Talented youngsters tabbed to lead Tigers in '23

January 4th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jason Beck's Tigers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click hereAnd subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

A month past baseball’s Winter Meetings, one thing that Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris said there still stands out. More than a quote, it’s a philosophy.

“We have a lot of holes on our roster, and we’re trying to stay as open-minded as possible to any way to get better,” Harris said in San Diego. “But one thing we won’t waver on is we’re going to invest in our young players. We are going to earmark at-bats and innings for our young players. One of our most valuable resources in this organization is opportunity at the Major League level. It’s important for us to redistribute the at-bats that we created over the last month with some of our decisions towards some of our young players that have a chance to be here for a long time.

“This doesn’t just apply to 2023. In this organization, we have to get to a place where we are both competing and developing young players at the same time. We have to. If we’re sincere about building a sustainable winner here, we have to create environments in the big leagues that are going to allow us to bring players up and compete at the same time. You’re going to see that in 2023. It’s going to be a priority for us.”

As we head into the home stretch of what has been a relatively quiet offseason for the Tigers since those Winter Meetings -- save for the  signing to round out the rotation -- it looms larger now. The Tigers still have openings for an infielder (preferably a left-handed hitter, but it’s a thin market) and outfielder (likely a right-handed hitter). They had interest in former Phillies middle infielder Jean Segura, a right-handed hitter, before he signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the Marlins. They’ve been linked to former Marlins third baseman/outfielder Brian Anderson.

But whatever the Tigers do over the next five-plus weeks before pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland, Fla., the team’s fate -- short and long term -- is going to hinge on how much its young talent can develop and improve, building upon the groundwork laid down the stretch last season with , and signs of progress from and .

Though Greene is the only one assured of an everyday role going into 2023, all of them will get long looks. So is infielder , who showed flashes of promise with the glove and bat in his September callup. might not crack Detroit’s starting rotation out of camp, but he should still get an extended look once injuries or struggles open a spot. , and are likely in the mix, too. and  should make their Major League debuts in Detroit in 2023. Positional prospects like , and are likely to do the same.  should get a look behind the plate if he can figure out a consistent approach at the plate.

It isn’t a flashy entrance for Harris, especially for Tigers fans who expected a big splash this offseason. But it’s an approach that could set up the Tigers better for the long term.

Like Dave Dombrowski when he took over as Tigers general manager in 2002, Harris hasn’t seen many of Detroit’s prospects in person. He hasn’t seen much of Detroit’s team on the field in general, having spent most of September evaluating the organizational structure. This group of young players is more talented than the foundation Dombrowski inherited 20 years ago, especially with Greene and Torkelson having been former top prospects. But the more Harris can learn about them this year, the better he can set a course for 2024 and beyond.