Top Tigers prospect Franklin Perez has been diagnosed with a right lat strain, per a team announcement. Though he isn’t expected to require surgery, Perez is going to be sidelined for “a minimum of 12 weeks.”
Perez, 20, was the centerpiece of the major, last-second swap that sent Justin Verlander from Detroit to the eventual world-champion Astros. He’s widely considered the Tigers’ top prospect and one of the fifty or so most promising pre-MLB players in baseball.
Certainly, the near-term Detroit rotation won’t be any different as a result of this news. Despite his immense promise, Perez was not going to be on the major-league roster to open the season. And there’s no reason to expect that Perez’s anticipated timeline for MLB readiness will be drastically altered — let alone that this is an injury that could jeopardize his future.
Still, the timing of the injury means that Perez will at least lose something like half of the coming season. With the Tigers sure to take an ultra-cautious approach to his rehab, and the need for a full reset of his throwing program, Perez may be sidelined for quite some time.
It’s certainly possible, then, that Perez’s ultimate MLB debut will end up being pushed back somewhat owing to the lat problem, which the team says arose in a recent minor-league spring outing. Given that he reached the Double-A level in 2017, Perez might have profiled as a potential candidate for a promotion as soon as the middle of the coming season.
While it would be foolish to guess at when Perez might now first be considered for a first appearance at the game’s highest level, the situation is now different for the rebuilding Tigers. That may not entirely be a bad thing — perhaps the club won’t face a service-time quandary this time next year, for instance — though surely the preference would be for the club’s prized farmhand to have a full and healthy season of development.