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At some point this season, it seems more than likely the Detroit Tigers will welcome some of their top prospects to Comerica Park.
In the meantime, those young players will call FIfth Third Field in Toledo home, making the Mud Hens potentially a must-see outfit in 2020.
The Tigers' Triple-A affiliate ranks No. 2 among Baseball America's top 10 potential minor-league "super teams" for 2020, identifying squads that should be chock full of high-end prospects.
The Mud Hens will be led by what Baseball America's Josh Norris calls "one of the nastiest projected rotations in the minors," likely led by 2018 No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize (No. 13 in Baseball America's preseason top 100), but also including two other starters ranked among Baseball America's top 40 prospects in Matt Manning (17) and Tarik Skubal (34).
"(Mize) was dominant at two levels before his shoulder started barking (last season)," Norris writes. "He’ll be backed up by athletic fireballer Matt Manning, upstart lefty Tarik Skubal and righty Alex Faedo, who bounced back in a big way in 2019."
Mize was a combined 8-3 with a 2.55 ERA and 0.94 WHIP across Single-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie last season, tossing a no-hitter in his debut with the SeaWolves. Manning and Faedo were Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, in the Eastern League in strikeouts last season with Erie, with Manning adding an 11-5 record and 2.56 ERA to boot.
Skubal tore through Lakeland and Erie, fanning 179 in 122.1 innings combined.
Also expected in Toledo is third baseman Isaac Paredes, who is ranked No. 100 overall by Baseball America and has shown both maturity and a strong work ethic during his rise through the Tigers' system following a 2017 trade from the Chicago Cubs.
Outfielder Daz Cameron, catcher Jake Rogers and shortstop Willi Castro also are singled out among the Mud Hens' noteworthy prospects. All three were in Toledo last season, with Rogers and Castro making their Tigers debuts late in the season.
Toledo opens its season April 9 with a four-game series at Indianapolis. Toledo's home opener is April 16, also against Indianapolis.