Tigers Buy In On Sandy Baez

DETROIT—Righthander Sandy Baez went 7-9, 3.81 in 2016 during his first season at the low Class A level. But the Tigers liked what they saw enough to add him to their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

“Sandy had a good year,” Tigers farm director Dave Owen said. “He had a very good development year. He showed really good signs. He made some good strides as far as more consistent delivery and better secondary stuff.”

Baez struck out 88 and walked 28 in 113.1 innings spanning 21 starts in 2016 for low Class A West Michigan. That inning total represented a major increase in workload for the 23-year-old, who pitched 61.1 innings in 2013, 62.2 in 2014 and 65.1 in 2015.

The Tigers are convinced Baez—who is listed at 6-feet-2 and 180 pounds—can handle the added work.

“No. 1, he’s just a big, strong young man,” Owen said. “He’s a very physical pitcher. He’s got strength, he’s got durability. He looks like a guy that can handle the workload.”

Owen said Baez has a really good feel for his changeup and is getting better shape on his slider. But his fastball is his best pitch.

“He’s got a plus fastball, at times up to 99,” Owen said. “He’ll settle in at the 94, 95 range. His control is better. The shape quality of his pitches is getting better. He’s maturing. He’s developing as you hope those guys do.

“Also, he’s one of the hardest-working guys we’ve got. He’s very diligent in the weight room and doing his program, strengthening and conditioning. He’s a quality young man and it’s good to see things start to build in the right direction for him.”

Pitchers who haven’t yet reached high Class A can be difficult for teams to stash on their big league rosters for an entire season. But the Tigers weren’t willing to risk losing Baez in the Rule 5 draft. He’ll head to spring training as a member of the 40-man roster, though still likely to begin the 2017 season at high Class A Lakeland.


Outfielder JaCoby Jones hit .329/.391/.427 in 82 at-bats during Arizona Fall League play and was named to the AFL’s top prospects team.

Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer is a lock for the Tigers rotation in 2017, but lefthanders Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd will have to compete for rotation spots.

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