Detroit Tigers occupy the bottom third in latest farm system rankings
Baseball America, ESPN, and others have the Detroit Tigers farm system among the worst in the game in their latest organization rankings
Graduations galore have made a once-well-stocked Detroit Tigers farm bare–and despite the bounty of depth pieces they have in the organization, most experts believe this is one of the worst systems in today’s game.
Following a trade deadline proves good timing to examine organizations with a fresh set of eyes. Not only do most draft picks have an opportunity to get their footing in the minor leagues at this point, but additions and subtractions are plentiful around the deadline with teams making changes to help their team today or tomorrow.
Baseball America recently came out with their farm system rankings; with the Detroit Tigers checking in at 27th; while ESPN ($) ranks the system 24th. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, who came up with their ranking, cited the graduations of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Spencer Torkelson, and Riley Greene as the main reason for the plunge, adding:
"“In terms of positive, I liked 2B Jace Jung and SS Peyton Graham as their top two picks and SS Colt Keith made the jump into Top 100 territory this year, but early returns on Jackson Jobe have been mixed at best. The organization’s hopes are now on players not eligible for this list anymore.”"
It’s an important distinction when comprehensively viewing the organization, especially considering young, controllable MLB talent is the hot commodity in today’s game. That said, this system speaks mainly to the struggles the organization has had with picks in later rounds–and by later, we mean second round and beyond.
They have undoubtedly improved their overall draft strategy with recent late-round finds like Tarik Skubal, Beau Brieske, and Kerry Carpenter–but perhaps too little, too late for a rebuild that started over half a decade ago now.
Calling the early returns on their young MLB talent mixed might be too kind–Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal both had significant arm injuries, Spencer Torkelson played himself out of a big league role, Riley Greene is striking out too much, and Matt Manning has been inconsistent while dealing with his injuries.
Yesterday’s system is the antithesis of what they boast today, though: depth. I wrote recently about how the system could no longer be categorized as top-heavy; which was a common criticism even when the organization ranked in the top five of all of baseball. That comes in part because there isn’t much at the top, but they have also amassed a decent amount of depth pieces that still hold upside with players like Ty Madden, Dylan Smith, Reese Olson, Wilmer Flores, Izaac Pacheco, Cristian Santana, Roberto Campos, Colt Keith, and others.
Even their top two prospects, Jackson Jobe and Jace Jung don’t come without significant question marks. In the case of Jobe, it’s his command. He’s averaging nearly a hit given up per inning while also allowing 12 home runs in 18 starts in Lakeland. Jung, meanwhile, has questions about his ultimate defensive home. If he cannot stick at second base, it puts immense pressure on the bat to realize its potential as a 1B/DH at the highest levels.
In short, showing high on a farm system ranking article doesn’t define the success or failure of an organization alone; but when it is coupled with the young MLB talent that has not performed to expectations, veterans performing severely below their career means, and an abysmal MLB product the six years prior, it is understandable why a change in leadership was ultimately decided.