Mike Gerber makes his MLB Debut in Detroit
In the first major roster move of the season, the Tigers sent OF Mikie Mahtook, who struggled at the plate both in Spring Training and first week of the season, down to Triple A Toledo. Mahtook continues to work on getting his swing back (which worked pretty well last season) and has found himself frustrated with his early season slump. Fans hope to get 2017 Mikie Mahtook back soon. The club simultaneously called up Chad Bell to replace Mahtook on their 25 man roster.
In the meantime, the Tigers found themselves making another roster move for their Friday doubleheader against Kansas City. The league allows a 26th man on the roster for the second game of a doubleheader and the Mud Hens OF Mike Gerber got the call. Gerber has ranked somewhere between the #10-12 prospect in the Tigers system in the last couple seasons. The 15th Round Draft Pick (2014) out of Creighton University (Omaha) hit .301 BA, .869 OPS, 14 HRs, 50 RBIs for Erie in 2017. He helped lead the 2015 West Michigan Whitecaps to a Midwest League Championship, with a .292 BA, .822 OPS, 13 HRs and 76 RBIs. Yet, Gerber is not particularly known for his bat, but for his glove and reliability in the outfield; he can play all three positions. Gerber’s personal journey is also compelling, his younger brother David Gerber is a pitcher for the Clinton Lumberjacks (Seattle – Full Season A). Mike and David played a season together at Creighton and have been particularly close since they lost their father to kidney cancer when they were in High School.
RHP Warwick Suphold came to the Tigers by way of the Australian Baseball League. He signed an minor league deal with the Tigers in 2012, spent time in West Michigan, Lakeland, Erie and Toledo. He made his MLB debut in 2016 and pitched 62.2 innings with the Tigers last season, going 3-2 with a 4.88 ERA, 1.52 WHIP and 44 strikeouts. Warwick will be swapping roster spots with Chad Bell, who was optioned back to Toledo.
Gerber did not have an at-bat in his MLB debut, but he did enter the game as a pinch runner for Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the 9th; the Tigers lost to Kansas City 3-2. Gerber may not have gotten his Moonlight Graham moment, but there will likely be more opportunities for MLB play in his not so distant future.
One of the best things about the 2018 Tigers season is the early willingness to make roster moves. If the trend continues, we could see a few more top prospects making their MLB debut this season.