Roundtable: Next Prospect to Get Called Up?

Faulk isn't mentioned much, but could he be next?

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: Who will be the next Tigers prospect to make their big league debut?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor

In looking through the options for a pitcher to make their big league debut, most of the "next up" options have already had a big league appearance or two, and given the options to start or relieve, I would be somewhat surprised if we see a new pitcher again this season. For that reason, I'm focusing on the big league bench, which at some point, is likely going to need a jolt. It probably won't come from the middle infield, where Danny Worth is sure to get the next shot (and Hernan Perez after him has already made a cameo), and Ramon Cabrera is unlikely to jump Bryan Holaday given their defensive skill-sets. Therefore, it's time to look to the outfield, and the logical conclusion there is Nick Castellanos. I won't rule out the promotion of someone like Jose Alvarez for a left-handed relief role, I just don't think it happens over guys like Bruce Rondon or Luke Putkonen, and at some point this year, the Tigers are going to look to give Castellanos a shot. So, next up will be the mcuh ballyhooed and talked about third baseman turned left fielder.

Mark Anderson, Managing Editor

When we originally constructed this Roundtable earlier in the week I completed a thorough evaluation of the Tigers 40-man roster to determine that Evan Reed would be the next prospect to make his Major League debut. No, really, I did. Ask Paul! (Ed. note: Mark did choose Evan Reed, prior to him being called up earlier this week. Mark is still desperate for prognostication redemption after his disastrous Andrew Kown prediction of 2004, so I am letting him have his moment) With Reed already in the big leagues, that leaves Ramon Cabrera, Dixon Machado and Melvin Mercedes as newbies on the 40-man roster. Cabrera sits behind Bryan Holaday on the depth chart, so he is not a reasonable guess. Dixon Machado is coming back from a hamstring injury and is only slated to debut with High-A this week. Melvin Mercedes is poised to take off but even if he makes a meteoric rise akin to Bruce Rondon in 2012, he is only likely to tip out in Triple-A this year. That all means the Tigers are likely to look toward a minor league veteran for their next first time big leaguer. Left-handers Jose Alvarez and Kenny Faulk are both pitching well in Toledo and the Tigers have watched Phil Coke struggle in the late innings at times this year, while also spending time on the disabled list. Given the uncertainty surrounding Coke and Drew Smyly's role as more of a multi-inning arm, the Tigers could look for a one- to two-out lefty at some point this summer. If I had to bet, the next Tiger to arrive in the Majors for the first time will be Kenny Faulk.

Matt Buck, Staff Writer

Since there are no prospects who are necessarily destined for a call-up in the near future, the next Tigers prospect to make their big league debut will probably be with the club because of an injury. While Bruce Rondon is the clear choice to be called up in the event that a reliever goes down, Jose Alvarez should be next on that list and will be the next prospect to make his debut. Alvarez has had solid numbers as a starter in Toledo this season and has some of the best numbers in the International League. He has the chance to be a solid lefty option out of the bullpen which is how the Tigers could use him if an injury occurs.

James Chipman, Lakeland Correspondent

Barring another unfortunate injury, I don't foresee any movement on the Tigers roster in the immediate future. At the dish, the Tigers have been hands down the most productive team in the majors; receiving regular contributions from both starters and role players. Even with Porcello's horrendous month of April, the Tigers' rotation still boasts an AL best 3.22 ERA. Although suspect on occasion, the Tigers' bullpen has also been serviceable more times than not this season. The bullpen being the weakest of the three components, it only makes sense for the Tigers to eventually add a new arm to the equation in an attempt to iron things out. Going out on a limb, I'm willing to bet that the next Tigers' debut will be an unexpected move from a player that is not currently on the 40-man roster. Although I'm probably in the minority, I see a legitimate dark horse candidate in southpaw reliever Kenny Faulk, should the ‘pen need a boost from the left side. Aside from the five hit, four-run stinker earlier this week, Faulk has been absolutely lights out this season. Armed with arguably the best change-up in the system, Faulk has recorded 26 strikeouts over 17 1/3 innings in Triple-A Toledo this season. Faulk is notoriously tough on lefties and he has a strong track record for missing bats (career 11.1 K/9). Although it's a long shot, notably because he's left-handed, I'd love to see Faulk in a Tigers' uniform sometime this season.

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