Detroit Tigers 40-man roster preview: Miguel del Pozo on thin ice

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Miguel Del Pozo throws in the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Miguel Del Pozo throws in the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Time is running out for Detroit Tigers lefty reliever Miguel Del Pozo.

We continue our series of Detroit Tigers 40-man roster previews with Miguel Del Pozo, a 29-year-old southpaw originally from the Dominican Republic.

The Detroit Tigers have been looking for solid left-handed relief pitching for years, but with Gregory Soto entrenched as the team’s closer, Tyler Alexander serving as a lefty long reliever, and Andrew Chafin signed to a two-year deal, there doesn’t seem to be much room left for De Pozo. In fact, Rogelio identified him as one of the players most in danger of losing his spot on the 40-man roster.

Who is Miguel Del Pozo?

Miguel Del Pozo was originally signed by the then Florida Marlins shortly after his 18th birthday in late 2010. He spent the next eight years in the Marlins’ system, working mostly as a reliever and missing all of 2016 with Tommy John Surgery.

He signed with the Texas Rangers as a minor-league free agent prior to the 2019 season, and then in August he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for cash considerations. He made his MLB debut a few days later, and saw some early success, retiring the first seven batters he faced over three games. But a couple of disastrous outings in September resulted in a 10.61 ERA in 9.1 innings over 17 appearances.

Del Pozo signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates before the 2020 season, but he saw action in just five games, and he struggled mightily. His last game for Pittsburgh was actually a wild, extra-inning affair against the Tigers. The Pirates designated him for assignment the next day, and the Tigers scooped him up in the offseason.

Miguel Del Pozo was added to Detroit’s 40-man roster on June 15th, and the Tigers sent him back and forth between Detroit and the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens four times over the next few months. His second outing of the season saw Del Pozo face just one batter before a scary moment when he took a 95.2 MPH line drive to the head:

Despite being bloodied, Del Pozo was fine and took the mound three more times over the next week before coming down with COVID-19. He participated in spring training this year, but was optioned to Triple-A on Saturday after two ugly outings. Del Pozo is making the MLB minimum salary, and he has one minor-league option remaining.

Miguel Del Pozo’s Game

Miguel Del Pozo’s earliest scouting reports mention a promising curve ball and the chance to grow into some velocity. The velocity did come, with Del Pozo’s fastball sitting in the 92-96 MPH range, but he’s still primarily a two-pitch reliever, and his curveball remains inconsistent. At times it looks like a plus pitch with hard bite in the low-80s, but his control and command are both below average.

Our take on Miguel Del Pozo

Ordinarily we mention ZiPS projections here, and you can see them on Miguel Del Pozo’s FanGraphs page if you are so inclined, but they aren’t terribly relevant. He’s projected as a replacement-level player over 28 innings.

Few jobs in sports are as unforgiving as that of a middle reliever. There’s never a shortage of potential replacement options, so players rarely get any leeway to have few bad outings and recover. Del Pozo was a fringe member of the 40-man roster heading into camp, and after his poor performance this spring he seems destined to be designated for assignment soon.

That doesn’t necessarily spell the end for him in a Detroit Tigers uniform, though. Relievers are strange, volatile players, and if Miguel Del Pozo clears waivers and returns to Toledo, he might just catch fire and get another shot at MLB success at some point during the 2022 season.

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