Meet new Detroit Tigers pitcher Beau Brieske

Detroit Tigers right handed pitching prospect Beau Brieske throws during minor-league minicamp Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, at TigerTown in Lakeland, Florida.
Detroit Tigers right handed pitching prospect Beau Brieske throws during minor-league minicamp Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, at TigerTown in Lakeland, Florida. /

The newest Detroit Tigers pitcher comes with an amazing story.

Detroit Tigers fans are understandably preoccupied with Miguel Cabrera’s chase for 3,000 hits right now. It’s the sort of historic event fans might see once in their lifetime, if they’re lucky.

Comerica Park is going to be jam-packed today. Temperatures are expected to approach 80 degrees (27 degrees for our Canadian friends), it’s a doubleheader, and Detroit Tigers fans are going to witness history, one way or another.

There’s a strong chance Miguel Cabrera gets at least one hit today and ticks off another remarkable accomplishment in the twilight of his career. But don’t forget about Game 2 starter Beau Briekse, who his making some history of his own.

Tigers fans who follow the minor leagues may already know of Beau Brieske. His ascent to the major leagues has been improbable, but not unnoticed. We had him ranked as the 15th best prospect in the Detroit Tigers farm system heading into this season, roughly in the middle of his rankings at FanGraphs (10th) and MLB Pipeline (22nd).

And while it’s true the Detroit Tigers are currently plagued by injuries to their pitching staff, the decision to add Beau Brieske to their 40-man roster and call him up to Detroit wasn’t made out of panic or a lack of options. The Tigers could have called up Alex Faedo instead, or brought back Elvin Rodriguez, or enlisted Joey Wentz. Those aren’t necessarily good options, but all three of those pitchers are already on the 40-man roster.

The Tigers called up Beau Brieske because he gives them the best chance to win.

What Makes Beau Brieske Unique

The Detroit Tigers selected Beau Brieske in the 27th round of the 2019 draft, with the 802nd overall pick, and signed him to a $75,000 bonus. To reiterate, there were 801 players drafted ahead of Beau Brieske. Only eight have reached the majors before him.

Of those 801 players taken ahead of Brieske, 432 were pitchers. Just four hurlers beat him to the big leagues: first rounders Nick Lodolo (7th) and Alek Manoah (11th), and fourth rounders Matt Brash (113th) and Andre Pallante (125th).

That’s pretty remarkable for a 27th rounder. How remarkable?

The MLB draft began in 1965, and in its 56 years of existence just 46 players* have signed in the 27th round and gone on to reach the majors. Only four made it to the big leagues faster than Brieske, in terms of years. And no 27th-rounder has ever reached the big leagues in fewer games. Beau Brieske pitched in just 34 games in the minors.

His arrival is a testament to his hard work, but it’s also a huge win for the Tigers scouting and development groups.

*Oddly enough, the Tigers already have the most 27th rounders to reach the majors, with four (George Cappuzello, John Martin, Will Rhymes, Joe Mantiply). Brieske makes it five.

What to Expect from Beau Brieske

Anyone can get caught up in the moment in their MLB debut. There’s no telling how Beau Brieske might react or perform tonight. But so far in his minor-league career he has shown terrific poise, and the sort of command to avoid getting himself into too much trouble. He has walked more than three batters just once in his professional career, and that was in 2019.

Brieske made his Triple-A debut just two weeks ago, and it didn’t go great for him. He ran into some rough batted-ball luck, and he gave up a pair of home runs and five runs total in five innings. But he never stopped battling in the outing, and he was excellent in his second start, with five scoreless frames:

Brieske uses four pitches, and he shows solid command of all of them. His fastball tends to sit in the 92-94 MPH range, but he should touch 95 or even 96 a few times, and it works best when he’s locating it at the top of the zone.

His top secondary offering is a low-80s changeup with terrific velocity separation and occasional plus fade away from left-handed batters. He shows above-average command of his change, and he’ll use it in any count, against lefties or righties.

Brieske’s breaking balls aren’t quite as good, but they provide him with more options. His mid-80s slider is more of a vertical mover than a sharp late breaker, but it helps him avoid barrels. And his upper-70s curveball is a bit loopy and not a swing-and-miss offering, but he has proven adept at dropping it at the top of the zone to steal a strike.

He’ll probably struggle tonight — MLB hitters are awfully good, and his lack of a plus breaking ball may lead to struggles against right-handed hitters — but that shouldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of fans. Overall Beau Brieske has the look of a back-of-the-rotation starter. That’s not terribly sexy, but it’s an incredible value for a player taken so late in the draft. Fans should be excited about his future.

Miguel Cabrera will be the 33rd member of the 3,000 hit club. Beau Brieske will be the 47th member of the 27th-round club. Brieske’s club isn’t nearly as cool, but it’s almost as exclusive! What’s more, the draft has been shortened to 20 rounds now, so Brieske could be the last 27th rounder to reach the majors.

You never have to look far to find history in an MLB game.

Next. The Detroit Tigers still have a pitching problem. dark