DETROIT -- John Schreiber grew up a Tigers fan in Downriver Detroit, born in Wyandotte and raised in Rockwood, where he still resides. Brandon Inge was his favorite Tiger, but so was Jeremy Bonderman. Schreiber went to a Tigers playoff game as a kid.
Schreiber chased his baseball aspirations to Henry Ford Community College and then to the upstart baseball program at the University of Northwestern Ohio. When Triple-A Toledo manager Doug Mientkiewicz called him into his office at Fifth Third Field on Wednesday afternoon, the chase was over.
“He just said, 'You didn't pitch yesterday and you're going to pitch today, because you're going to Detroit,'” Schreiber said. “And I just kind of broke down when he said that. I think I was silent for about 10 minutes because my mind was just blank. I couldn't believe it.
“My wife's really excited. She was the first person I called. She was crying. Family was super stoked. It was just an awesome moment.”
The side-arming right-hander will fill one of two open spots in the bullpen, along with lefty Matt Hall, who was recalled from the Mud Hens after serving as the 26th man for Tuesday’s doubleheader against the White Sox.
It’s a local-boy-done-good story that provides a bright spot in a difficult Tigers season. But more importantly, the 25-year-old Schreiber provides a young arm Detroit hopes can find a role in its reconstructed bullpen.
“He’s been throwing well,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “And we need innings. We need guys that can extend out. Both guys can.”
The move completes an unlikely rise for Schreiber, who had no scholarship offers out of Carlson High School in Gibraltar. He received a call from nearby Henry Ford Community College, then used a strong freshman season there to vault to UNO, where he became the all-time saves leader for the NAIA school, added weight and gained velocity.
The Tigers, intrigued by the results and the arm angle, saw enough from Schreiber in a workout to select him in the 15th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He pitched his way up the ladder from there with consistent results, posting a 2.11 ERA while allowing 135 hits over 192 1/3 career Minor League innings to go with 32 saves. His 224 strikeouts were good for a 10.5 K/9 rate.
“When I got drafted, I just hoped that I had the opportunity to be here,” Schreiber said. “I just worked my way up and kept my head down and kept working, didn't try to worry about anything else.
“I have to say thank-you, though, to all the guys in the organization, all the coaches, stuff like that. They helped me get here.”
After 12 strikeouts over seven early-season innings at Double-A Erie, Schreiber jumped to Triple-A Toledo, where he produced a 2.83 ERA and 59 strikeouts over 47 2/3 innings. He tossed 12 consecutive innings without an earned run over a three-week stretch before giving up two runs last Saturday at Louisville. Even so, he posted a 1.09 ERA and .157 batting average against over 22 appearances from June 13 on, striking out 35 batters over 24 2/3 innings.
The Tigers held off on a midseason promotion in favor of players already on the 40-man roster. With Schreiber needing to be added at season’s end anyway to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, Detroit decided now was the time. He takes the spot opened when Trevor Rosenthal was designated for assignment Wednesday.
Schreiber will be the first Michigan native to play for the Tigers since Daniel Fields made a one-game appearance in 2015. The last Michigan-born pitcher to throw for Detroit was Darin Downs in 2013.
“It's just unbelievable,” he said. “I grew up watching them play. I've just tried to put in hard work. It was my dream to be here. I don't even have the words to say how blessed I am to be here.”
Greene promoted to West Michigan
Schreiber wasn’t the only big promotion in the Tigers' farm system. Outfielder Riley Greene, the fifth overall pick in this year’s MLB Draft and third-ranked player on MLB Pipeline’s Tigers prospect list, was promoted from short-season Connecticut to Class A West Michigan Wednesday night.
The 18-year-old Greene will join center fielder Parker Meadows, last year’s second-round pick, and shortstop Wenceel Perez as teenagers in the Whitecaps lineup. It’s the second promotion this summer for Greene, who vaulted from the rookie-level Gulf Coast League to Connecticut in the NY-Penn League just last month.
Greene hit .295 (26-for-88) with three doubles, a triple, home run and .766 OPS in 24 games for Connecticut. While the production didn’t match his nine-game stint in the GCL, the Tigers decided to challenge him with a late-season stint in the Midwest League, where the struggles of Meadows and Perez show how tough it can be on teenagers in their first full pro season. Unlike them, Greene arrives in his Draft year, well ahead of schedule.
Tigers claim McKay off waivers
Detroit used another open 40-man roster spot from last week’s Trade Deadline deals to take a waiver claim on right-handed reliever David McKay, who had been designated for assignment by the Mariners.
McKay ranked 28th on MLB Pipeline’s Mariners prospect list. The 24-year-old posted a 3-1 record and 5.15 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, where the league ERA average is 5.54, but he made a bigger impression with 71 strikeouts over 43 2/3 innings, good for a 14.6 K/9 rate. He allowed as many hits (31) as walks (31), which explains in part the ERA despite a .199 batting average allowed.
Those command woes carried to Seattle, where McKay walked eight batters in seven innings over two brief stints. He also allowed four earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts.
Tigers welcome PLAY program
Comerica Park welcomed the National PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) campaign on Thursday for a stop to promote the importance of children living a healthy lifestyle and the inclusion of children with disabilities. The Tigers' medical, athletic training and conditioning staffs, led by senior director of medical services Kevin Rand, welcomed kids for education on healthy eating, injury prevention, strength and conditioning, as well as the dangers of illegal performance- and appearance-enhancing drugs.
The PLAY campaign, created by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society in conjunction with MLB Charities and the Taylor Hooton Foundation, will host events in all 30 MLB parks this year.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.