As the Tigers finish up their time this spring in Lakeland, there were some clear winners and losers. Some of the Tigers premier prospects suffered injury, while others shined in their time in Florida.
Goodrum was the surprise of the spring for me. He is in line to make the team out of camp as a utility bench player, after the release of veteran Alexi Amarista. Originally drafted in the 2nd round and brought up by the Twins, Goodrum was a non-roster invite this spring after signing as a free agent this winter. He has posted great offensive numbers and has been a playing all over the field. His OPS of 1.041 and .300/.341/.700, were all outstanding. He slugged 4 home runs, 4 doubles, and stole 3 bases. If anyone can replace the departed Andrew Romine in the super utility role, I think Goodrum has the best chance. If Dixon Machado struggles at 2B to start the year, he could steal some starts there as well. He is a Tiger to watch on this rebuilding team.
Reyes is a winner only because of his Rule 5 status. He is likely to secure one of the reserve outfield spots along with Jacoby Jones. Reyes has had an OK spring, considering he has never spent time above AA. He hasn’t shown any power (which isn’t surprising), but I was shocked that he didn’t swipe a base or two. For the spring he hit .255/.296/.294. He looks to start the year as a defensive replacement but won’t have much value in fantasy until his bat and speed show up at the major league level.
While not making the team out of spring training, the former 15th round pick was nothing but impressive in his time with the big league team. Hitting .350, with an OBP of .435, Gerber mashed in his stint with the team. I’ve been called out on my love for Gerber, but the kid does nothing but produce wherever he plays. He’ll start the year in AAA Toledo, but he is an injury or strong start of the year away from the majors.
Jimenez’s 2017 struggles with the big league team were odd for his body of work. He seemed out of sorts at the end of last year and seems to be finding his groove. This spring he’s earned his spot in a bullpen that has been pretty impressive. He pitched 9 solid innings this spring to a 3.00 ERA, with a save, 15 strikeouts, and a 1.33 WHIP. While he won’t earn the closer role, he should be in the mix in the back of the bullpen as the 7th or 8th inning guy. If and when Shane Greene and/or Alex Wilson are traded, barring a revival of last year’s struggles, he could be in line for saves toward the end of the year. As of now, he is only useful in leagues that track holds. He is worth keeping an eye on.
Perez is one of the bigger losers of this spring. While working with the minor league squad, he suffered a lat strain in his right arm. Due to this he will not be pitching for a minimum of 12 weeks. Because of that his development takes a hit. I would not be surprised if he sticks in AA all year, a repeat of last year’s level. I thought he could crack the AAA line up, but with his injury it looks like he may be another year away from the bigs.
Manning is another vicim of the injury bug that plagued Tigers minor leaguers. Suffering from a oblique strain, he is on the shelf until he is feeling better. As with Perez, this just delays his development and I don’t think he gets to High-A like most people were hoping this year. The Tigers have announced that once healthy he’ll rehab in extended Spring Training and then return to Low-A West Michigan.
Rodriguez is the big loser of Niko Goodrum‘s impressive spring. Rodriguez hit .297 with an OBP of .333, but didn’t show any power and only stole one base. Because his bat was worse than that of Goodrum, he just couldn’t find a spot as a utility player. He is likely to start his year in Toledo, and his path to the majors is blocked by both Jacoby Jones and Goodrum, as both can play the positions he can.
Garica is probably the biggest loser of spring training. One of the biggest risers last year, he could have fought for a bullpen spot this spring. Instead he had to undergo Tommy John surgery in February. He doesn’t look to return until sometime in 2019 and his development is really hurt because of that.
Article featured image of Niko Goodrum – courtesy Tigers on Twitter