Tigers to stay sharp during layoff by playing games against minor leaguers

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Last time the Tigers were in the World Series, back in 2006, they had a six-day wait after winning the ALCS and manager Jim Leyland thought it hurt their performance.

This time around Leyland will try to keep the Tigers sharp by having them play games this weekend against minor leaguers from their instructional league teams.

Leyland laid out the plans to “Mike and Mike” on ESPN Radio this morning:

We actually have our instructional league team coming to Detroit and we’re going to play a couple of actual games Sunday and Monday and have a workout Saturday as well. We’re going to have our pitchers throw to hitters and we’re going to have our hitters face live pitching. So hopefully we’ll be a little more prepared this time.

That sounds like a good idea, unless of course a hitter pulls a hamstring or a pitcher tweaks an elbow, in which case Leyland will never hear the end of it. It should be a helluva thrill for all the minor leaguers involved, too.

American draft prospect Carter Stewart signs in Japan

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The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.

The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.

Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.

It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.

He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.