Going into last season, the Detroit Tigers didn’t have a prospect in the MLB pipeline top 100. Matt Manning, their first-round draft choice in 2016 was the number one ranked prospect in the system.
Fans seemed to be giving up on the Tigers before the 2017 season even started. However, things have changed as far as the farm system goes. After finishing tied for the worst record in MLB in 2017 along with the San Fransisco Giants, the Tigers earned the number one pick in this year’s draft after a decade of World Series or bust expectations. They are expected to struggle through the 2018 season to be better for the future. That starts with the prospects the Tigers have accumulated through the trades at the deadline last year. The one that has really stood out is right-handed pitcher Franklin Perez.
Perez came over in the deal that sent longtime Tigers ace and fan-favorite Justin Verlander over to the Houston Astros on July 31st. Perez was the number four prospect in the Astros farm system and now finds himself as the top prospect for the Tigers. At 20 years of age, Perez features a mid 90’s fastball that tops out at 96. He also has a change-up and slider that scouts call “above average” pitches. He is also working on a slider and a sinker.
Perez will almost certainly start out in Double-A Erie when the Tigers break camp in the spring. However, according to Perez, he does not mind working his way to the show.
“Since I’ve been in the minor leagues I’ve been progressing really well,” he said. “I feel like if I continue to work hard and do what I’ve been doing, I will continue to get better and learn – especially with these coaches – and I will get to the big leagues. Obviously, that’s the ultimate goal.”
It is also worth noting that according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, the Tigers put Perez on a weightlifting program in Tiger Town this offseason instead of sending him to play winter ball. Only time will tell if that was the right decision. Perez did not pitch for the Tigers farm system last year due to a blister on his middle finger.
Before coming to the Tigers, he pitched 86 1/3 innings for the Astros farm system, piling up a 3.02 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP. He also struck out 78 batters and walked 27 in those outings. A pitcher that can put up numbers like that with a potential five-pitch arsenal is destined to make his big league debut sooner rather than later.