What are some names from the farm that could make an immediate impact on the Tigers in the 2022 season?
Areas of Need
Although many are projecting the 2022 Detroit Tigers to be the best team the organization has put on the field in years, there are still plenty of opportunities for younger players to make a splash at their position. While many of the Tigers’ young studs have already been called up and played most of at least one season, the Tigers’ farm system is still full of quality young players.
While Detroit will probably be looking to established veteran free agents to fill some of their bigger holes on the roster, there are still spots where the hope is that a younger player can develop into a long-term piece. So, while I don’t expect the Tigers to give the reigns to any of these players, they can still be players that have a really nice impact on the 2022 season. A prime example would be Derek Hill, who played very nicely at centerfield for the Tigers last season, especially defensively.
Of course, the guys like Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene will be up in 2022 and playing quite often, but I’m choosing to look at some smaller names that Tiger fans should become familiar with. So, without further ado, here are some young names to watch out for on the 2022 Detroit Tigers.
RHP Reese Olson
Acquired in the mid-season trade that sent Daniel Norris to the Brewers, Reese Olson came to Detroit and performed really well in the second half. So well, in fact, that the Tigers promoted him to Double-A after just two starts in West Michigan.
He was dominant in those starts, posting a .154 BAA and 0.73 WHIP. Across five starts in AA, the numbers don’t look quite as pretty, but the 4.74 ERA is largely inflated given that Olson was still posting a .202 BAA and 1.30 WHIP, the best of his minor-league career aside from his two starts in West Michigan.
The stuff is there with Olson, as he has a mid-90’s fastball, a changeup with a nice break, and a tight slider. I see him continuing his rapid improvement since becoming a Tiger, which could land him a spot in the bullpen at some point in 2022, and potentially the rotation if the injury bug bites the Tigers again.
2B/OF Kody Clemens
This was a name that many fans thought deserved an opportunity in 2021 given Willi Castro‘s struggles and injuries to some of the Tigers outfielders, but his name was never called. The clamoring for Clemens to get the call largely revolved around his power surge in Toledo during the 2021 season, where he hit 18 homers with a .778 OPS.
Depending on the Tigers’ moves in the offseason and how they plan to utilize Miguel Cabrera, Clemens could carve out a role in 2022. If Cabrera is used strictly as a DH, moving Jonathan Schoop to first, there is an avenue for Clemens to earn time at 2B. Obviously, he’ll have to earn a spot on the roster at Spring Training, but I could see Clemens being one of the Tigers utility guys who play fairly often at 2B.
If he can translate the power we saw in AAA to the MLB, he should displace guys like Willi Castro and Harold Castro on the depth chart.
LHP Joey Wentz
Joey Wentz has drawn the short stick when it comes to injuries, already having one tommy john surgery this early in his career. 2021 was the first time that Wentz had thrown since the 2019 season, and he performed probably better than expected given the missed time and severity of his injury.
He struggled in his first few starts in high-A ball, but the Tigers promoted him to AA, and Wentz got back on his feet quickly. In his 13 starts in AA, he posted an ERA of 3.71 with a .209 BAA and 1.39 WHIP. The thing that Wentz has going for him is that he does not rely on a blow away fastball or sheer stuff. He mixes pitches really well and has a really solid changeup that can be devastating to hitters when Wentz is on.
These traits should make his TJ recovery smoother than a guy with a power-arm, which is why I could see Wentz getting an opportunity at some point with the 2022 club. He likely doesn’t have the stuff to be a true bullpen guy, but could work in a long-relief role if the Tigers want to get a look at him at the major-league level. The potential with
Wentz is too high to count him out. He is the traits to be a major league starter, the question becomes when will the time be right.
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