Detroit Tigers: Six Prospects Who Could Debut in 2017
By Ben Rosener
For nearly as long as Joe Jimenez has been in the Tigers system, he’s been tabbed as Detroit’s closer of the future. In just eight games in his first professional season, the reliever struck out 24 batters. All told, he struck out 13 batters per nine innings over the course of his career.
In 2016, Jimenez made the jump from Lakeland to Toledo, nearly advancing to the Majors. In 15.2 innings pitched, the 21-year-old posted a 2.30 ERA, eight saves and a 0.83 WHIP.
There’s a very real possibility that Jimenez could be in the Tigers bullpen come Opening Day.
After 102 successful innings at Lakeland, left-handed starter Tyler Alexander was promoted to Double-A Erie. In six starts with the SeaWolves, the former second-round pick thrived.
Over 34.1 innings, the 22-year-old pitched to a 3.15 ERA while putting up 23 strikeouts compared to just four walks. All told, he only walked 20 batters in 136.1 innings pitched during the 2016.
He won’t start the year in Detroit, and may not even make it to the Majors next season. However, if Alexander shows well enough to be promoted to Toledo and the Tigers need a starter late in the season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Alexander get the call.
Lewicki is very similar to Alexander in the sense that he started 2016 in Lakeland, thrived after a promotion to Erie and could be called up late in 2017.
An eight-round pick in 2014, Lewicki allowed just 19 walks in 89 innings, while posting a 3.44 ERA in 2016. He also held opposing batters to a .254 average while striking out 77.
Detroit has a pair of potential mid-rotation starters in Alexander and Lewicki.
Al Avila didn’t make many moves from the start of Spring Training through the regular season. However, one move he did make was to trade Bryan Holaday to Texas.
In return, Avila acquired Jaye and Bobby Wilson. Wilson was later flipped back to the Rangers, but Jaye stuck in Detroit’s system. In the future, he can contribute in a number of roles.
As either a starter, a long reliever or a swingman, Jaye has plenty of upside. So far in the minors, he’s posted a 3.95 ERA in 161.2 innings pitched. With 135 strikeouts compared to just 44 walks, it is clear Jaye can keep opposing lineups in check. Look for him to contribute to the Tigers next season and beyond.