Detroit Tigers: 5 minor-league storylines to follow

The new entrance to UPMC Park, shown on April 30, 2021.
The new entrance to UPMC Park, shown on April 30, 2021. /
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Detroit Tigers Minor-League Storyline: Finding More Pitchers

Detroit Tigers
Pitcher Joey Wentz throws the ball during spring training. /

If there’s one persistent misconception about the Detroit Tigers, it’s that their farm system is “loaded with arms.” Yes, a plurality of their top prospects (or young big leaguers) are pitchers, but once you get past the top four names, the system is surprisingly barren. We’ve already seen Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal struggle early in their MLB careers, and we detailed some of the concerns about Matt Manning earlier in this piece. The fourth big arm is Joey Wentz, who had Tommy John surgery last year and probably won’t see game action for another month or two.

You don’t have to be some prospect expert to notice the dearth of arms in this system. MLB Pipeline lists just six other pitchers among Detroit’s top 30 prospects, and four of them are already relievers. The other two are Franklin Perez, who is hurt again, and Alex Faedo, who won’t pitch this year. Finding another potential big-league starter in the minors this year is vital for the team’s future success.

So who are the candidates? Rony Garcia, Detroit’s 2019 Rule 5 pick, will likely work as a starter in Toledo this year, but he looked more like a middle reliever in his time in Detroit last year. Down in Double-A the Tigers have Paul Richan, who shows good control but lackluster stuff. He gave up three home runs in four innings in his Erie debut last night. Keider Montero pitched for the West Michigan Whitecaps yesterday, flashing an impressive low-90s fastball and a breaking ball with above-average potential But then his control fell apart and he allowed 5 runs in just 2.2 innings. He looks like a future reliever.

There just aren’t many interesting arms in the system this year, so we’ll be watching closely to see if anyone makes progress.