Tigers’ Future Bright Under Al Avila


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The Detroit Tigers were recently recognized as holding one of Major League Baseball’s best farm systems. MLB Pipeline announced on February 26th that the Tigers cracked the Top 10 farm systems list, sitting at #10. While it may be the very bottom half of the Top 10, it’s a position the Tigers haven’t been in quite some time.

Current general manager Al Avila took over the team on August 4th, 2015. Avila replaced Dave Dombrowski, who days prior had finished selling off team veterans for prospects. A few names Tigers fans will recognize include JaCoby Jones (via Pittsburgh), Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd (via Toronto) and Michael Fulmer (via New York Mets).

However, it was Al Avila’s time to put his stamp on this team. He attempted to compete in 2016, and at the deadline, the Tigers were one of the hottest teams in the MLB. Major free agent signing Justin Upton was beginning to find a groove, Miguel Cabrera was starting to show flashes of his former self, and Justin Verlander was having himself a Cy Young campaign. In addition, Michael Fulmer was also in the midst of an eventual Rookie of the Year campaign. If Detroit could make it into October, they could make some noise.

Avila and the Tigers made an August trade for infielder Erick Aybar for the stretch run. Unfortunately, Detroit missed the postseason by two games. In hindsight, the Tigers did well to not trade off what little they had in the way of quality prospects, as the team found the basement again the very next season. Of note, in the first round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft, Avila selected high school right-hander Matt Manning 9th overall and college arm Kyle Funkhouser 115th overall.

The Tigers were the worst team record-wise in 2017, and “won” the right for the first overall selection in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft. Avila stockpiled the team’s pitching depth again by drafting college righty Alex Faedo 18th overall. Avila also made the difficult decision to trade franchise icon, Justin Verlander.

Verlander went to the Houston Astros with seconds to spare at the waiver trade deadline in exchange for outfielder Daz Cameron, pitcher Franklin Perez, and catcher Jake Rodgers. The veteran went on to win the World Series with Houston.

The Tigers also acquired their current third baseman, Jeimer Candelario, and top prospect Issac Parades in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. The biggest prize of the Avila tenure to date came in the 2018 Draft. Detroit selected right-hander Casey Mize 1st overall, and he is currently the #17 prospect in the league. The Tigers also grabbed outfielder Parker Meadows and second baseman Kody Clemens in that draft and moved Leonys Martin at the trade deadline for shortstop Willi Castro.

MLB Pipeline revealed the Tigers’ Top 30 prospects not too long ago. Out of the Tigers Top 30, 23 of those prospects were acquired in some way by Avila. The aforementioned names such as Mize, Faedo, Manning, Parades, Castro, Clemens, Meadows, and Funkhouser headline the Top 30 list. The Tigers also have potential in shortstop Wenceel Perez, outfielder Brock Deatherage, and right-hander Zac Houston.

The farm system for Detroit is not perfect. However, since Avila has taken over, the future for the Tigers has improved. The front office has the 5th pick in the upcoming June draft, so it seems as if the Tigers farm will only continue to improve. It has been a few years since Tigers fans have been able to say this, but the future is bright in Detroit.

Featured Image: Carlos Orosio/Associated Press

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