A Look At The Detroit Tigers’ Immediate Minor League Depth

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Mar 11, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Bryan Holaday (50) throws to third base during the game against the New York Mets at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Mets beat the Tigers 11-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


Depth Level: Poor

40-man option: Ramon Cabrera (AAA-AA)

It looks very much like Bryan Holaday will start the season as the Alex Avila’s backup in Detroit, which means the immediate catcher depth in the system will be light. Ramon Cabrera gets the nod here because he’s currently on the 40-man roster, but James McCann is the better long-term prospect and will probably get the everyday job in AAA.

Cabrera is more of an offensive catcher – he played more games at DH in the minors last year than he did behind the plate – so he wouldn’t appear be your stereotypical glove-first backup, but of the catcher in the high minors (we’re really just talking McCann and Cabrera here), he might be the one best suited to hit big league pitching right now (which isn’t to say he would be entirely successful at it).

If something really bad happened at the catcher position where they would be looking at more than just a very short-term replacement, the Tigers would probably be inclined to check into trading for someone else’s second or third catcher (or simply make Brad Ausmus a player-manager).

The Tigers saved themselves $700,000 or so by allowing Brayan Pena to walk in free agency, but bringing Holaday to the big leagues really cuts team’s depth at the catcher position. Both McCann and Cabrera would likely perform below replacement level in the big leagues in 2014.

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  • Yuma 3:10

    Thanks for this Matt. Very informative. I knew the minor league system was not exactly bursting with high end prospects just waiting to make an impact….but this analysis really shows how bare the cupboard really is doesn’t it? I do not think it looks very pretty at all. Now that Nick C is on the big club, I mean we basically have no positional player or maybe even pitcher that would be considered above replacement level, or at least much more than marginally above replacement level. This is really concerning me. How to you feel this will affect the organization at the big league level in the next 3 or 4 years?

    • http://tomaroonandgold.blogspot.com Matt Snyder

      I think things could look completely different in 3-4. That’s not to say that they’ll have a bunch of talent graduating to the big leagues, but in that time you could have a few of McCann, Travis, Suarez, Fields, Moya, or Tyler Collins contributing something in the big leagues. Probably not an all-star in the group, but maybe a couple become solid regulars. Starting pitching could hopefully offer more promise, but they’ll have to supplement the lineup with free agents and trades (as they’ve done in the past as well).

  • Will Snyder

    I’ll be very curious to see what the Tigers will do with Devon Travis, especially now that the team has acquired Ian Kinsler. Will they try to turn him into an outfielder or just see if he can be a super-sub? There are many who automatically assume Perez is ahead of Travis on the Tigers’ pecking order, but my gut reaction about Hernan is that he seems to be another Sanitago. But Travis? I think some are scared off because he’s only 5-foot-9. But he hit a combined .351 with impressive power and SB stats in two rather large minor league parks. Throw in that he went to a good baseball school (Florida State) and I think he’s a real sleeper by late 2014.

    • Barry2

      Can any of these 2B be converted to 3B?

    • http://tomaroonandgold.blogspot.com Matt Snyder

      Very interested in Travis who hit 16 bombs, didn’t strike out much, and showed a decent eye at the plate. Not a big guy, not a lot of speed, not a plus plus defender, but he absolutely ripped the ball. We’ll have to see what he does in the high minors.

  • chrisHannum

    I’m sure Miguel Cabrera must at least be above “guy who was just DFA” at 3rd base… I’d also mention that some of the guys not even worth mentioning might look better a couple of months into the season. They don’t right now, though, do they?

    • http://tomaroonandgold.blogspot.com Matt Snyder

      I mean, yeah, they could go back to Miggy playing 3B if they really needed to, with Lennerton filling in at 1B.

  • Barry2

    Great article, are you doing the pitching depth next?

  • Tim OConnor

    I think the state of our current minor league affiliates is more a reflection of just how bad a situation Dombrowski walked into when he became our GM. We’ve had almost no alternatives to trading our top draft picks for established talent. But you can’t play that game forever.

    My big fear is that they will make Mr. Dombrowski the next commissioner. I think he’s a very good GM, myself. Perfect? Course not. Who is? But he has turned this franchise around from being a running joke to a perennial contender.

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