It’s a question worth asking. Is this the best the Tigers system is going to look for years to come? If the answer is yes, then that might mean exciting times ahead in Motor City.
Detroit boasts two of MLB Pipeline’s Top 5 overall prospects in first baseman Spencer Torkelson and outfielder Riley Greene, who check in at No. 4 and 5 respectively. No other organization can make the same claim. But both potential stars are candidates to open the upcoming season in the Major Leagues, and eight more members of the recently released Tigers Top 30 prospects have 2022 ETAs. Those are a whole lot of potential graduations for the best reason possible -- aiding a Major League team that has aspirations of competing for the organization’s first playoff spot since 2014.
The Tigers signed Javier Báez, Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Pineda this offseason and acquired Tucker Barnhart in a trade to bolster the Major League roster, but the additions of Torkelson (a 70-grade slugger) and Greene (an all-around hitter) will provide other high-ceiling boosts in short order, assuming their significant tools carry to the Majors as expected.
Their graduations would leave 2021 third overall pick Jackson Jobe as Detroit’s top prospect -- a role he could hold for some time. The 19-year-old right-hander sports four above-average pitches, highlighted by a potentially plus-plus slider, and is just about to get his first taste of the Minor Leagues this summer. Other recent picks like 2020 second-rounder Dillon Dingler, 2021 32nd overall pick Ty Madden and 2021 second-rounder Izaac Pacheco, along with budding international signees Cristian Santana and Roberto Campos, should help try to keep the Tigers system afloat following Torkelson and Greene’s moves to The Show.
But if all goes as planned in 2022, this might be the turning of the corner on Detroit’s farm-focused rebuild.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2021 preseason list to the 2022 preseason list.
Jump: Ryan Kreidler, SS (2021: 27 | 2022: 7) -- A fourth-round pick out of UCLA in 2019, Kreidler made up for the time he lost in 2020 by hitting .270/.349/.454 with 22 homers and 15 steals over 129 games at the top two levels of the system. The 24-year-old shortstop was promoted to Triple-A at the same time as Torkelson and Greene and held his own with the bigger names while with Toledo. A solid shortstop, Kreidler has the glove and arm to move around the infield if needed with Báez ahead of him at the six.
Fall: Franklin Pérez, RHP (2021: 17 | 2022: NR) -- Pérez was acquired by the Tigers in the Justin Verlander trade, and there was hope at the time that he could become a potential ace down the road. Since the 2017 deal, he has managed only 27 innings of Minor League action for Detroit, due to numerous injuries. The latest required right shoulder surgery last May. He was released to get him off the 40-man roster but was subsequently re-signed to a Minor League deal. It’s going to still take some time before the 24-year-old can force his way to the Majors, and if he does, it will likely be in a much more limited role due to his injury history.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- Riley Greene (Spencer Torkelson, Cristian Santana)
Power: 70 -- Spencer Torkelson
Run: 60 -- Parker Meadows
Arm: 65 -- Dillon Dingler
Defense: 60 -- Gage Workman
Fastball: 65 -- Angel De Jesus
Curveball: 55 -- Wilmer Flores (Jackson Jobe, Ty Madden, Dylan Smith, Keider Montero)
Slider: 65 -- Jackson Jobe
Changeup: 60 -- Jackson Jobe
Control: 55 -- Alex Faedo (Beau Brieske, Ty Madden)
How they were built
Draft: 19 | International: 7 | Trade: 2 | Non-drafted free agent: 2
Breakdown by ETA
2022: 10 | 2023: 6 | 2024: 7 | 2025: 7
Breakdown by position
C: 1 | 1B: 1 | 2B: 1 | 3B: 2 | SS: 7 | OF: 5 | RHP: 12 | LHP: 1