2 Tigers that should come back to MLB roster, 1 who should be sent down to Triple-A

Apr 22, 2024; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers outfielder Parker Meadows (22) is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2024; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers outfielder Parker Meadows (22) is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
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The Detroit Tigers were incredibly enthusiastic about their young players in the offseason, and while it was sort of hard for fans to fully rally behind that enthusiasm in lieu of the team securing any top talent from the free agent market, the young Tigers did also give us a lot to be excited about.

Riley Greene was back from injury, Spencer Torkelson had a solid first year, Kerry Carpenter was projected to have another good offensive year. Parker Meadows was supposed to break out, and Colt Keith was the shiny new rookie on the block after signing a rare extension before making his MLB debut.

Things haven't exactly panned out according to plan, though. Carpenter got hurt, Torkelson was demoted, Meadows was demoted, and Keith has far from lived up to expectations.

However, all's not lost. The Toledo Mud Hens are third in the ILW, and a couple players there are leading the charge in hopes of a call up to the majors.

2 Tigers who should come back to MLB roster

Parker Meadows

Meadows was understandably demoted on May 7, after he struggled mightily in what was supposed to be a breakout year for him. His batting average fell to .100 just three games into the season and he could never get past that very low bar through 29 more games. The Tigers had to admit defeat for the time being and send him back to Triple-A to try his find his swing again.

And it seems like he's done just that. He's played 28 games in the minors since being optioned and has hit .288 with a great .923 OPS. He's also gotten back some of that power he was desperately missing in the majors, with six home runs, five doubles, and two triples in that span. The highlight of his year so far was a 3-for-3 night on June 5, when he hit two home runs and drove in three runs.

The Tigers have called up a few different replacements for the outfield since Meadows went down; currently, Akil Baddoo, Wenceel Pérez, and Justyn-Henry Malloy are platooned in the outfield, and Baddoo and Malloy are both struggling at the plate (especially Baddoo, who has a .259 OBP since he was called back up). Now might be the perfect time to give Meadows another drive.

Jace Jung

Jung has yet to make his major league debut, even though there have been some windows of opportunity the Tigers just haven't taken. Gio Urshela was absent for almost a month, from April 20 to May 14, with a hamstring strain and second/third baseman Jung could've been a perfect interim replacement for infield utilityman Urshela. However, Jung had less than 20 Triple-A games under his belt at that point after being promoted from Double-A to start the season.

But Jung has been fighting hard for that call up through almost 60 games in the minors; he's hitting just as well as Meadows, with a .283 average and .933 OPS on the season and .382/1.328 in the month of June. He had his own two-homer night on June 11, along with an extra RBI and two walks. He's walking a lot more than anyone expected, with a 16.5% walk rate versus a 10.2% projection from FanGraphs.

With Spencer Torkelson's more recent demotion, the Tigers have had to do some shuffling that's led to Mark Canha, Urshela, and even Colt Keith getting some reps at first base, Jung could fill the Urshela-Keith gap at second or third. His 60-rated power could be a massive help to the power-deficient Tigers.

1 Tiger who should be sent down to Triple-A

Colt Keith

Speaking of Keith, he may not be long for the majors either, which would leave the perfect gap for Jung to make his MLB debut. After Torkelson was demoted, attention turned to Keith, who is hitting just as badly as Torkelson was before he went down. Keith is batting .215 with a .544 OPS on the season and sitting at just 19 RBI in 59 games, but his last 15 games have been bleak: .138/.194/.276.

His defense has also left a lot to be desired; he has a -1 OAA to put him in the 30th percentile, and an overall fielding run value of -1 (41st percentile). He was involved in a rough collision with Akil Baddoo recently while both were pursuing a fly ball and neither seemed to communicate their intention to grab it to the other. Keith ended up being pulled from the game after the run-in.

In a recent interview with FanGraphs, Keith said "For me, it’s not about the stats or data right now. It’s a comfort-level thing. It’s about getting to the big leagues and slowing everything down." Okay, sure, but he's also had over a third of a season to get comfortable and has yet to do so.

It might be hard for the Tigers to swallow their pride and send Keith, their $28.6 million investment from the offseason, back to the minors, but it also took a lot to do just that to Torkelson, their first overall draft pick in 2020. With Jung just waiting in the wings and Keith plateauing in his struggles, now might be the time to admit defeat.

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