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Tigers call up top prospects Mize, Skubal

@beckjason
August 17, 2020

The wait for the wave of top Tigers prospects is over. The Tigers will call up their top pitching prospects Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize to make their Major League debuts on Tuesday and Wednesday against the White Sox in Chicago. The Tigers also called up top infield prospect Isaac

The wait for the wave of top Tigers prospects is over. The Tigers will call up their top pitching prospects Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize to make their Major League debuts on Tuesday and Wednesday against the White Sox in Chicago.

The Tigers also called up top infield prospect Isaac Paredes for Monday’s series opener. Dawel Lugo was designated for assignment to make room on the 28-man roster. The roster moves for Skubal and Mize will come in the next couple days.

Mize is the Tigers' No. 2-ranked prospect, Skubal fifth and Paredes sixth, according to MLB Pipeline.

General manager Al Avila made the announcement in a Monday afternoon video conference with reporters. The moves come just three days after Avila told MLB Network Radio that the team wanted to give its pitching prospects more time and development before calling them up. But since those comments, the Tigers had to place veteran right-hander Ivan Nova on the 10-day injured list with triceps tendinitis, leaving the Tigers with just two starters -- Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull -- fully stretched to pitch deep into games.

“We felt they were ready,” Avila said Monday. “The need obviously arose right now, the greatest need. We’re trying to get some of these guys through the season and some of these guys have gotten injured, the latest one obviously Nova. Right now, we feel they’re ready to contribute.”

The Tigers were also swept by the Indians in a three-game series that saw Detroit’s three starters -- Nova, Turnbull and Michael Fulmer -- yield 14 runs on 16 hits over 10 2/3 innings. No Tigers starter has completed five innings since Turnbull tossed seven innings of one-run ball eight days ago in Pittsburgh, one of just two quality starts from Detroit’s pitching staff this year.

The Tigers’ starting struggles have taxed a surprisingly strong young bullpen and pressured a struggling lineup. The team needs another strong, capable starter more than anything. They’ll now have one in Mize and another in Skubal once he stretches out his pitch count.

“Probably the best-case scenario would've been to extend him a little bit more so he could go longer into games,” Avila said of Skubal, who missed Summer Camp while in COVID-19 protocol. “But as far as his overall health, overall stuff, control and command, he’s been spot-on. I know [manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson] will take care of him pretty good and he’ll get stretched out here. As long as he's pitching with the stuff he had down there, he'll be just fine.”

Likewise, injuries moved up the timetable on Paredes. Avila acknowledged the season-ending knee injury to C.J. Cron ignited the discussion, despite shortstop prospect Willi Castro’s strong work at third base over the past four games.

“We're adding a bat, basically,” Avila said. “We lost Cron to injury and we felt we need some offense, so let's give the kid a chance.”

The 21-year-old Paredes brings a strong, disciplined bat. He batted .282 at Double-A Erie, with 13 home runs, 66 RBIs and a .784 OPS last year, ranking among the hitting leaders in a pitching-dominant Eastern League. He has had a near-even ratio of walks to strikeouts since his arrival in Erie in 2018.

Mize and Skubal, both 2018 MLB Draft picks, were the talk of Spring Training with a dominant array of pitches that flummoxed prospects and veteran hitters alike. Mize, the top overall pick in the 2018, allowed two runs on three hits over four innings with six strikeouts in Grapefruit League play. Skubal, a ninth-round pick out of Seattle University, struck out six batters over 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball, showing the power lefty arsenal that resulted in 82 strikeouts over 42 1/3 innings last summer at Double-A Erie.

Mize picked up where he left off in Summer Camp, dominating in one Summer Camp intrasquad appearance and two simulated games. Not only was he the best of the Tigers’ highly regarded crop of young pitchers, he might have been the best Tigers pitcher in the July camp of any experience level. Gardenhire made no secret that he would like to plug Mize into his rotation right then, but he waited patiently.

The Tigers, as expected, sent Mize and Skubal to the alternate training site in Toledo, Ohio, at the end of camp to get more work. But while the Blue Jays promoted top pitching prospect Nate Pearson a week into the season, followed by the Phillies’ promotion of Spencer Howard a week ago, the Tigers remained conservative with Mize, much like the Padres with MacKenzie Gore.

The Tigers’ promotions won’t impact free agency; all three prospects will have at least six more seasons after this.

Mize will make his Major League debut after 26 Minor League starts and 123 innings, including a no-hitter in his Double-A debut last year for Erie. Skubal arrives after 33 Minor League games and 145 innings, during which he struck out 212 batters.

By contrast, fellow former Tigers first-round pick Rick Porcello pitched 125 innings over 24 starts at Class A Advanced Lakeland before he made his big league debut at age 20 in 2009. Justin Verlander made just 20 Minor League starts in '05, covering 118 2/3 innings, and made his big league debut in the middle of the season.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.