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Legends On Deck

The Tigers MiLB Manager Reboot

While the Detroit Tigers signed veteran Manager Ron Gardenhire back in October, quietly their Minor League system also underwent a major managerial shakeup. These moves can be seen as an attempt to reboot a farm system that have been considered among MLB’s worst in recent years.  With the influx of prospects from some of the major moves at the trade deadline, the impact these Managers can have may prove critical in the years to come.  

Here’s who’s leading the Tigers MiLB affiliates in the 2018 season:

Toledo Mud Hens  (Triple A, International League)

New Manager:  Doug Mientkiewicz

What you need to know:  Mientkiewicz comes to Toledo from the Twins organization, where he managed the Fort Myers Miracle (Advanced A) in 2017 to the second best record in the Florida State League.  He also managed the Chattanooga Lookouts (Double A) to a 2015 Southern League Championship.  The 43 year-old former Florida State Seminoles star and MLB First Baseman, spent 12 years on multiple MLB teams, including the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox.  Not to mention, he’s a Toledo native.   

Mud Hens 2017 Record:  70-71

Erie Seawolves (Double A, Eastern League)

New Manager:  Andrew Graham

What you need to know:  Graham is a product of the Tigers system, from his playing days, to serving as Manager for Lakeland (2017), West Michigan (2014-2016) and Connecticut (2011-2013).  Graham enjoyed three winning seasons with the White Caps, including a 2015 Midwest League Championship.  His continued elevation through the ranks and familiarity with the prospects at the lower levels of the Tigers system makes him a natural fit for the Seawolves skipper. 

Seawolves 2017 Record:  65-75

Lakeland Tigers (Class A Advanced, Florida State League)

New Manager:   Mike Rabelo

What you need to know:  Like Graham, Rabelo is also a product of the Tigers system.  He served as Manager for the Whitecaps in 2017, leading the club to 91 wins, after spending five seasons in Connecticut (Manager 2014-2016).  Drafted by the Tigers as a player, he spent ten years in MiLB with the Tigers and Marlins.  Lakeland should begin the 2018 season with many of the same prospects Rabelo was coaching in West Michigan, which should make the Flying Tigers an early force in the Florida State League.  

Flying Tigers 2017 Record:  62-66

West Michigan Whitecaps (Class A, Midwest League)

New Manager:  Lance Parrish

What you need to know:  Yes, this is the same Lance Parrish —  8 time All-Star, 3 time Gold Glove, 6 time Silver Slugger Catcher who was a prominent member of the Tigers 1984 Championship team.  He’s been managing Erie for the past four season and has been coaching in MiLB since his playing career ended in the mid-90s.  Parrish was reportedly a bit surprised about his reassignment, expecting perhaps an opportunity to manage in Toledo.  His veteran presence, however, can be a real asset to the White Caps, as many of the Tigers top prospects are likely to start the 2018 season in West Michigan.  

Whitecaps 2017 record:  91-45

Connecticut Tigers (Short Season Class A / Rookie, New York-Penn League)

New Manager:  Gerald Laird

What you need to know:  Laird is the only Manager in the Tiger’s system returning from the 2017 season.  The 37 year-old former MLB Catcher, finished his first season coaching with a winning record.  Laird played three seasons in Detroit, including the 2012 AL Pennant winning season.  He also won a World Series with the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.  

Tigers 2017 record:  37-35

Stay tuned throughout the winter for a closer look at the Tigers farm system, prospects and outlook for the 2018 season.

Brian Koss

Brian Koss

Brian grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, MI where he spent his childhood playing organized baseball, pick-up games, collecting baseball cards, listening to his grandfather's stories about the 1930s Pittsburgh Pirates, drafting fantasy baseball teams and attending Tigers games. His dad, who coached his teams, weaved family trips around ballpark visits. A diehard Detroit Tigers (and Lions) fan, Brian and his wife (a Real Estate team) are raising their two children near Orlando. Brian helps coach his daughter's tee-ball team, working to pass along his love of the game.
Brian Koss

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