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The Tigers Slugger They Never Saw Coming

(AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

I began writing about the Detroit Tigers rebuilding process since the fire-sale started in 2017.  I had only been living in Central Florida for a little over a year and was having withdrawals from not being able to attend games at Comerica Park.  Living 45 miles from Lakeland certainly helped and coincidentally, it was a good time to zone in on the farm system.

In 2017, the Tigers would send Justin Verlander to the Astros, JD Martinez to the D-Backs, Justin Upton and then Ian Kinsler to the Angels.  At that point, the Tigers officially entered rebuild mode.  Throughout Spring Training 2018, I released a number of lists of Tigers top prospects heading into the season.  Among the pitchers were the likes of Franklin Perez, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows.  The Tigers would continue to draft pitchers in the likes of Casey Mize and Jackson Jobe.

While Matt Manning and Alex Faedo are on the Tigers staff today, the promise of a pitchers led rebuild hasn’t really come to pass.  Instead, it’s beginning to look like a renaissance of hitters in Detroit.  Spencer Torkelson, the first overall pick of the 2020 Draft, has 23 HR and 68 RBI this season.  Riley Greene (2019 #5 Overall Pick) has only played 95 games this season, but has 11 HR / 34 RBI / .289 BA.  But, perhaps the most impressive of the bunch is the 19th Round pick of the 2019 Draft, Kerry Carpenter.

Central Florida’s 19th Rounder

In just 88 games, Carpenter has produced 20 HR / 54 RBI / .290 BA / .892 OPS.  In the month of August, he’s been among the most productive hitters in baseball.  So much so that MLB Network spent their afternoon on August 29th breaking down his swing.

Like Riley Greene, Carpenter is a product of the greater Orlando area.  A standout at Eustis High School (Lake County) and went on to play at Virginia Tech.  He would also play with the Scorpions of the Florida Collegiate Summer League.  He went under the radar in the 2019 Draft, going 562nd overall.

Carpenter made an immediate impact in the Tigers system follow the draft.  He earned the Florida Complex League MVP in 2019.  In 2021, he put up 15 HR / 74 RBI / .262 BA / .752 OPS with the Erie Sea Wolves (Double A).  And he absolutely exploded with both Erie  and Toledo (Triple A) in 2022, putting up a combined 30 HR / 75 RBI / .313 BA / 1.025 OPS prior to being called up by Detroit on August 10th.

Hitting into the Future

Is Kerry Carpenter that big bat in the middle of the Tigers lineup that they’ve desperately needed?  He appears to be so.  Carpenter, along with Greene and Torkelson have the potential to make for a dangerous Tigers lineup heading into next season.  For a more in-depth look of Carpenter’s statistics, check out this analysis at Bless You Boys.  Meanwhile, let’s hope Tigers fans will be able to enjoy this swing for years to come.

Brian is the Managing Editor at Legends on Deck and Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. He's been writing about baseball at LOD since 2017. He grew up in the Detroit area and is a lifelong Tigers fan. However, he shares some affinity for his son George's favorite team, the Atlanta Braves. Brian also has a particular interest in the amateur side of the game, including high school, college and collegiate summer league baseball. Brian and George also love collecting and selling baseball cards. You can find them selling on eBay (@Kossball) or posting on George's Instagram (@Kossball). Brian lives in Horizon West (Winter Garden), Florida with his wife (Grace), three daughters and George the Card Kid. You can also reach him at brianmkoss@gmail.com

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