Detroit Tigers Spring Training Depth Chart – First Base
Last year Miguel Cabrera played more than 40 games in the field for the first time since 2017, and his offensive production as a first baseman was significantly better than as a DH. Jonathan Schoop saw the majority of action at first last year, but we expect him to slide back second base this year with the imminent arrival of Spencer Torkelson. Cabrera will likely continue to get scattered outings at first, but Torkelson should get the plurality of starts.
There isn’t much in the way of minor-league depth on the infield corners for the Tigers. Josh Lester was one of the most prolific power bats in the minors last year, and the Tigers re-signed him to a minor-league deal in November. Rivera is an all-or-nothing power bat, and Holton and Kerr have shown some offensive ability, but none of these notable names have seen a plate appearance above A-ball. There are plenty of other players in the system who can play first base, but not many starters, so this seems like a prime area for the Tigers to add another minor-league veteran.
Detroit Tigers Spring Training Depth Chart – Second Base
As mentioned above, Jonathan Schoop spent most of last year at first base, but we expect him to move back to his natural position this year. And given the Tigers signed him to a two-year extension last August, there doesn’t appear to be a ton of playing time for Kody Clemens and the Castros. Clemens will probably return as the starting second baseman in Toledo, while Harold and Willi Castro might split time between Detroit and Triple-A.
Andre Lipcius made the back of our Top 20 prospects list as a possible utility infielder, and while the bloom has come off Wenceel Perez as a prospect, he still has a chance to carve out a bench role like Harold Castro. John Valente doesn’t have much power, and he isn’t a particularly strong defender, but all he does is hit. Jose King is the last player remaining from the JD Martinez trade, and his pro career could be coming to an end soon, while Carlos Mendoza is an under-the-radar player who has demonstrated an impressive ability to get on base in a small sample.
Detroit Tigers Spring Training Depth Chart – Shortstop
This is the Javier Báez show now. The Tigers signed him to a six-year, $140-million deal this offseason, and we expect him to start 145+ games at shortstop. Zack Short gets listed here because he made 45 starts at shortstop last year, but he’ll need to make some dramatic improvements to win a backup or utility job over the Castros and Isaac Paredes.
Short could see some action if Báez has to go on the injured list, but any extended absence from Báez would likely result in the promotion of Ryan Kreidler. Kreidler turned himself into one of the better two-way prospects in the system last year, and he figures to get a few dozen plate appearances in spring training. Gage Workman has similar two-way potential, but he still has several levels to climb before he reaches Kreidler’s prospect status, while Trei Cruz will look to shake off an ugly 2021 season in which he struggled with injuries and hit just .161 in 63 games.
The Notable list at shortstop features a trio of fascinating prospects who have all shown power potential, but still carry questions about their ultimate defensive home. If any one of them show up in spring training it will likely be for just an at-bat or two.
Detroit Tigers Spring Training Depth Chart – Third Base
We mentioned how thin this organization is at corner infield in the first base section, but third base is covered quite nicely at the big-league level. Jeimer Candelario has been the most consistent bat for the Tigers over the past two seasons, ranking as one of the ten most productive third basemen in the majors. Isaac Paredes has a long track record of success in the minors and he’ll be 23 all season, but he doesn’t have a clear path to playing time, and he just hasn’t hit the ball hard enough at the MLB level.
Detroit’s farm system seems woefully thin at third base, but things might not be as dire as they look. It’s true that Daniel Pinero, Dane Myers, and Andrew Navigato are all organizational utility soldiers, but Colt Keith is one of the more exciting prospects in the system, and most of the shortstops listed above can pretty easily slide over to the hot corner. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the organization look to add more depth here in the form of a minor-league vet.