Detroit Tigers Bet on Potential with Hiura Signing, Dickerson Trade


The Detroit Tigers are making calculated moves to strengthen their team for the 2024 season and beyond. By signing Keston Hiura and trading for Blake Dickerson, they’re focusing on both the present and future.

Hiura’s signing is seen as a chance for a comeback, offering the team a potential high-reward scenario. Dickerson brings valuable left-handed pitching depth to the farm system.

These moves are part of the Tigers’ broader strategy to build a competitive team. They aim to mix experienced players with prospects, ensuring a balance of immediate impact and long-term growth. 

Keston Hiura: A Potential Diamond in the Rough

Keston Hiura’s journey from a highly touted prospect to signing a minor-league deal with the Detroit Tigers is a tale of highs and lows. He burst onto the scene in 2019, posting a .303 batting average with 19 home runs in just 84 games. Since then, Hiura’s performance has been marred by inconsistency. His batting average dipped to a concerning .238, and his strikeout rate soared in 2022, raising questions about his viability as a consistent major leaguer. However, his minor league resurgence in 2023, marked by a .311 average and 23 home runs, suggests a potential rebound.

The Tigers’ Calculated Gamble

The Tigers’ decision to sign Hiura to a minor-league contract is a calculated risk with potentially high rewards. This move allows the Tigers an inexpensive look at a player who has shown flashes of brilliance in the past. Hiura’s right-handed power could offer the Tigers depth at first base, second base and third base. However, his high strikeout rate and defensive limitations pose questions about his ability to secure a regular spot on the roster.

As a right-handed hitter, his struggles against left-handed pitching are unique. Yet, his success against right-handed pitchers, with a career OPS of .840 and 43 home runs in 743 plate appearances, highlights his potential value in a platoon role. With Andy Ibanez mashing against left-handed pitching in 2023, a roster spot may very well come down to a competition with Zach McKinstry. Regardless, this minor-league agreement allows the Tigers to evaluate Hiura’s performance in spring training closely, with minimal financial commitment. 

The Road Ahead for Hiura

As the Tigers assess Hiura’s fit within their lineup, the focus will be on his ability to reduce strikeouts and contribute defensively. While the road to a major league comeback is steep, Hiura’s power and potential for improvement make him an intriguing watch in the Tigers’ camp.

Acquiring Young Talent: LHP Blake Dickerson

The trade for 19-year-old left-handed pitching prospect Blake Dickerson from the San Diego Padres is a forward-looking move by the Tigers. By exchanging $500,000 of International bonus pool money for Dickerson, the Tigers have demonstrated their valuation of the young pitcher’s potential. Drafted by the Padres in the 12th round of the 2023 draft but signed for a significantly higher bonus, Dickerson’s acquisition also reflects the Tigers’ strategic investment in young, high-upside talent.

Dickerson’s Promise on the Mound

At 6-foot-6, Dickerson possesses the physical frame that scouts dream of in a pitching prospect. With a repertoire that includes a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a promising changeup, and an above-average slider, Dickerson brings a lot to the table. His 6-foot-6 frame offers the potential for further physical development, which could elevate his average pitching velocity. Baseball America’s projection of Dickerson as a future No. 4 starter underscores his potential impact on the Tigers’ pitching staff.

Building a Left-Handed Presence

The addition of Dickerson to the Tigers’ farm system is also strategic move. A move to balance minor league rosters that lean heavily towards right-handed prospects. His left-handed pitching not only adds depth but also provides the Tigers with a variety of options for managing matchups and leveraging strategic advantages against opponents.

Enhancing Team Chemistry

Dickerson also injects a dynamic of pre-existing chemistry into the farm system. Dickerson’s history with Tigers’ top draft picks, OF Max Clark and SS Kevin McGonigle, began on Team USA’s U-18 team. Much like we’ve seen with Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson, comfort among players can foster a cohesive development environment. It could certainly help accelerate their progression through the minors. Moreover, Dickerson’s acquisition alongside other promising prospects, is another signal of the Tigers’ commitment to cultivating a homegrown talent pool capable of sustaining long-term success.

Tigers’ Bold Strategy Shaping 2024 and Beyond

The Detroit Tigers’ decisions to sign Keston Hiura and acquire Blake Dickerson balances short-term flexibility with long-term potential. Hiura’s signing is a low-risk, high-reward move that could pay dividends if he manages to harness his early career form. On the other hand, Dickerson’s acquisition is a clear investment in the future, adding a promising left-handed pitcher to a system in need of balance. 


For more from our Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21


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Original Photo Credit: © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK