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Detroit Tigers eyeing up their future

By NOAH TRISTER

AP Baseball Writer

DETROIT — It’s easy to look a few years ahead and imagine Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning on the mound for the Detroit Tigers, with Spencer Torkelson at one of the corner infield spots and Riley Greene in the outfield.

That’s the blueprint for this franchise’s return to prominence. Getting from here to there is the challenge.

The Tigers have been one of baseball’s worst teams for the past four seasons, but now they’ve finally reached the point where they can boast a few highly ranked prospects. Not all of them have reached the major leagues yet, but this 2021 campaign could be significant in their development.

Detroit has been cautious over the past few offseasons, avoiding major long-term deals. The Tigers did bring in some veterans for this year like Robbie Grossman and Wilson Ramos, and general manager Al Avila said he wants his young players to have to earn their opportunities in the big leagues.

“Our goal is to get more young players established at the major league level and surround them with guys that we feel will take us over the top and help us win more games,” Avila said. “Next year, you’re talking about the offseason, the winter of ’21, going into ’22, yeah, I think at that point, we can add more to the organization.”

By the end of this season, the Tigers could have a much better sense of their timeline for returning to contention. Detroit has five of the game’s top 25 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. That includes Mize and Skubal, who both pitched in the majors last year with mixed results.

Torkelson was the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, and Greene and Manning were first-round selections in 2016 and 2019.

This next stage of Detroit’s rebuild begins with AJ Hinch managing after Ron Gardenhire retired late last season. Hinch took over after losing his job as Houston’s manager and being suspended last season in the aftermath of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.

NEW LOOK

The Tigers added Ramos to help shore up their catching situation, and the switch-hitting Grossman could help the outfield. Detroit also acquired outfielder Nomar Mazara and infielder Renato Nunez. plus pitchers Jose Urena, Julio Teheran, Derek Holland and Wily Peralta.

ROOKIES TO WATCH

Aside from those five top-25 prospects, Detroit has some other young players with a lot to prove this year. Outfielder Daz Cameron is someone to keep an eye on. The Tigers acquired him in the 2017 trade that sent Justin Verlander to Houston.

MILESTONES

Miguel Cabrera turns 38 in April, and his production has fallen off in recent years, but he does have a chance to reach a couple major milestones this season. Cabrera needs 13 home runs to reach 500 and 134 hits to reach 3,000.

ROTATION QUESTIONS

The Tigers may use a six-man rotation this year, and Hinch has plenty of potential starters to choose from. While the progress of Mize, Skubal and Manning will be a big story this season, 2021 is also important for left-hander Matthew Boyd. He was Detroit’s opening day starter last season, but he did not pitch like an ace, going 3-7 with a 6.71 ERA.


Detroit Tigers schedule

All times EDT

April 1 vs. Cleveland 1:10 p.m.

April 3 vs. Cleveland 1:10 p.m.

April 4 vs. Cleveland 1:10 p.m.

April 5 vs. Minnesota 1:10 p.m.

April 6 vs. Minnesota 1:10 p.m.

April 7 vs. Minnesota 1:10 p.m.

April 9 at Cleveland 7:10 p.m.

April 10 at Cleveland 6:10 p.m.

April 11 at Cleveland 1:10 p.m.

April 12 at Houston 8:10 p.m.

April 13 at Houston 8:10 p.m.

April 14 at Houston 7:10 p.m.

April 15 at Oakland 9:40 p.m.

April 16 at Oakland 9:40 p.m.

April 17 at Oakland 4:07 p.m.

April 18 at Oakland 4:07 p.m.

April 20 vs. Pittsburgh 6:40 p.m.

April 21 vs. Pittsburgh 6:40 p.m.

April 22 vs. Pittsburgh 1:10 p.m.

April 23 vs. Kansas City 7:10 p.m.

April 24 vs. Kansas City 1:10 p.m.

April 25 vs. Kansas City 1:10 p.m.

April 26 vs. Kansas City 1:10 p.m.

April 27 at Chicago White Sox 8:10 p.m.

April 28 at Chicago White Sox 8:10 p.m.

April 29 at Chicago White Sox 8:10 p.m.

April 30 at N.Y. Yankees 7:05 p.m.

May 1 at N.Y. Yankees 1 p.m.

May 2 at N.Y. Yankees 1 p.m.

May 4 at Boston 7:10 p.m.

May 5 at Boston 7:10 p.m.

May 6 at Boston 1:10 p.m.

May 7 vs. Minnesota 7:10 p.m.

May 8 vs. Minnesota 4:10 p.m.

May 9 vs. Minnesota 1:10 p.m.

May 11 vs. Kansas City 7:10 p.m.

May 12 vs. Kansas City 7:10 p.m.

May 13 vs. Kansas City 1:10 p.m.

May 14 vs. Chicago Cubs 7:10 p.m.

May 15 vs. Chicago Cubs 4:10 p.m.

May 16 vs. Chicago Cubs 1:10 p.m.

May 17 at Seattle 10:10 p.m.

May 18 at Seattle 10:10 p.m.

May 19 at Seattle 10:10 p.m.

May 21 at Kansas City 8:10 p.m.

May 22 at Kansas City 4:10 p.m.

May 23 at Kansas City 2:10 p.m.

May 24 vs. Cleveland 7:10 p.m.

May 25 vs. Cleveland 7:10 p.m.

May 26 vs. Cleveland 7:10 p.m.

May 27 vs. Cleveland 1:10 p.m.

May 28 vs. N.Y. Yankees 7:10 p.m.

May 29 vs. N.Y. Yankees 4:10 p.m.

May 30 vs. N.Y. Yankees 1:10 p.m.

May 31 at Milwaukee 2:10 p.m.

June 1 at Milwaukee 7:40 p.m.

June 3 at Chicago White Sox 8:10 p.m.

June 4 at Chicago White Sox 8:10 p.m.

June 5 at Chicago White Sox 8:10 p.m.

June 6 at Chicago White Sox 2:10 p.m.

June 8 vs. Seattle 7:10 p.m.

June 9 vs. Seattle 7:10 p.m.

June 10 vs. Seattle 1:10 p.m.

June 11 vs. Chicago White Sox 7:10 p.m.

June 12 vs. Chicago White Sox 4:10 p.m.

June 13 vs. Chicago White Sox 1:10 p.m.

June 14 at Kansas City 8:10 p.m.

June 15 at Kansas City 8:10 p.m.

June 16 at Kansas City 2:10 p.m.

June 17 at L.A. Angels 9:38 p.m.

June 18 at L.A. Angels 9:38 p.m.

June 19 at L.A. Angels 10:07 p.m.

June 20 at L.A. Angels 4:07 p.m.

June 22 vs. St. Louis 7:10 p.m.

June 23 vs. St. Louis 1:10 p.m.

June 24 vs. Houston 7:10 p.m.

June 25 vs. Houston 7:10 p.m.

June 26 vs. Houston 4:10 p.m.

June 27 vs. Houston 1:10 p.m.

June 28 at Cleveland 7:10 p.m.

June 29 at Cleveland 7:10 p.m.

June 30 at Cleveland 7:10 p.m.

July 2 vs. Chicago White Sox 7:10 p.m.

July 3 vs. Chicago White Sox 4:10 p.m.

July 4 vs. Chicago White Sox 1:10 p.m.

July 5 at Texas 8:05 p.m.

July 6 at Texas 8:05 p.m.

July 7 at Texas 2:05 p.m.

July 8 at Minnesota 8:10 p.m.

July 9 at Minnesota 8:10 p.m.

July 10 at Minnesota 2:10 p.m.

July 11 at Minnesota 2:10 p.m.

July 16 vs. Minnesota 7:10 p.m.

July 17 vs. Minnesota 6:10 p.m.

July 18 vs. Minnesota 1:10 p.m.

July 19 vs. Texas 7:10 p.m.

July 20 vs. Texas 7:10 p.m.

July 21 vs. Texas 7:10 p.m.

July 22 vs. Texas 1:10 p.m.

July 23 at Kansas City 8:10 p.m.

July 24 at Kansas City 7:10 p.m.

July 25 at Kansas City 2:10 p.m.

July 26 at Minnesota 8:10 p.m.

July 27 at Minnesota 8:10 p.m.

July 28 at Minnesota 1:10 p.m.

July 29 vs. Baltimore 7:10 p.m.

July 30 vs. Baltimore 7:10 p.m.

July 31 vs. Baltimore 6:10 p.m.

Aug. 1 vs. Baltimore 1:10 p.m.

Aug. 3 vs. Boston 7:10 p.m.

Aug. 4 vs. Boston 7:10 p.m.

Aug. 5 vs. Boston 1:10 p.m.

Aug. 6 at Cleveland 7:10 p.m.

Aug. 7 at Cleveland 7:10 p.m.

Aug. 8 at Cleveland 1:10 p.m.

Aug. 10 at Baltimore 7:05 p.m.

Aug. 11 at Baltimore 7:05 p.m.

Aug. 12 at Baltimore 4:05 p.m.

Aug. 13 vs. Cleveland 7:10 p.m.

Aug. 14 vs. Cleveland 6:10 p.m.

Aug. 15 vs. Cleveland 1:10 p.m.

Aug. 17 vs. L.A. Angels 7:10 p.m.

Aug. 18 vs. L.A. Angels 7:10 p.m.

Aug. 19 vs. L.A. Angels 1:10 p.m.

Aug. 20 at Toronto 7:07 p.m.

Aug. 21 at Toronto 3:07 p.m.

Aug. 22 at Toronto 1:07 p.m.

Aug. 24 at St. Louis 7:45 p.m.

Aug. 25 at St. Louis 1:15 p.m.

Aug. 27 vs. Toronto 7:10 p.m.

Aug. 28 vs. Toronto 6:10 p.m.

Aug. 29 vs. Toronto 1:10 p.m.

Aug. 31 vs. Oakland 7:10 p.m.

Sept. 1 vs. Oakland 7:10 p.m.

Sept. 2 vs. Oakland 1:10 p.m.

Sept. 3 at Cincinnati 7:10 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Cincinnati 7:10 p.m.

Sept. 5 at Cincinnati 1:10 p.m.

Sept. 6 at Pittsburgh 1:35 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Pittsburgh 6:35 p.m.

Sept. 8 at Pittsburgh 6:35 p.m.

Sept. 10 vs. Tampa Bay 7:10 p.m.

Sept. 11 vs. Tampa Bay 6:10 p.m.

Sept. 12 vs. Tampa Bay 1:10 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Milwaukee 6:40 p.m.

Sept. 15 vs. Milwaukee 1:10 p.m.

Sept. 16 at Tampa Bay 7:10 p.m.

Sept. 17 at Tampa Bay 7:10 p.m.

Sept. 18 at Tampa Bay 4:10 p.m.

Sept. 19 at Tampa Bay 1:10 p.m.

Sept. 20 vs. Chicago White Sox 6:40 p.m.

Sept. 21 vs. Chicago White Sox 6:40 p.m.

Sept. 22 vs. Chicago White Sox 1:10 p.m.

Sept. 24 vs. Kansas City 7:10 p.m.

Sept. 25 vs. Kansas City 6:10 p.m.

Sept. 26 vs. Kansas City 1:10 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Minnesota 7:40 p.m.

Sept. 29 at Minnesota 7:40 p.m.

Sept. 30 at Minnesota 7:40 p.m.

Oct. 1 at Chicago White Sox 8:10 p.m.

Oct. 2 at Chicago White Sox 7:10 p.m.

Oct. 3 at Chicago White Sox 3:10 p.m.