A Look At The Detroit Tigers’ Immediate Minor League Depth

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July 11, 2012; Reading, PA USA; Erie SeaWolves infielder Jordan Lennerton (37) watches his flyball during AA Eastern League All-Star game at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Eastern Division defeated the Western Division, 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

First Base

Depth Level: Fair

40-man option: Jordan Lennerton (AAA)

The Tigers don’t have any options in the minors besides Lennerton at first base, but that’s still okay for depth purposes because of how unlikely it is that they’ll need anyone else (or even Lennerton for that matter). Victor Martinez could play a lot of first base if anything happened to Miguel Cabrera, so the Tigers wouldn’t even necessarily need a first baseman to fill in. That being said, Lennerton might be the best minor league hitting option anyway.

Lennerton participated in the Futures Game last summer during the All-Star break, but his age (he’ll be 28 in February) means he doesn’t fit the prospect profile. Still, he’s hit fairly well at every level and probably wouldn’t embarrass himself in the major leagues. He’s shown some good on-base ability (.382 OBP in AAA last year) and has good (but not massive) power. It’s unlikely that he could jump to the show and be even an average hitter, but he’d probably be a better play than Don Kelly if Detroit needed to survive a 15-day DL stint from either Cabrera or Victor.

Lennerton couldn’t replace Cabrera’s production – no one could – but I think he’d be an above-replacement (though decidedly below average) if he was asked to play a stint or two in the major leagues.

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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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