Tigers' trade return in Michael Lorenzen deal is lighting it up in Detroit's farm system

In the first inning, Erie SeaWolves baserunner Hao-Yu Lee steals third base against the New Hamshire Fisher Cats at UPMC Park in Erie on June 4, 2024.
In the first inning, Erie SeaWolves baserunner Hao-Yu Lee steals third base against the New Hamshire Fisher Cats at UPMC Park in Erie on June 4, 2024. / GREG WOHLFORD/ERIE TIMES-NEWS / USA
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By the time Michael Lorenzen was traded away from Detroit, he was actually looking pretty good for the Tigers as a reliever-turned-starter who'd only made the switch the year before with the Angels. He pitched 105 2/3 innings for Detroit, for a 3.58 ERA and a fantastic month of July, when he posted a 1.14 ERA over four outings and 23 2/3 innings. It was enough to net the Tigers a respectable return for him at the trade deadline.

Lorenzen ended up going to the Phillies, who sent back Taiwanese international signing Hao-Yu Lee in a 1:1 trade. It was president of baseball operations Scott Harris' first official trade in his new position, and it may be shaping up to be one of his best. Even though Lorenzen wasn't perfect for the Tigers, a game-ready starting pitcher with an ERA below 4.00 surely should've warranted a decent return.

The way Lee's been playing in Double-A certainly justifies Harris' decision. He's the Tigers' No. 13 prospect and is posting ridiculous numbers in the minors, hitting .418 with a 1.244 OPS over his last 16 games. That includes five homers, 19 RBI, and seven stolen bases.

Michael Lorenzen trade piece Hao-Yu Lee is carving out a place for himself in Tigers organization with ridiculous streak in Double-A

Lee is hitting .306 with a .912 across 61 games in Double-A, where he was promoted after hitting .283 with a .773 over 64 games with Philly's High-A affiliate. His short stint in High-A with the Tigers after the trade wasn't fantastic (.214 with a .741 OPS) and was cut short by an injury, but his work with the Phillies was enough to get him a promotion going into 2024 and an appearance on the Tigers' Spring Breakout showcase roster during spring training.

MLB Pipeline's scouting report notes his "strong walk rates, sneaky power and smart speed," but it doesn't give much credit to Lee's baserunning capability, which has been on full display during his 16-game stretch. He'd only stolen twice before June, but he's clearly felt bold and ready to turn on the burners over this span, which points to a player who's willing to do the work to diversify his toolbox and become a complete player in his journey to the majors.

While it feels unlikely that Lee will get a promotion to Triple-A this season (or, if he does, it won't be until well after the midway point), but he's certainly looking like a player that warrants a lot of attention both from fans and the Tigers' front office.

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