseball, it has to do with the young pitching prospects working their way through the system.
The last time the Tigers had the No. 1 pick, they selected right-hander Casey Mize from Auburn. Mize has since flown through the system, reaching and pitching well at Double-A in his first professional season. Were it not for injuries and Detroit's general malaise, Mize may have debuted in the majors this year.
At minimum, Mize is likely to reach the majors sometime next summer. When he does, he has the chance to be a well-above-average starter thanks to an arsenal featuring multiple plus pitches, including a high-grade splitter that serves as his out pitch. Mize locates his pitches well and has done well to limit quality contact thus far in his minor-league career. The only thing he needs to do, really, is to stay healthy. His current personal-high in innings is 114.
Mize wasn't the only potential front-of-the-rotation starter in Double-A. The Tigers also had Matt Manning there. The No. 9 pick in the 2016 draft, Manning was a two-sport star whose father played basketball. Unsurprisingly, he's listed at 6-foot-6 and he looks the part. Manning has made strides developmentally, improving his changeup among other aspects, and has a pair of potentially plus or better pitches in his fastball and curveball. There's every reason to think he'll be knocking on the big-league door come next summer.
If those two weren't enough, the Tigers have some additional arms to keep in mind heading forward. Funky left-hander Tarik Skubal was one of the biggest breakout pitchers of the year, and posted a 2.04 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio exceeding 5.00 in his first eight Double-A starts. The Tigers also have pitchers with famous names -- like Alex Faedo, Joey Wentz, Beau Burrows, and Kyle Funkhouser -- in their system, and have a few upside plays, too -- especially if Franklin Perez and/or Carlos Guzman can stay healthy and develop as anticipated.
None of this necessarily means the Tigers are in a good place, or relatively close to contention. But it does show that the organization isn't bereft of young talent. Most of the best, as it turns out, are on the mound -- and, in short order, should be arriving in Motown.
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