Roundtable: Next Prospect Called Up

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: Who will be the next prospect that is promoted for their big league debut to Detroit?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor

The safe pick here is of course right-handed reliever Corey Knebel, who is making quick work of upper-level minor league competition and could fill a late inning role in Detroit sometime this season. But, with at least the back end of the bullpen settling itself, and Joel Hanrahan likely available to the Tigers within a month, there would appear to be less urgency to rush a reliever to Detroit who is still working through some things. On the other hand, the Tigers production (or lack thereof) from shortstop is becoming an increasing concern for many, and while the defense is good, the offense has been going from below average but adequate to putrid. The Tigers can accept below average offense, but they can't accept a black hole in the lineup. If it's becoming obvious that the Tigers need an upgrade, they'd be better off turning to Erie shortstop Eugenio Suarez first, to see what he can do. He's hitting .273 with a .493 slugging percentage for the SeaWolves. Questions remain about how he'll handle MLB-caliber pitching, but if the alternative is spending a large sum of money on free agent Stephen Drew, the Tigers would be well-advised to give Suarez a look first.

Mark Anderson, Director of Scouting

The easy answer here is Corey Knebel, particularly in light of his recent promotion to Triple-A Toledo. That said, I'm going to stay away from the easy answer and offer a contrary opinion. Fellow Toledo right-hander Melvin Mercedes is already on the 40-man roster and woudn't require any activity on an already full roster. After starting the season by allowing eight runs on 12 hits and two walks in 9 2/3 innings (eight games), Mercedes has settled in by allowing no runs on just three hits and one walk over his last seven innings (seven outings). The strikeout rate has been a little low for the liking of some, but he is inducing weak contact with his heavy fastball and quality slider, and the velocity has been present throughout the last seven appearances. With a place on the 40-man roster and such a simple move to bring him to Detroit, combined with a strong recent showing, I believe Mercedes will get the next call to help the Detroit bullpen.

James Chipman, Senior Lakeland Correspondent

Unless an injury occurs to one of the position players, (knocks on wood) I'd be willing to bet that the next prospect making their debut is a reliever, and that really narrows the field. While I suppose I could see Melvin Mercedes getting the call because he's actually already on Detroit's 40-man roster, I believe Corey Knebel is actually next in line. While I firmly believe that Knebel would greatly benefit from more seasoning in Toledo, he's undoubtedly better than some of the arms currently in Detroit's 'pen. Furthermore, a couple more late inning adventures like Sunday's, and I wouldn't be too surprised to see the Tigers give Knebel a test run.

Neil Weinberg, Senior Analyst

The safest answer is probably Corey Knebel because he's had such a great start to his professional career and has already earned one promotion this season at a position of weakness for the big league team, but I'm starting to think we might see Eugenio Suarez soon, maybe even this week. The Tigers have a very serious black hole at short right now and while they can probably win the division with a replacement level player there, they need more if they're going to realistically contend for a title. Shortstops tend to be light-hitting, but as of Monday morning, Tigers shortstops had hit .194/.255/.225, which is the worst in baseball. Iglesias wasn't going to light the world on fire, but he brought plus plus defense and livable offensive profile. With Stephen Drew's draft pick penalty melting away in three weeks and the rest of the trade market waking up shortly after, the Tigers need to know if they already have a competent MLB shortstop inside the organization. That's where Suarez comes in. Romine is a good defender at short, but he's not good enough to make up for his very poor bat and the Tigers seem uninterested in giving Worth a real chance to play uninterrupted. Before the Tigers sign Drew, trade for Rollins, or do something else more creative, they are should see if Suarez is ready. His glove probably is and he certainly can't be worse than Romine at the plate right now. Giving him a tryout makes sense and now seems like the idea time to do it.

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