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Detrot Tigers Roundtable: First Top 50 Prospect to Debut

Who will be the first member of the TigsTown Top 50 to make his big league debut this year?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor

 

There are a handful of prospects that could be knocking on the big league door sooner rather than later. It's important to remember though that usually prospects only get onto the roster one of two ways; either they play so well that they force themselves onto the roster, or a need opens up, usually either due to injury or a player struggling. Michael Fulmer is probably the only prospect that would qualify as capable of forcing his way onto the roster via talent, but he hasn't had a dominating spring, and will likely have to jump over two or three other arms to get into the rotation, so it probably won't be him. That leaves either the bullpen or a position player. In the bullpen, Joe Jimenez and Montreal Robertson could definitely be options for middle relief roles at some point this summer, depending on how they look in Erie, and if a left-hander is needed, Kevin Ziomek could get consideration for a spot as well. Among the position players, many of the next man up roles are filled by players that have already made their debut, except for centerfield, where Wynton Bernard is probably the logical candidate if a need emerged in center. And coincidentally, Cameron Maybin is out with a fractured left wrist and according to manager Brad Ausmus, will likely start the season on the disabled list as the healing process hasn't been as quick as they were hoping. While the Tigers have Anthony Gose to take over every day duties in center, they need a reserve there as well. They could rely on Andrew Romine, or hope Tyler Collins can cover, but the logical move early on would be to keep Bernard up in Detroit to cover the few games, and ensure you have a natural centerfielder available in reserve. So given the need and the opportunity, here's betting that Bernard is the first member of the TigsTown Top 50 to make his debut this season.

 

Mark Anderson, Director of Scouting

 

The Tigers have several prospects that should arrive in the Big leagues this season, including outfielder Wynton Bernard and pitchers Montreal Robertson and Michael Fulmer. Bernard has a chance to debut early in the year thanks to Cameron Maybin's injury, but I have my eye on someone else to be the first from the TigsTown Top 50 to make their Major League debit in 2016. Despite our criticism of him over the last two years, left-hander Kevin Ziomek has big league qualities and as the Tigers continue to search for a bullpen full of quality and depth, he could be called upon as the second lefty in Detroit. Scouts I have spoken with this spring have been at least a little skeptical of incumbent Blaine Hardy. If Hardy falters or injury strikes elsewhere in the bullpen, Ziomek's four-pitch mix and strike throwing ability could send him off to Detroit.

 

 

Chris Brown, Staff Writer

 

To my eyes there are really only three members of the TigTown Top 50 who appear poised to make their MLB debuts this year: starter Michael Fulmer, reliever Joe Jimenez, and outfielder Wynton Bernard. Fulmer and Bernard are already on the 40-man roster, and both have an outside shot of making the team right out of spring training, but there are enough starters in front of Fulmer right now to let him get the 2-3 months of AAA seasoning he probably needs, and the Tigers appear to favor Tyler Collins' MLB experience over Bernard's right-handed bat.
That leaves us with the hard-throwing Jimenez, who was awfully impressive in his few spring training outings. He's likely ticketed for AA Erie, but I'm not convinced he isn't already one of the seven best bullpen arms in the entire organization. He still needs to refine his command a bit, but keeping him in the minors for too much longer just feels like a waste of the bullets in his powerful right arm. The Tigers will need to make a 40-man roster move to add Jimenez, but I fully expect to see him take the mound at Comerica Park by late May or early June.

 


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