The Detroit Tigers are entering a new era for their franchise. President of Baseball Operations Scott Harris has completed his first offseason at the helm after taking over for the fired Al Avila last summer.
The offseason saw very little movement from the Tigers and no real big splashes. The biggest moves Detroit made involved trading established players off their roster. Relievers Gregory Soto (Phillies) and Joe Jimenez (Braves) left the team as Detroit attempted to retool.
The Tigers can still go bargain shopping on the free agent market. However, with MLB Spring Training on the horizon, Detroit looks poised to give their younger players a chance to shine.
With that in mind, let’s look at three Detroit Tigers prospects you must watch this year during MLB Spring Training.
3. Catcher Dillion Dingler
The Tigers are due to get catcher Jake Rogers back from injury in 2023. And the team did acquire catcher Donny Sands in the Soto trade. However, the backup job behind Eric Haase is not a settled issue.
Dingler is Detroit’s 11th-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. The Ohio State product impressed in 2021, quickly rising through the minor league ranks and making it to AA Erie.
However, he soon cooled off, and an injury forced him to miss time. Since coming back in September 2021, he hasn’t looked the same as he did when he shot up Detroit’s minor league system.
There are questions surrounding Dingler’s bat. However, he is one of the better athletes in the Tigers farm system, as he played center field with the Buckeyes in college.
Dingler enters Spring Training with a chance to prove he has a future at the Major League level. And if others around him falter, he could sneak into the conversation as a backup option in Detroit come Opening Day.
2. Infielder Colt Keith
Keith is another fast riser through Detroit’s system, earning a promotion to single-A West Michigan shortly after his 20th birthday. Admittedly, his chances of making the team are slim, but he is an interesting prospect nonetheless.
Keith turned down a commitment to Arizona State after the 2020 MLB Draft, signing with the Tigers. Detroit currently does not have a penciled-in third baseman, leaving the door open for the 21-year-old to make the team.
Detroit has depth at the third base position in its minor league system, however. Despite that, Keith is very athletic for his size, and shows a lot of promise as a hitter.
He hasn’t flashed the type of power one would expect from a player of his size. Keith makes up for that with his advanced plate discipline and quick bat speed that allow him to hit for average.
The Tigers have no shortage of candidates to play third base this season. However, Keith is a name Tigers fans should keep in mind. Even if he is one to watch for the future and not the present.
1. Infielder/outfielder Justyn-Henry Malloy
Malloy enters Spring Training with a decent chance of making the Tigers roster. Detroit acquired him from the Braves at the Winter Meetings in exchange for Jimenez.
Malloy, 22, played collegiately at Vanderbilt and was on their College World Series winning team in 2019. In 2022, Malloy played three levels of minor league baseball, eventually reaching Triple-A.
The Tigers prospect also put in a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League last year. The 22-year-old flashes excellent bat speed at the plate and is a strong hitter. He isn’t the best fielder, which is a drawback to having him play the hot corner.
However, Malloy has the potential to be a very good hitter at the major league level. With a strong Spring Training performance, that major league future could begin at Comerica Park in April 2023.