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: The 2019 Draft Picks in Erie

Detroit Tigers
Mar 17, 2021; Clearwater, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene (31) hits a single against the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning at BayCare Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

The lost 2020 season, and the disheartening contraction of minor-league baseball teams, have conspired to produce a large number of unusually aggressive assignments. In the last slide we mentioned Keider Montero, who is now at the High-A level after throwing just 24 innings in short-season ball in 2019. But the most aggressive assignments in Detroit’s system are in Double-A Erie.

The SeaWolves boast three 2019 draft picks on their roster, and they are all interesting in different ways. The big name is Riley Greene, who is one of the top hitting prospects in baseball. He wasn’t statistically impressive as he made his way to Low-A in his 2019 pro debut , but he showed off his maturity and skills in spring training and summer camp, and the Tigers think he can handle this jump. Then there’s Ryan Kreidler, Detroit’s 4th-round pick in 2019. He never made it out of short-season Connecticut in 2019, but it became clear the Tigers were high on him when he was invited to spring training, and then the alternate training site. Both Green and Kreidler recorded two hits yesterday.

The most surprising addition to the Erie roster is outfielder Kerry Carpenter, Detroit’s 19th-round pick in 2019. Carpenter spent two years in junior college before transferring to Virginia Tech, where he hit .272/.371/.490 with 10 home runs and 3 steals. Carpenter stayed in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League for almost all of his pro debut, and he was named the league MVP after batting .319/.408/.625 with 9 home runs and 6 steals in 43 games.

So did the Tigers land a huge sleeper in Carpenter? Almost certainly not. Carpenter fits the mold of a classic “org guy” who can do a little bit of everything. As odd as it sounds, he may be talented enough to handle an early assignment to Double-A, but not talented enough to ever reach a higher level. Minor-league baseball is filled with hundreds of players like that, but it doesn’t mean we won’t be watching Carpenter closely…just in case.

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