TODAY: The Tigers officially selected Brieske’s contract in between games of today’s doubleheader with Colorado. Right-hander Angel De Jesus was optioned to Triple-A, and righty Kyle Funkhouser was moved to the 60-day IL to create 40-man roster space.
APRIL 21: The Tigers announced this afternoon that right-hander Beau Brieske will start Saturday’s game against the Rockies. The 24-year-old will be making his major league debut. Brieske is not on the 40-man roster, so Detroit will need to make another move in that regard to formally accommodate the selection of his contract.
Brieske signed for just $75K as a 27th-round pick out of Division II Colorado State-Pueblo in 2019. The Arizona native overcame that lack of draft pedigree to reach the big leagues less than three years later, a testament to his strong work in the minors. Brieske pitched well in 11 relief appearances during his post-draft summer. He didn’t appear in 2020 because of the canceled minor league season, but he traversed a pair of levels last year.
Assigned to High-A Lakeland to open the season, Brieske pitched to a 3.45 ERA with a stellar 30.2% strikeout rate over 13 starts. That earned him an August bump to Double-A Erie, where he posted a 2.66 mark in eight outings. Brieske’s strikeout rate fell to an average 23.3%, but he walked 6% of opponents or fewer at both levels.
That strong performance was paired with a better arsenal that caught the attention of prospect evaluators. Naming him the #18 prospect in the organization this past winter, Baseball America wrote that Brieske had pushed his fastball into the 92-95 MPH range with good life at the top of the strike zone. BA praised his average or better slider and changeup and above-average command and suggested he’d blossomed into a legitimate starting pitching prospect. Eric Longenhagen and Kevin Goldstein at FanGraphs largely echoed that sentiment in their write-up of the Tigers’ farm in January, slotting him #10 in the system.
Brieske opened this season with Triple-A Toledo, where he’s allowed five runs in ten innings over his first two starts. Despite his lack of experience at the minors’ highest level, the Tigers will add him to an MLB rotation that has lost Casey Mize and Matt Manning to the injured list in recent days. Manning, in particular, is expected back in fairly short order, at which point Brieske might wind up optioned back to the minors. Whether his initial call is a lengthy one, Brieske’s addition to the 40-man solidifies him as a near-term depth option for the Detroit rotation.