Much Improved Depth
Last year saw the Detroit Tigers play dearly for a lack of minor league depth.
During the 2015 season, the team went through a staggering 47 players, including 26 different pitchers, 21 position players, 12 starting pitchers, 10 infielders and seven outfielders. The depth (or lack thereof) compiled by Dave Dombrowski simply couldn’t compete.
Ian Krol, Jefry Marte, Neftali Feliz, Hernan Perez, Kyle Lobstein, Marc Krauss, Guido Knudson and Daniel Fields were among a large group of players that couldn’t help fill in for injured and traded players like Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Yoenis Cespedes and David Price.
This season, the depth is much improved. New general manager has been especially diligent in accumulating starting pitching depth. His moves to sign Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey have pushed the likes of Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Michael Fulmer to Triple-A Toledo. Should Pelfrey and Shane Greene continue to struggle, Norris, Boyd or Fulmer could get an extended look this season.
Dipping into Toledo’s pitching staff proved to be a disaster for Detroit last season, but this season should bring about different results.
Norris showed flashes of potential in limited action last year, while Boyd and Fulmer have impressed for Lloyd McClendon’s squad after showing potential in Spring Training. Boyd owns a 2.25 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 16 innings, while Fulmer’s ERA is a sparkling 0.82 in 11 innings. The top prospect has also posted an encouraging 14 strikeouts compared to just four free passes.
What’s more, Avila has stocked the Toledo roster with a number of players who could contribute if called upon. Casey McGehee, Bobby Parnell, Nate Schierholtz, Lucas Harrell and Humberto Quintero all have extensive Major League experience, while Thad Weber, Preston Guilmet and Drake Britton all have been on big league rosters.
If Detroit needs to call up players from Triple-A, things will end much differently this season.