Detroit Tigers Links: Hitting Lakeland, Minor League blues, 5 Tigers to watch


It is week we’ve waited for all offseason long: Spring Training week!

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We take a spin through some Morning Links and look at how the current crop of Detroit Tigers look heading into Lakeland when pitchers and catchers report on Thursday.

Next we look at how report after report puts the Tigers’ minor league depth dead last in the majors. And while you can always take rankings in the offseason with a grain of salt, there has to be some concern–even if the team itself does not publicly say it.

Lastly, we take a look at five Detroit Tigers who will be key to the team’s hopes and dreams in 2015.

How the Tigers look as they hit Lakeland – Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press

"The Tigers entered spring training a year ago with as much turnover as it enters this one, that squad also had to replace a missing star. The difference is that Prince Fielder didn’t connect to this place the way Scherzer did. Nor did he perform as well in the postseason.Scherzer arrived in Detroit as so much unfulfilled potential. He reached it here after a couple of uneven seasons, and eventually became the team’s top-shelf starter.News of his free agency dominated the off-season and his name came up often during the team’s winter caravan.As pitching coach Jeff Jones said a couple of weeks ago, “everybody is talking about Max being gone. (But) we have the guys that can do some things if everybody does what they are capable of doing.”"

Health of Tigers’ system can’t be ignored – Kurt Mensching, Detroit News

"ESPN’s Keith Law declared the Tigers’ farm system the worst among the 30 clubs. Derek Hill, a center-field prospect drafted last summer, earned the only spot among ESPN’s top 100 list, at No. 85.In’s 2015 top 100 prospects to watch, rightfielder Steven Moya was tabbed as the only Tigers prospect worth watching, sneaking in just under the wire at No. 100.All of this would seem to bode poorly for the future of a top-heavy organization weighed down by a small number of players over the age of 30 already accounting for more than $100 million in payroll each year through 2017, and more than $90 million owed in 2018. This includes the annual money being sent to the Rangers for taking Prince Fielder off the team’s hands.And yet, we’ve heard this tale before. We’ve listened as figures in the national media have predicted the beginning of the end for Detroit — a prediction that came before the Tigers ran off four consecutive division titles, three ALCS appearances and one AL pennant.Why should we believe this time will be any different?Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski doesn’t, telling The News a little more than two weeks ago: “(Law) can say whatever he would like, but I remember after 2006 people said we wouldn’t win anytime soon, and people have talked about that after other years that we wouldn’t be good for years to come.”He has a point, to a certain degree. Picking top prospects is an inexact science, much like with voting for baseball’s postseason awards. You hope that a number of different systems and philosophies are able to come together as a whole, to tell you something more than any one individual’s opinion."

5 Detroit Tigers to watch during Spring Training – Derick Hutchinson, ClickonDetroit

"The impact of Jose Iglesias‘ absence from the 2014 Tigers was vastly underappreciated, likely because the 25-year-old played only 46 games in Detroit before shin splints knocked him out for the year.Tiger shortstops ranked amongst the worst in the league in overall production last season, batting .223 with six home runs and 40 RBI. On defense, Detroit committed 21 errors at shortstop, tied for the third-highest total in the American League.Iglesias, a .274 hitter and defensive wiz during his young career, could give Detroit perhaps its greatest upgrade over last year’s roster. But his impact will rely largely on his ability to bounce back from the shin splints.During the spring, Tigers fans will get their first look at Iglesias since the injury. Will he have the same confidence charging slow rollers and ranging up the middle as he did before the injury? Iglesias’ value to the Tigers lies in his elite defensive ability. If the shins hold him back at shortstop, it’ll be a major setback for a team banking on an improved defense in 2015.Expect Iglesias to use the spring as a testing period to reacquaint himself and get comfortable with the position. If he’s all over the field making plays during March, expect to see the same guy from 2013 at shortstop this season."

Next: 2016 offseason goal: sign Doug Fister