According to Baseball America, the Detroit Tigers have signed two players to minor league contracts. Former Arizona Diamondbacks farmhand Willy Paredes is one of the players, while Cuban shortstop Leonardo Laffita is the other.
In part, the Detroit Tigers were done in by a lack of depth during the 2015 season. This was especially evident in the starting rotation and in the bullpen, but it was also prevalent in terms of position players.
Making up for star players is a difficult task. However, the Detroit offense couldn’t function for an entire season. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez both missed significant time, and Yoenis Cespedes was traded.
While it remains to be seen if either player the team reportedly signed on Tuesday will contribute at any time soon, you can’t fault general manager Al Avila for building up depth.
According to Baseball America, the Tigers signed former D-Backs pitching prospect Willy Paredes and 24-year-old Cuban shortstop Leonardo Laffita.
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The 27-year-old Paredes is a right-handed pitcher who has yet to crack the Major Leagues. He’s spent nearly all of his career in the Arizona system, before playing with Laredo in the American Association for 10 games last season. In the minors, the right-hander has made it all the way to the Triple-A level, but has struggled there. Paredes’ earned run average in 27.2 Triple-A innings is 8.78. Those innings also include an even 20 walks and 20 strikeouts.
For his career, the right-hander has been much more effective at the Double-A level. His earned run average there is a pristine 1.90. What’s more, his strikeout numbers are much better. Paredes has 80 punch outs (compared to only 50 walks) in 104 innings at Double-A.
It’s completely speculative, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start the season at Double-A. If he continues to perform well, Triple-A will likely beckon.
Laffita, who hits from the right side of the plate, has played both middle-infield positions so far in his young career.
The 24-year-old manned second base in his native Cuba for his National Series team Las Tunas. Baseball America’s Ben Badler thinks he’ll eventually switch positions, writing that Laffita “also committed eight errors at shortstop and will almost certainly move to another position. He projects better in center field or possibly second base.
While the infielder is raw, he has potential. Badler also notes that the player, “has good bat speed and hand-eye coordination.” Additionally, Laffita stands “out for his speed.”
With Vaqueros Laguna in the Mexican League last season, the prospect hit .280 with four RBI, three stolen bases, two doubles and a triple in 23 games. He also collected three walks while striking out three times.
Should Laffita make it to the Major Leagues as a middle infielder, he’ll have to climb an organizational depth chart that includes the likes of Dixon Machado and JaCoby Jones. Should he shift to center field, he’ll have to contend with top prospect Derek Hill.
This is also purely speculative, but it won’t be a shock to if Laffita opens the season with Double-A before eventually making the jump to Triple-A at some point in 2016.
Given the experience level of both players, it’s somewhat unlikely either see time in a Detroit Tigers’ uniform this season. However, teams can never have enough depth, and both Paredes and Laffita could help the Tigers down the line.