Detroit Tigers Farm System: Young Guns and Spent Bullets


Major league ball clubs are built in various and sundry ways. Ultimately, it all starts with a draft and a farm system. We often read in the press that  baseball “experts” grade the Detroit Tigers poorly in this regard.

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I think at times those experts are prone to some linear thinking on the subject. They seem to look at the 40 man roster and see which home-grown players they have heard about in the last two or three years. A lot can change in that time. A farm system can be beneficial in more than one way.

Dave Dombrowski and staff put considerable thought and effort in managing their feeder system. Some players, like Nick Castellanos, Rick Porcello, and Justin Verlander, to name a few, make their way entirely within their organization . Other players bring value to the organization indirectly through transactions which fill a need in the parent club. During the last few months Detroit has arguably traded away four Top Ten type prospects.

Personally, I was unhappy to see Devon Travis traded, but understand Dombrowski’s rationale. He has a pretty good track record for assessing talent, then channeling it in a useful direction. Fans see the flair, the excitement, and the hope in these prospects but not always “the fit” or the potential for further development. Those four Top Ten prospects, Devon Travis, Willy Adames, Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel, were utilized in the acquisition of David Price, Joakim Soria and Anthony Gose. However, our farm system still has some exciting young guns with huge athletic ability such as Steven Moya, James McCann and Derek Hill.

Dombrowski has made some very astute trades using his minor league system to fill holes in his major league roster. This was how he acquired Miguel Cabrera, Doug Fister, and Anibal Sanchez (not to mention Omar Infante). Hopefully the same will be said about the recent Anthony Gose and Shane Greene transactions.

Every GM also makes some not-so-astute trades. Will the spectre of the ill-fated Doug Fister for Rob Ray trade last year now be easier for grudging fans to forget?

Following our up and coming minor leaguers is a big part of why we keep watching our beloved Tigers.  I certainly look forward to seeing the track star speed of Derek Hill, the majestic trajectory of Steven Moya’s 450′ homers and the rifle arm of James McCann. These guys we keep, Dave!

Notwithstanding, Dave Dombrowski realizes the importance of a good farm system and employs it prudently. Trade for need or develop for potential? He gets it.