Mar 2, 2014; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Robbie Ray (70) throws the ball during the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers Links: Minor league pitchers struggling, Zubaz pants & locking up Nicky C. long-term

Detroit Tigers’ minor league pitchers struggling, except for soon-to-be-called-up Robbie Ray – George Sipple, Detroit Free Press

Robbie Ray, the key part of the trade that sent Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals, will make his major league debut in a spot start for the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, against the Houston Astros at Comerica Park.

Ray, 22, was the obvious choice to sub for Anibal Sanchez (out with a blister on the middle finger of his right hand), not just because he has a 1.59 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Toledo but because of other minor league pitchers’ struggles so far this season.

For an organization that has stressed drafting pitching year after year, this is a bit troubling. But it also makes the Fister deal seem a bit more plausible.

Detroit Tigers bonding over Zubaz pants – Sipple

Detroit Tigers rightfielder Torii Hunter was walking around the visitor’s clubhouse before Wednesday’s game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago in a pair of orange-and-blue Zubaz pants.

Pretty soon, the entire team will have the opportunity to wear the same style, thanks to reliever Joba Chamberlain. Hunter said Chamberlain has a connection that is getting the entire team a pair.

“When you do things together, you kind of come together, like going out to dinner or having a chant or wearing something the same,” Hunter said. “This team over here, we’re very close. We have fun. We laugh and do a lot of things. That’s what you kind of have to do to withstand all the failure that you have on the field.”

How long before the team store is selling these pants?

Should the Tigers offer Nick Castellanos a contract extension? – Rob Rogacki, Bless You Boys

This brings us to Nick Castellanos. The highest rated position player prospect to make his big league debut with the Tigers since Cameron Maybin, Castellanos has held his own through 20 games in 2014. He is hitting .233/.275/.397 with three home runs and 14 RBI in 80 plate appearances while playing better-than-expected defense at third base. While far from Trout-esque, Castellanos has shown flashes of the sweet swing that enamored the Tigers enough to hold onto him throughout their trading sprees over the past several seasons. He has looked like a rookie at times as well, especially on the basepaths. The fact that no one is calling him a bust after 20 games is a good sign, and more than we can say about his September call-up last year.

Even if Castellanos’ numbers don’t improve much as the season goes along, there is still potential for a team-friendly contract extension. Jedd Gyorko had a .745 OPS and was worth 2.5 fWAR as a rookie for the San Diego Padres last season, and he signed a six year, $35.5 million extension in mid-April. Salvador Perez signed a bargain bin contract extension with the Kansas City Royals after just 158 plate appearances in 2011. Rays third baseman Evan Longoria — the poster child for these early contract extensions — signed his first contract extension after just six games at the big league level (in Tampa’s defense, he was a consensus top-five prospect).

This could be a bit premature. I think you give a guy a full year or two before you start talking contract extension. One thing is for sure, while his average is a bit low, I think Casty’s start can be labeled as “best case scenario” for the season’s first month.

Tags: Detroit Tigers

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