Picking first in the upcoming draft won’t be quite as advantageous as usual, as the Tigers will only have between five and ten rounds to utilize their advantage. But it’s still an exciting opportunity to infuse big-time talent into an organization that has patiently awaited a return to competitiveness. The Tigers are sorting through a long list of possibilities; you can familiarize yourself with many of them by checking out Baseball America’s first top 500 draft prospect list.
Here’s the latest from the Detroit organization:
- Tigers analytics chief Jay Sartori held an interesting chat with Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic (subscription link) about the team’s efforts to construct an analytics department over the past several years. He now oversees a “robust staff,” he says, after an “incremental” building process that started from a mostly blank slate. Sartori came aboard in November of 2015, not long after Al Avila was hired as GM. So what are the Tigers focused on in this realm? Sartori says it’s the question of how to make “complicated concepts and data sets and pieces of information readily accessible to staff and players?”
- Making analytics work for ballplayers is now a big part of the job for MLB coaches. Tigers hitting coach Joe Vavra acknowledged that, saying that he’s working on “challenging [hitters] to come out of their comfort zone a little bit” when it comes to data and advanced analysis, as Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reported recently. Applying analytics requires “baby steps” at the start, says Vavra, and the organization is trying to get its players to take as many as possible during the present hiatus. Otherwise, the team is handling all its players differently. For some, Vavra is helping to oversee “rather major adjustments to your mechanics and your swing;” for others, it’s mostly a matter of maintaining conditioning.
- Detroit pitching coach Rick Anderson also just chatted with media, as Stavenhagen covers in a Twitter thread. Anderson says it was disappointing to see Spring Training halted because he wanted to see more of the team’s slate of prized upper-level pitching prospects. Even more worrying, perhaps, is the lack of anticipated minor-league competition. The organization doesn’t seem to have a clear idea yet as to how it’ll make up for the lost developmental opportunity, though obviously that’s an industry-wide issue.
- Though the focus remains largely on the future, the Tigers did go out and make some notable potential improvements to the MLB infield mix. McCosky examines a unit that now includes anticipated regular veterans in most spots. C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, and Austin Romine are slated to earn a combined $16.3MM — at least, in a full 2020 season. The shortstop position was due to feature Niko Goodrum and Jordy Mercer, with third base handled by Jeimer Candelario and/or other unproven players such as Dawel Lugo and Isaac Paredes. While most of the options on the left side of the infield will remain under team control beyond 2020, the new additions were all on one-year pacts. McCosky looks at the potential line of succession in all areas.