These past few years have certainly been dark times for the Detroit Tigers. The team has been mired in a complete rebuild since mid-2017, and they suffered one of the worst seasons in franchise history by losing 114 of 161 games in 2019. The Tigers did try to improve a little this past offseason by investing some money acquiring the likes of C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Austin Romine and Cameron Maybin via free agency. These additions were clearly not enough, however as the team very recently suffered a 9 game losing streak that saw the team fall from first to worst in the AL central and saw their playoff odds at Fangraphs fall 33% in the span of just 10 days. These facts have had many Tigers fans clamoring for a change, and that’s exactly what they got this past week when it was announced the team was calling up a trio of their top prospects in Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Isaac Paredes.
Coming up through the Cubs and Tigers farm systems, Paredes was most known for his offensive abilities due to the fact he has shown strong bat-to-ball skills with a good approach at the plate and the bat speed/strength that should allow him to develop more in-game power over time as he matures. It didn’t take long for Paredes to show off some of these offensive skills at the Major League level. In his Major League debut on Monday, August 17th, Paredes would ground out softly with runners on the corners and 2 outs in his first at bat before coming up in a bases loaded situation with 2 outs in the the 4th inning. In this at bat, Paredes was able to work a full count against White Sox starter Gio Gonzalez and showed off his advanced approach at the plate by laying off some close pitches with 2 strikes to work the count full.
Considering this was his first career game in a bases loaded situation, the maturity displayed in this at bat was very impressive. After working the count full, Gonzalez missed his spot with a fastball and Paredes was able to take advantage, singling to left for his first career hit and RBI’s.
Paredes next came up in the top of the 6th inning. White Sox reliever Codi Heuer threw Paredes a high 97 MPH fastball, and Paredes just missed hitting a home run to left.
This at-bat would end in another soft ground out for Paredes on an ugly looking swing, but he did take a couple more close pitches and made Heuer work to get him out. The final at-bat of Paredes Major League debut came in the 9th inning against Jose Ruiz. In this at-bat, Parades was once again able to lay off some very close pitches and foul a couple off to work a full count. After a 7 pitch battle, Parades would fly out to centerfield. Despite only getting 1 hit in his debut, there were a lot of encouraging signs from him in this game and the approach and bat to ball skills he showed at the plate was a particularly welcoming sign to Tigers fans as the team was historically bad at chasing pitches out of the strike zone in 2019.
In his second Major League game, Paredes would face off against starter Dylan Cease for the White Sox. His first at-bat came with no one out and a runner on 2nd in the third inning. Parades would get a first pitch 99 MPH fastball from Cease and drive it deep to right for a fly out. Early on in his Major League Career, Paredes showed that he wasn’t going to be over matched by premium velocity. Opponents would also realize this early, and they would quickly adjust by going throwing more breaking balls away from him. In his second at bat of this game, Paredes was able to work another full count before hitting a weak infield pop out. Against left-handed reliever Jace Fry in the 9th, Paredes was again work a full count before ultimately striking out and a low fastball. Despite the 0-3 game, he was still able to show off the advanced approach features at the plate.
Paredes would face off against fellow rookie, Dane Dunning, in his 3rd Major League game. During this game, opponents started attacking Paredes with more breaking stuff away, and that’s exactly how Dunning was able to strike him out in his first at bat of this game. In his second at bat, Paredes was able to draw a four pitch walk before coming up for the final time this game during the 7th against side-arm reliever Steve Cishek. Paredes narrowly missed hitting another home run in this at bat before ultimately flying out to right.
Paredes most exciting big league moment by far to this point came in game number 4 for him on Friday, August 21st. After striking out looking in his first at bat of the game on a couple questionable strike calls by home plate umpire Chris Conroy, Paredes would come up with the bases loaded with 1 out in the top of the 4th inning. In this at bat, Paredes was able to launch his first career home run out to left, giving the Tigers a 7-5 lead and sending the Tigers on their way to ending their 20 game losing streak vs. the team from Cleveland.
Paredes would strikeout in his next two at bats against relievers Dominic Leone and Cam Hill. Leone and Hill were both able to strikeout Paredes working with breaking pitches outside. Paredes showed in this game why I think he could realistically be a guy who hits for 15 type home run power at the Major League level.
On Saturday, August 22nd, Paredes would face off against another impressive rookie starter in Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie. Like many of the Tigers hitters, Paredes looked completely over matched by McKenzie and struck out quickly in both of his at bats against him. Paredes got another chance against in the 9th, this time against reliever Adam Cimber. In a 1-1 count, Paredes would ground out softly to 3rd, ending his night with a no hit performance.
On Sunday, August 23rd, Paredes would face off against Carlos Carrasco. In the first battle in the 2nd inning, Paredes was able to single sharply to left for his 3rd career hit.
Paredes was not finished for the day as he would come up again in the 4th with the bases empty and no one out. He would quickly fall behind 0-2 in this at bat, and after fouling a couple pitches off and taking a couple breaking pitches, he was able to rip another single to left field, knocking Carrasco out of the game. After striking out against Logan Allen in the 6th on a low breaking ball, Paredes came up the final time this game in the 8th. After getting ahead 3-0, Paredes would hit another single to left field for his 3rd hit of the game. Paredes once again showed off excellent bat to ball skills in this game, and also why I think he has the potential to be a .260-.270ish hitter at the Major League level.
While Paredes’ overall numbers might not immediately jump off the page from his first week of Major League action, he did show off his advanced approach and good bat to ball skills. He also showed some of his power potential on the grand slam and the numerous close fouls. He will need to find a way to lay off of the breaking balls off the plate, which he will definitely start seeing more of as the league starts adjusting to him.
Many of the question marks in Paredes profile have come on the defensive side of things. After being signed and working primarily as a short stop early in his professional career, Paredes has and will work primarily at third base at the Major League level due to his limited range due to lack of speed and athleticism.
Paredes has generally looked serviceable defensively at third during his brief time in the Majors so far. He hasn’t really made any plays that particularly stand out, but he hasn’t made many mistakes either. He made a throwing error in his first game due to laziness, but has generally displayed a good enough arm that should allow him to stick at third base long term. He also allowed a very hard hit ball to go off his glove for a single in the game on Sunday, but the ball was hit with an exit velocity of 106, so I will give him a pass.
Paredes has me very excited after his first week in the Majors. He hit .250/.318/.450 over his first week of action which might not jump out at first, but he not only showed great maturity at the plate for someone so young. He also showed great plate discipline and the ability to hit for power.
In my recent Tigers Top 20 Prospect Rankings, I gave Paredes a 55 future hit and 45 future power grade. I don’t think I’ve seen enough to change my stance on those much, and think those are generally fair future projections for his offensive ability. There are certainly question marks about his defense and rightfully so, but Tigers fans should be very excited for Paredes.
Featured Image: Paul Beaty – AP