Tigers fans should keep an eye on these prospects
By now, Detroit Tigers’ fans are familiar with the organization’s top prospects – Riley Greene, Jackson Jobe, Dillion Dingler, Ty Madden and a few others. While the Tigers will count on those players in the not too distant future, every winning MLB franchise needs a cast of unsung prospects to fill the gaps and even rise to stardom from time to time.
This season, starting pitcher Beau Brieske has filled that unsung prospect void. A 27th round 2019 draft choice, Brieske has made eight starts for the Detroit Tigers this spring, albeit with mixed results.
Today, Motor City Bengals takes a look at five minor leaguers, who are mostly unsung and unfamiliar with all but the most dedicated Tigers’ observers. There’s no scientific method involved and, too be fair, most of the following players have been on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Prospects list for the Tigers:
Kerry Carpenter, Outfielder, Erie
Until this season, Carpenter had gone mostly unnoticed in the Tigers organization. Unrated by MLB Pipeline, the 24-year-old left handed swinging outfielder posted decent numbers a season ago, notching with 15 home runs and 74 RBI.
Fast forward a year and Carpenter is hitting like an all-star. Heading into Sunday’s action, he has a nice slash of .333/.396/.720. Toss in 19 homers and 40 RBI and you’ve got a player who should be jumping up a level to Toledo in the very near future.
It’s easy to get enamored with minor league numbers. A truer barometer of Carpenter’s prospect status will be discovered when he lands in the Mud Hens lineup. Should he continue to be productive, Carpenter is exactly the kind of find every Major League organization is looking for.
Garrett Hill, Starting Pitcher, Toledo
If you’ve read much about prospects, you know the phrase “old for his level.” And I’m sure that’s been said of Hill, who has posted big numbers the past two season. Before being promoted to the Mud Hens a few weeks ago, Hill was off to a spectacular start with Erie. He struck out 14.6 batters per nine innings, had an ERA of 2.25 and a WHIP of 0.96.
At 26, Hill was probably old for Double-A. Ranked at No. 25 on the Top 30 list, his stay in Toledo has gotten off to a rocky start with an ERA north of seven and a WHIP of 1.7.
Austin Bergner, Starting Pitcher, Erie
Bergner, a 6-foot-5 right hander, is in his third season and is ranked as the No. 28 prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline. His numbers in Erie are solid with a 2.59 ERA, 8.5 strikeouts per 9 innings and a WHIP of 0.98.
If he has a future in the Major Leagues, the Pipeline evaluators believe it will be in the bullpen. “He pitches off a fastball that approaches the mid-90s. As a reliever, he could pair that with a fading changeup and mix in a slow curveball.”
Reese Olson, Starting Pitcher, Erie
Of the players mentioned here, Olson most likely has the highest upside. Just 22 years old, he has posted a 3.20 ERA to go along with a strikeout per inning and a WHIP of 1.00.
Olson is rated as Detroit’s No. 16 prospect but with continued development should rise in those rankings. He uses a fastball, slider, changeup mix and isn’t labeled a power pitcher by MLB Pipeline despite velocity that reaches the mid-90s. “His rising strikeout rate is worth following, but refinement is still needed before he can profile in a Major League rotation.”
Wenceel Perez, Second Base, West Michigan
If it seems like Perez has been in the Tigers organization for a long time, it’s because he has. He started off in the Dominican Summer League way back in 2017 as a 17-year-old.
Since then, he has made a steady progression through the system and this season is putting it together at the plate with 22 extra base hits, including nine homers. Originally a shortstop, Perez has seen the bulk of his playing time at second base this season.
What’s troubling is that he has played 16 of his 47 games at DH. Still just 22 years old, playing that many games at DH at such a young age is an indictment of his glove work. Unranked by MLB Pipeline, Perez’ path to the Big Leagues might be narrow.