The Tigers farm system is offering hope for the franchise's future, particularly at Double-A Erie.
The Seawolves were well represented in Monday's prospect "hot sheet" by Baseball America, which lists its hottest prospects from the previous week. Three of the 20 prospects are at Erie, led by Baseball America's hottest prospect from the past week, right-hander Casey Mize.
Catcher Jake Rogers (No. 6) and right-hander Matt Manning (No. 16) also are on the list.
Mize, the No. 1 overall pick last June out of Auburn, is off to a sensational start to the season that included a no-hitter in his Double-A debut. He followed that up with five two-hit innings in a victory over Bowie on Saturday.
In six starts between Single-A Lakeland and Erie this season, the 22-year-old Mize has allowed one earned run, covering 40 innings (0.23 ERA). He has 36 strikeouts, compared to just two walks.
"Few first-round picks, even No. 1 overall picks, do this," Baseball America executive editor J.J. Cooper writes. "It’s bringing back memories of Mark Prior’s quick run through the minors (79 strikeouts, 57 baserunners in 51 innings) or Stephen Strasburg’s (1.30 ERA, 65-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 55.1 innings).
"It’s not a guarantee of future dominance. ... But most pitchers who do this don’t spend a lot of time in the minors. Mize is on the fast track. He’s yet to be challenged by high Class A or Double-A, and he already has roughly as many innings in the minors as Prior or Strasburg received before their callups. Don’t expect to see Mize jump up to Detroit just yet, but a few more weeks like this and another promotion may be in line."
Rogers, 24, has mostly been known his defense, with his bat remaining the big question. He clubbed three home runs this past week, going 7-for-20 (.350) to raise his season slash line to .274/.413/.548. Rogers was part of the return in the Justin Verlander trade with Houston in 2017.
"Our reports on Rogers typically lead with glowing remarks on his defense," Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. "He's one of the top defensive catchers in the minors, with a rocket arm and advanced receiving skills. He earns high marks from his pitchers and opposing scouts for his ability to call a game and manage a pitching staff, with Rogers the man behind the plate for Casey Mize's no-hitter. ... But now Rogers is also doing damage with his bat ..."
Manning, 21, was the Tigers' top draft pick in 2016. And, though he split a pair of decisions last week, he did strike out 18 in 13 innings. He's 3-1 on the season with a 2.27 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP, with 50 strikeouts and just eight walks in 35.2 innings.
"Manning is part of what has turned into arguably the minor’s best prospect pitching rotation ..." Baseball America's Justin Coleman writes. "Manning normally attacks hitters with a fastball-curveball combo, but (he is) starting to see improved results from his changeup. He has seen his control wane from time to time, walking one hitter in his last start and three the start prior. Even with average control, Manning is beginning to look the part of a mid-rotation starter for the Tigers."