Tigers camp: Top storylines, prospects to watch, intriguing invitees

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Nick Castellanos

In addition to the position battles in the rotation, bullpen and second base, here are other top storylines to follow during the Tigers’ 2019 spring camp.

1. The return of Miguel Cabrera: With five years and $154 million left on his contract, can the face of the franchise stay healthy and re-establish himself as one of the game's premier hitters? 

2. Will Nick stick? Nick Castellanos will be a free agent after this season. The Tigers have been open to trade offers this offseason, but didn't get so much as a nibble. Will he be more enticing to teams by the trade deadline? 

3. New guys: The Tigers have brought in some veteran players, most of them looking for bounce-back seasons, like pitchers Tyson Ross and Matt Moore. Longtime Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer replaces Jose Iglesias. Former White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham will also get a chance to win a spot. 

4. Time to shine:For catcher Grayson Greiner, left fielder Christin Stewart, center fielder JaCoby Jones and third baseman Jeimer Candelario, 2019 could be either a breakout or break up year. 

5. Busting out: It's been a frustrating last couple of seasons for former rookie of the year Michael Fulmer. He has been beset by niggling injuries and hasn't fully recaptured the dominance he showed in 2016. He's as healthy and determined as he's ever been.  If he is back on form, will that hasten his departure from Detroit in July? 

Camp prospects to watch

Starting pitchers: Kyle Funkhouser, Franklin Perez, Casey Mize

Relief pitcher: Zac Houston

Catcher: Jake Rogers

Infielders: Willi Castro, Sergio Alcantara

Outfielders: Daz Cameron, Jacob Robson, Danny Woodrow

Intriguing non-roster invitees

Pitchers: Jose Cisnero (30, former Astro, signed out of Mexican League); Chris Smith (30, former Blue Jay, mid-90s fastball); Eduardo Paredes (23, former Angel, mid-90s fastball); Kaleb Cowart (27, former Angels infielder trying to transition to a two-way player)

Catcher: Hector Sanchez (29, seven-year veteran with Giants and Padres); Bobby Wilson (35, nine-year vet, former Tigers backup in 2016)

Outfielder: Dustin Peterson (24, on the 40-man roster; former Braves prospect, plays corner outfield and will battle Mikie Mahtook and Victor Reyes for the fourth outfielder spot)

Projected starting lineup

C – Grayson Greiner

1B – Miguel Cabrera

2B – Niko Goodrum

SS – Jordy Mercer

3B – Jeimer Candelario

LF – Christin Stewart

CF – JaCoby Jones

RF – Nick Castellanos

DH – John Hicks

Key dates

Tuesday: Pitchers and catchers report.

Sunday: Full squad reports.

Monday, Feb. 18: First full squad workout.

Friday, Feb. 22: First spring game vs. Southeastern University, at Lakeland, 1:05 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 23: First Grapefruit League game vs. Toronto, at Dunedin, 1:05 p.m.

Thursday, March 28: Opening day at Toronto. 3:37 p.m.

Thursday, April 4: Tigers’ home opener, vs. Kansas City, 1:10 p.m.


Twitter: @cmccosky