Detroit Tigers: Prospect Update Shows Clear Crack and Ready Remedy

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - September 23: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers looks on against the Minnesota Twins on September 23, 2020 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - September 23: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers looks on against the Minnesota Twins on September 23, 2020 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Tigers’ system was recently ranked second in the league, but the club has a glaring weakness and an out-of-the-box solution to solve it

The Detroit Tigers–armed with the first overall selection two of the last three seasons have finally made their farm system a strength of the organization. While it has come at the expense of the big league product, many Tigers fans are looking forward to what is in store in the years to come from their high-end talent waiting to reach the big leagues.

Fans were able to get a taste of that when players like Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Isaac Paredes, and Daz Cameron all made their respective MLB debuts in 2020. Prospects are far from a sure thing though, and while the Detroit Tigers have built a formidable farm system built on stud pitching, there remains one glaring blemish.

MLB Pipeline gave an update on their state of the farm recently and outlined some updates among the top tier of young players. The piece also does a good job of providing some context on how the system was constructed and what it is comprised of. Beneath all the hype and detail lies one oddity that has yet to cause consequence: their Top 30 contains zero first baseman.

The Detroit Tigers ran into a pinch in the shortened 2020 season when first baseman CJ Cron went down with a leg injury that ended his season. Because of the lack of depth, the club opted to move Jeimer Candelario across the diamond and call up 21-year-old Isaac Paredes to fill the hole at the hot corner.

The absence in the system also adds to the abstract strategy with slugger Spencer Torkelson, who played first base at Arizona State but was announced on draft night as a third baseman. Perhaps the consequences of Torkelson at third are minimal. Frankly, I have scoffed at the idea of drafting for the need at the MLB level, considering draft picks are a bit of a crapshoot to hit on to begin with. However, the need even within the minors exists. Converting a player to third that did not seem to be the top third baseman on their own college team communicates a solution to a problem that never existed.

Additionally, the consequences of having no first baseman in their system may not be much of an issue considering there are a handful of teams in the same predicament, although I am unsure of an organization that has discounted the position so much over the years as the Detroit Tigers. Well-regarded teams like the Dodgers also have no first baseman in their top 30, but they also have the luxury of a long-term solution at the position at the MLB level.

There has been a barrage of players recently for whom fans have clamored for at first base. Nicholas Castellanos, Christin Stewart, or even Steven Moya to name a few. However, it is revealing that a club like the Tigers, who put versatility on a pedestal, never moved these players to first base. The position is a tough one to handle defensively. While a lumbering, power profile has its limitations, it is worth having at least one in the system at all times.

A good possibility to fill such a void goes beyond Spencer Torkelson, however. The newly slimmed hitting savant Bryant Packard has recently made the shift to first from his corner outfield stable. One does not have to look far to find a player who started at a different position that ended up handling first base perfectly fine. Miguel Cabrera was signed as a shortstop before moving to left field, to third, to first, back to third, and first once again. If Packard continues to hit, a first base future may work splendidly for all parties long-term.

Here’s to hope Packard plays powerfully, as the reinforcements remain reduced for the time being.