Category Archives: Tigers Prospects

Scott Aldred

1991 Upper Deck

1991 Upper Deck

I remember Scott being another one of those endless supply of rookie pitchers the Tigers seemed to be able to produce in the early 90s (see Kevin Ritz, Paul Gibson, Steve Wapnick, Greg Gohr, and a cast of thousands). It was hard for me to really differentiate between them all, and even harder for me to believe that any of them would pan out, given the similarity between them. And guess what? Even if that was a misinformed approach, I turned out to be correct. But let’s look at Aldred’s numbers. Did he really warrant his status?
 
Going purely by record and ERA, then no, I can’t really make a case for him. Leading up to 1991, he had a cumulative 28-37 record with an average ERA of 3.98. Nothing special, right? Well, then you look at his k/9. How about an average k/9 of 7.3? Pretty good, right? And the BB/9….well, not as great. 4.9. So something like a 5/7 BB/K ratio. Ick. You could even be generous and say 5/8 and it’s still pretty lousy. Looking at his H/9 is even more grim. 8.05 per 9. So basically, he’s putting on an average of 13 baserunners per nine innings while generously striking out 8. Is it any wonder he flopped? The bigger question would be how he managed to stick around until 2000 while producing a career major league line of 20-39 with a 6.02 ERA (I know, I know, WINS, but his peripherals were even worse – how about a 1.4 HR/9 ratio?). I can only guess it’s because he was a lefty.
 
Still, I really like this card. I dug the 1991 design a lot, especially after a rather tepid 1990 design, and the shot sums up a young kid getting his shot in Spring Training. I seem to remember holding on to this card more because I liked the photo and design rather than thinking that Aldred would turn out to be anything. Either way, I think we’ve learned a valuable lesson here. The Tigers had no idea how to evaluate pitching prospects in the early 90s.
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Retro Rookies: Barbaro Garbey

1984 Topps Traded

1984 Topps Traded

I thought this would be fun…here’s a failed prospect from the early 80s with whom I’m completely unfamiliar. Garbey started his minor league career relatively late, at age 23 in 1980. I kind of wonder what the story is there, but he had a relatively empty .364 BA that year, which is not the greatest sign for a 23-yaer old in A-Ball. He was moved to AA and AAA in 81, and did okay but not great in AA, while stumbling miserably in AAA. He spent a year in AA in 82 and seemed to figure out AA, which you would expect from a 25-year old. His OBP was a paltry .336, but he smacked 17 home runs, which probably caught Detroit’s attention with the different standards of the day. He spent 83 in AAA, hitting .321 with 14 homers. Again, by those day’s standards, he looked like a pretty good prospect, even if he was a bit old.
 
So he made his ML Debut in 1984, where he hit .287 with 5 home runs. Not too bad for a rookie, right? Well, not so fast. He had a lightweight .716 OPS and 98 OPS+. that presaged his 1985 campagin, where the wheels came off. He managed to improve to 6 home runs, but OPSed only .685. He wouldn’t return to the majors until a 30-game trial with the Rangers in 1988, and then he was gone forever.
 
The lesson? You need to take a closer look at a minor leaguer’s peripherals before awarding them a starting job (or investing them in). Had he been a rookie in 1990, I would have shied away from him for his age, but there were other, stronger indicators of where he would end up.

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Rico Brogna

Brogna Gold Leaf

And here we begin a series of Gold Leaf Rookies. I fell in love with this insert set when it came out in 1991. It really had everything I could have wanted: almost full-bleed photos with overall really strong photography; the gold leaf, of course; and a super-strong roster of rookies for that year (save for Scott Leius, never understood why he was in there). I think my first might have been Ryan Klesko or Mike Mussina, but either way, I was totally hooked.
 
Brogna was one of those odd rookies in the 1989 Bowman set that I couldn’t make heads or tails of, like Stan Royer. In time, though, I learned that Brogna was an excellent power hitter, which picqued my interested a little more. I followed him, and was happy to see him break into the majors and do well, though he never became a star. This is definitely one of those cards that I plan to hold on to, however he did in his career.

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