Tigers reportedly calling up No. 6 prospect for MLB debut, sending down struggling slugger

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

Update: The Tigers are optioning Spencer Torkelson to Toledo, per Free Press writer Evan Petzold.

Trading for Justyn-Henry Malloy, a sixth-round draft pick for the Atlanta Braves back in 2021, was one of president of baseball operations Scott Harris' first acts in his post with the Tigers back in 2022. Before leaving the Braves' organization, Malloy had rocketed from High-A to Triple-A in just one season, hitting .289 across levels with a .862 OPS.

He peaked at No. 7 in the Tigers' top 30 in 2023, maintaining consistent numbers at the plate while also leading the minors in walks with 110. He was present at Tigers spring training in Lakeland, where he batted .260 with a handful of homers but, pretty unsurprisingly, didn't make the big league roster with the outfield locked down by Riley Greene, Kerry Carpenter, Mark Canha, and Parker Meadows.

Almost 60 games into the season, Carpenter was sidelined this week with spinal-inflammation-turned-spinal-fracture (yikes), and Meadows was sent back down to Triple-A on May 7 after the Tigers ran out of patience for his offensive production.

Quadruple-A Tiger Akil Baddoo was called up to fill in for Carpenter, but despite his triple and homer in his six games since coming back to the majors, he might be headed back to Toledo soon enough. Per Evan Petzold of The Detroit Free Press, the Tigers are expected to call up Malloy for his MLB debut ahead of their series against the Rangers.

Tigers expected to call up No. 6 prospect Justyn-Henry Malloy for MLB debut ahead of Rangers series

Malloy is hitting .253 with a .883 OPS this year in Triple-A, with six homers, 27 RBI, and 39 walks so far, for a remarkable walk rate of 20.1%. He's also striking out a little more this year, but that points to a growing willingness to take a chance at pitches instead of leaning on his uncanny plate discipline. However, that discipline will hopefully work wonders on the Tigers' lineup, which is still pretty free-swinging despite some help from Canha and Greene's patience.

The Tigers will head to Texas after coming off of a split series against the Red Sox, capped off by a nice 8-4 victory over Boston thanks to some extra-inning heroics from Andy Ibáñez, Carson Kelly, and even Javy Báez. They'll still be sitting one game under .500 when they take on the reigning World Series champs, but that kind of feel-good win to avoid a series loss makes the conditions for Malloy's MLB debut much friendlier.