DETROIT – Detroit Tigers fans are buzzing about the impending debuts of Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal -- and for good reason. But don’t forget about infield prospect Isaac Paredes, who also joined the MLB roster.
Paredes is among the most important prospects in the Tigers’ organization because he’s one of the few who can hit for power and get on base at a high rate.
Last season, Paredes flew under the radar because he hit just 13 home runs and 23 doubles in 127 games at Double-A Erie. But fans should be excited about his advanced plate discipline -- 57 walks compared to 61 strikeouts as a 20-year-old.
The Tigers’ offense is desperately in need of a player who can draw walks and hit for extra-base power. Throughout his minor-league career, Paredes has proven to excel in both categories.
In 424 games in the Tigers’ system, Paredes has hit 93 doubles, six triples and 40 home runs while posting a .355 on-base percentage.
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During an era in which strikeouts are the new normal, Paredes is known for making consistent contact -- another rare skill for such a young player.
MLB Pipeline doesn’t rank him inside its top 100 prospects, but Paredes is No. 6 in the Tigers’ organization. Excluding pitchers, only Spencer Torkelson (No. 1) and Riley Greene (No. 3) rank higher than Paredes on that list.
Unlike Skubal and Mize, who were announced as the starters on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, Paredes’ immediate role for the Tigers is unclear.
It seems unlikely the team would call him up and start his service clock just to stick him on the bench, but at the same time, even a partial role at the MLB level would be better for Paredes than wasting a year at the alternate training site.
Starting shortstop Niko Goodrum was removed from Sunday’s game with some back tightness, so it’s possible he could miss time. If so, Paredes would likely start at third base, with Willi Castro sliding over to shortstop.
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Goodrum could also conceivably move to a corner outfield spot, since Christin Stewart, Victor Reyes and Cameron Maybin haven’t exactly run away with the jobs. The Tigers seem to like Goodrum’s defense at shortstop, though, so that’s more of an out-of-the-box proposal.
No matter his role, it will be important for Paredes to maintain his strong plate discipline against MLB pitchers, because that’s his best attribute. Jeimer Candelario is an example of a player who had great contact and on-base numbers through the minors but has struggled to maintain them at the MLB level.
Paredes is still trying to grow into his power, but he needs to focus on simply having good at-bats through the end of 2020.
He’s one of the top offensive prospects in the organization and a critical part of the team’s future. It would be a welcome sight for Paredes to make a smooth transition to the big leagues.