Detroit Tigers Youth Problem


A week before spring training began, I wrote an article on Detroit Tigers outfielder Parker Meadows called “Don’t sleep on Parker Meadows”. As much as I saw him play at West Michigan and Erie last season, I thought keeping things in perspective about his talent was important and more than likely, he would start the season in Toledo.

But after Saturday’s 16-7 win over the Atlanta Braves, one thing is clear. Meadows is making an effective case to make the Opening Day roster. He went yard twice today, finishing the day going 3-for-3 with 4RBIs. Meadows is now 9-for-26 on the spring (.346) Matt Vierling has been shut down with a right knee strain, which is the case why Parker has been getting more reps

As far as Meadows making the roster? That has yet to be determined. Since 1970, the Tigers have had only two players make the Opening Day roster without spending a day in Triple-A, according to a deep dive on Statcast this evening. Elliot Maddox in 1970 and Chris Pittaro in 1985.

Andre Lipcius has a glove for everything.

With Tyler Nevin out with a mild oblique strain, Lipcius has been seeing time both at first and third. He went 1-for-4 with a double on Saturday and is batting .306 on the spring. Lipcius’s glove is what will help him make the team. As Hinch indicated in the off-season, he could even see sometime in the outfield, but for now, he has been able to hold down the corners. He can play second, but that has been held down so far by César Hernández, who is a non-roster invite, and Jermaine Palacios.

Which leads us to second base. It has been a hot button topic since spring training has begun. Tigers fans have been focusing their attention on the performance of Jonathan Schoop through the WBC and the small amount of time he has been in camp. Schoop’s biggest asset is his glove, but if the offense continues to struggle, that leaves the Tigers a problem. Lipcius can hit righties and lefties around the same clip in the minors (.278 RH, .271 LH)  but against righties, he hits for more power (10 HR). Does he belong on the roster? Absolutely, but as a starting second baseman, more reps before that is even a possibility or Detroit may roll with Hernandez as a backup who sees a lot of time.

The Tigers “youth problem” is a problem that Detroit should have had years ago. There is reason why national pundits are skeptical about the Tigers’ young talent. The results have not been there despite drafting high in past drafts. However, the recent work by player development is giving Tigers fans young players that have upside. Whatever the record ends up being for the Tigers in 2023, one result Tigers fans should expect. Turing a problem into a strength. Tigers fans, even the most cynical ones, would at least watch if the younger players produce. Ask any fan who remembers players from the 1984 core who made their debut. Or players like Jason Thompson and Steven Kemp. Both were positional players that contributed and brought through the system.

2023 should be the year Detroit gives themselves an identity. If players like Lipcius, Carpenter, Baddoo and Meadows are at least average players, it’s a start to competitive baseball.

Follow me on Twitter @rogcastbaseball

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Spencer Torkelson in a three-act play. 

Photo Credit: Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK