Detroit Tigers: The Placement of Isaac Paredes

LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 18: Isaac Paredes #19 of the Detroit Tigers looks on during Spring Training workouts at the TigerTown Facility on February 18, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 18: Isaac Paredes #19 of the Detroit Tigers looks on during Spring Training workouts at the TigerTown Facility on February 18, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

In our 40-man roster preview series, we focus on Isaac Paredes, who has gotten lost in the prospect shuffle. Where do the Detroit Tigers place this highly regarded prospect?

Lost among the great draft haul,  Spencer Tolkerson taking batting practice and monitoring what baseball is going to do with more COVID-19 positive tests coming back, is what the Detroit Tigers are planning to do with Isaac Paredes. Paredes has made Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list a few times in recent years and one of two positional players along with Riley Greene as the other, to be on the list.

This morning, Ron Gardenhire sang the praise of Paredes and his athleticism. Just reading through the cliches, he will play all over the infield.

We have established that the job at third base is between Jeimer Candelario and Dawel Lugo. The strong thread between them is they were a part of an infield that batted 233/.285/.377 and both struck out a lot. (Lugo 20.5%, Candelario 25.6%) Candelario’s saving grace is that he can play great defense and walked around 11%, which was among the highest on the team.

Torkelson is taking grounders at third but who knows how long that adaptation will take. With the season uncertain, the only sure thing is that Torkelson will probably start the season in Lakeland in 2021.

Paredes at the plate is the complete opposite of Candelario and Lugo. In Erie last season, he only struck out just 11% of the time and as Fangraphs points out, his 4.6 SwStk% means he isn’t missing when he’s swinging.

In his first full season in Erie last year, Paredes’s slash line was .282/ .368/.416, which was down from his split time in Lakeland and Erie in 2018. That may give some Tigers fans pause for concern but we have no clue if Detroit was telling him to work on a certain thing or he was still adjusting to the move from short to third.  He doesn’t have speed but continues to increase his walk rate every year he was in the minor leagues.

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So, where exactly should the Detroit Tigers place him then?

In his 2019 write up on Paredes, James Chipman of the Tigers Minor League Report spoke about his plus arm-strength and his defensive instincts, which should be good enough to hold down the position at third.  His ability to be a line-drive hitter in the Comerica Park gaps should suite him well despite the lack of speed.

Detroit should look for any opportunity to place Paredes on the 30-man roster, even as a bench player. He can play both short and third as a super-sub this season. If Schoop decides not to resign, you have your second base solution. With Kody Clemens not on the 60-man roster, for Tigers fans, would you not see that as some sort of sign? Before Schoop signed, it could have been a Hodgepodge of Brandon Dixon, Niko Goodrum, or whomever else at second base.

Now, the adjustment from Double-A to the big leagues is hard. Only a handful of players in Detroit’s history have done so without some time in Triple-A. Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker do come to mind but I am not putting Paredes in that classification. What I am saying is simply look at his stats in the minor leagues.

Joe Rampe made an excellent point about comparable players to Paredes that did not put up eye-popping home run totals in the minors but had a good walk rate and struck out rarely. He cited Eugenio Suarez, Manny Machado, and Rafael Devers. In three seasons in the minors, Lou Whitaker hit five home runs. He would go on to have four seasons of hitting 20 home runs. Not saying he will be the next Lou Whitaker and yes, a different time period but you get the idea.

I say put Issac Paredes as your 2021 starting second baseman. If there is a season and we see some at-bats in which you can see him hang at the major league level as a super-sub, he should have the opportunity to play second every day. Just judging on the comments by Gardenhire, they like his ability to play multiple positions.

But look deeper, right now, there is long term solution ready to go at second base. Paredes could be that solution. I think it’s fair to say Detroit Tigers fans want a return on trades during this rebuild and I believe Paredes is one who will make Al Avila look good.