Former Tigers prospect makes MLB debut in Oakland

Former Tigers pitching prospect Jack O'Loughlin has finally made his MLB debut
Oakland Athletics Spring Training
Oakland Athletics Spring Training / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Jack O'Loughlin spent six years pitching in the Tigers organization but never got a chance to make his MLB debut. That changed on Sunday afternoon, as the lefty became the 38th player from Australia to make it to the majors.

O'Loughlin pitched well in his first outing with Oakland, throwing 3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts and a walk in an Athletics' loss. He hasn't pitched since Sunday but remains on the active roster thanks to a bevy of injuries to the A's pitching staff.

His addition to the 40-man was a curious one, to be honest. O'Loughlin was pitching to mixed results in Triple-A before the call-up. He'd posted a 5.12 ERA in 38.2 innings, starting 8 of the 10 games he pitched in. He had an encouraging 25.6% strikeout rate in that time but his results on contact weren't favorable.

That was a bit of a carryover from 2023, and a big part of why the Tigers let him walk in minor league free agency this past winter. O'Loughlin looked sharp in High-A but struggled after his promotion to Triple-A last summer. He'd also never had big-time prospect pedigree so the Tigers chose to part ways with the lefty and focus on the development of other players.

Former Tigers' prospect Jack O'Loughlin looked sharp in his MLB debut

In total, O'Loughlin has a 3.76 career ERA in the minors but much of that success has come at lower levels. He's functioned primarily as a starter in Triple-A and has pitched to a 4.88 ERA there in 28 appearances.

It's unclear whether the Aussie can retain this forward momentum. The A's bullpen has been surprisingly effective this year but four of the five guys in their Opening Day rotation are currently on the IL. With another strong performance or two, O'Loughlin could find himself in the majors for an extended period of time.

If he'd remained in the Tigers' system, he might not have had the chance to make the majors. The Tigers have one of the more reliable starting rotations in baseball, currently 11th by ERA and tied for 4th by FIP.

The bullpen has been a bit less effective but just 10 relievers have made an appearance in Detroit this year. The Tigers' problem is the offense, and the bullpen hasn't struggled enough to warrant major changes to this point.

For now, O'Loughlin is better off with a team that will give him the opportunity to pitch in the majors. Hopefully it keeps working out for him.