Tigers Prospect Emailbag Questions Answered


As promised, you email me questions in, and I try and answer them. Questions can be Tigers system related or about prospects from any team in general. I would like to do this series more often, so the more questions the merrier. You can send questions to me at mcbjohnverburg@gmail.com, as well as any other thing related to Motor City Bengals. A big thank you to those who sent questions.

Without further delay, here we go…..

Q. Here’s a question: Oliver and Crosby both issued an alarming 5 to 6 walks per 9 innings during the summer, but both issued an even worse 8 to 9 walks per 9 innings in the AFL. I read somewhere that that might be due to their working on secondary pitches in the AFL. Is there hope for them or are they just two more Tiger draftees who will never progress from being hard throwers to being effective pitchers? -Jim T.

A. Its a good question Jim, and unfortunately one which we just don’t know. A big part of being able to command a baseball, or even control it, is a pitchers ability to repeat their delivery. Basically throwing the ball from the spot, arm speed, etc….

I’m actually a little perplexed that we haven’t seen improvement, especially from Andy Oliver. Typically, one of the things you look for in a pitcher is athleticism, because pitchers with athleticism are more likely to be able to repeat their deliveries. It’s why guys that are extremely tall are pretty rare. A lot more moving parts. The AFL is certainly not the best of atmospheres for pitching, and it’s entirely possible that he and Crosby were both down there tinkering with things. But we have to remember this. These guys are power pitchers, and expecting a lot of command is what makes elite pitchers elite. If Crosby and Oliver can maintain a BB rate around 3.5 or so, I think the Tigers and we as fans should be pretty okay with that.

I give Casey Crosby a little more of a pass, simply because he has missed time with injury. That development time is important for young pitchers who need to improve command. Don’t lose hope, and at the very least, the Tigers have two power lefties in the pen.

Q. Hello!

I just wanted to say that I really enjoy Motor City Bengals!

I was wondering what happened to Cody Satterwhite… the 2008 reliever. I know he had a rotator cuff injury (or… torn labrum?), but how did he fair post-surgery. I see that he pitched a bit in the GCL, but stats at that small sample size mean practically nothing. -Peter S.

A. It was a torn labrum, and in all honesty, he hasn’t faired well at this point. For those that aren’t familiar with Satterwhite, Satterwhite was the Tigers 2nd round pick in the 2008 draft. Of all the relievers they selected, he probably had as explosive stuff as anyone in the system up until the injury. He did have command issues, and those aren’t likely to go away considering the layoff from injury.

This is just my opinion, and I don’t want to sound like Debbie Downer, but Satterwhite was throwing mostly in the 80’s this past summer, and battled soreness. This kind of surgery is very difficult for a pitcher to come back from, especially one that relied on velocity like Satterwhite does. If he can’t return to throwing the high powered gas he was before, it likely isn’t going to happen for the young man. I don’t see that happening, and I don’t see him being able to re-invent himself either. His secondaries weren’t good enough originally to do that.

I wish him well, but sadly, if his velocity doesn’t come back relatively quickly, I think his career is probably done.

Q. Thanks for answering these questions! Enjoy the site.

My question relates to the Arizona Fall League. How do the Tigers and other organizations select who is going there, and is it a big deal if a guy struggles? I noticed Dixon Machado hit horribly in his time there and got me thinking he had no business playing in that league.  -Jeffrey P.

A. There are a lot of different things that go into the selection of guys that teams put in the Arizona Fall League. The league for the most part is meant to be for players of the AA and AAA variety, but teams can get waivers to get a younger guy if they should choose. Or if they need to replace a guy, it can often be with a prospect at the lower levels. Anyway, it is a talent laden league, so one of the major considerations is sending guys who you think will benefit from that situation. In effect, testing your top players against others in a gauge to see where they are at.

A second group would be guys that just need to play. Many times you might have a prospect coming off injury, or just need to get innings in if it is a pitcher. The Arizona Fall League allows teams to do that in a setting that is warm, and has good competition. You will see some teams send guys like Gerit Cole, who signed late, and didn’t get any innings in pro ball at the end of the season. You will also see pitchers sent down there to work on things they typically can’t during a season because they are trying to win. For instance, maybe a guy goes down there and starts throwing 40% sliders when he typically throws 15%.

And the last type is the experienced prospect who might get some big league time, but isn’t necessarily a big time prospect. A guy like Danny Worth might fall in this category. Typically these guys go to the Arizona Fall League if the team doesn’t have guys they want to get work in, or just don’t have the upper level prospects to send.

As for Machado, he was clearly over-matched at the plate. He was facing guys a good 3 or 4 years older, so it wasn’t a surprise. This shouldn’t sour anyone on Machado, and he was well regarded defensively in Arizona. In fact, he was well regarded enough to start the championship game for Salt River. He was essentially just a replacement guy, and the Tigers felt like they wanted to challenge him. The experience will probably do him well.

*Thanks so much for this round of questions. If yours didn’t make it on here, never fear, I would still like to continue to do these. Please continue to email me questions or comments at mcbjohnverburg@gmail.com and I will do my best to get to them.