Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
It's tough to ever favor relief pitching over starting pitching, because the vast majority of pitchers will start out in the rotation, and if they fail there, then might be given a shot at relieving. However, the relief corp could have actually made an argument coming into the offseason, that is up until the Tigers shipped out Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett to the Yankees, who were the top two relief prospects in the organization. Now they're left with Eulogio de la Cruz and Brett Jensen, neither of whom are likely to unseat any of the top relievers.
And any knowledgable Tiger fan knows Andrew Miller, and has likely heard of guys like Jair Jurrjens, Dallas Trahern, and Virgil Vasquez. Jordan Tata is one pitcher that could shift to the other side and make his impact out of the 'pen, but until that happens, he has to be viewed as a starter. The call is easy now; starters win hands down.
Mark Anderson, Associate Editor, Minor Leagues
In what is likely to be a bit of a shocker, I think the Tigers actually have strength in their relief core than in the starting rotation. Aside from the big crew of Verlander, Bonderman, Robertson, Miller, and Jurrjens, there are a lot of back of the rotation types with limited upside. The Tigers have tons of pithing depth it he rotation, with quality guys like Jonah Nickerson, Dallas Trahern, Jordan Tata, and the like; but they lack raw, middle of the road prospects, with the potential to burst through to a higher ceiling. In the bullpen, the Tigers are loaded with arms that can throw pure fuel; guys that can absolutely bring it, which leads to some very high ceiling bullpen arms. From Zumaya and Rodney, right on down to guys like Frankie de la Cruz, Jose Fragoso, Ricky Steik, Casey Fien, and the list is endless. With all those big fastballs sitting in minor league bullpens, its hard to dispute the overall ceiling and depth of the organizational relief corps. Both starting pitching and relief pitching are well stocked within the organization, but I think you have to give the nod to the guys closing down games.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I think it's stronger with starting pitching. Andrew Miller should join the rotation in Detroit before too long, and Jair Jurrgens has emerged as a solid pitching prospect as well. If Kyle Sleeth can stay healthy, perhaps he can make a push. Dallas Trahern and Virgil Vasquez also fly under the radar as solid pitching prospects. With the success of these guys (sans Sleeth due to health), it gives Dave Dombrowski some nice depth should the need to part with prospects in a trade arise. Also, some of these guys could move to the bullpen after being starters while coming up through the system like Jordan Tata did initially when he broke camp with the Tigers, and Eulogio De La Cruz profiles in a similar manner. The Tigers also have guys like Luke French, Sendy Vasquez, and Eleazar Aponte who add even more depth in the low minors.
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