By: Will Burchfield
Chris Bosio has his work cut out for him.
The Tigers’ new pitching coach is taking over a staff of arms that ranked last in the majors in ERA (5.36) in 2017.
But in speaking with Al Avila, director of pro scouting Sam Menzin and vice president of player development Dave Littlefield during the interview process — perhaps more aptly named the recruiting process — Bosio came to see there is help on the way.
The Tigers’ top four prospects — Franklin Perez, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows — are pitchers, all of whom rank among the top 100 prospects in baseball, per MLB pipeline.
“Working to find out more about the organization, you start to get the juices flowing a little bit about the talent that this organization has in the foreseeable future. They’re not that far away,” said Bosio in a conference call with local reporters on Thursday. “Those are the things that really get the juices flowing.”
Perez, the top prospect in the Tigers organization and No. 40 overall, was the crown jewel of the Justin Verlander trade. Manning (No. 60), Faedo (No. 65) and Burrows (No. 84) comprise the Tigers’ last three first-round draft picks. 16 of the Tigers’ top 30 prospects are pitchers.
“You start diving into the numbers a little bit more about exactly what they have, you look at their drafts, some of their international signings, and then obviously the history with Mr. Avila and the successful family name that they have in scouting, it really got my attention,” said Bosio, who was let go by the Cubs last month — surprisingly, to some — after six successful seasons as their pitching coach.
Bosio has already begun to sift through the Tigers’ farm system, “going all the way down to some of the Latin American guys,” he said. He sees a lot of potential in a lot of big arms.
“The one thing that really stood out from some of the information I got from Menzin in scouting was some of the arms that we have, the talent with velocity,” said Bosio. “We’ve got some guys with some power arms and some big bodies, and that’s always fun to work with as a pitching coach.”
The Cubs fired Bosio on Oct. 21, shortly after they were eliminated from the playoffs. Within two weeks he had a job with the Tigers. Avila knew who he wanted as Rich Dubee’s replacement, and he wasted no time in securing him.
“It was a pretty quick process,” said Bosio, noting he had constant conversations with Avila and Ron Gardenhire. “Everyone was on-level and to the point, and the biggest thing is that we were all speaking the same language about desires, needs and vision.”
Bosio won’t be an instant panacea for the Tigers’ pitching staff. But he’s been in this position before. He took over a Cubs staff that ranked 25th in ERA in 2011, and within five years it ranked first. A large part of that was due to an influx of talent, but it was also attributable to the turnarounds of Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel and the rise of Kyle Hendricks, three factors for which Bosio deserves a good deal of credit.
“Those guys are out there, you just have to find them, and most just need an opportunity to prove themselves. Collectively we’ll get together as a group and try to find those guys, those so-called diamonds in the rough,” said Bosio.
For the Tigers, there’s also plenty of jewels in plain sight. The pitching staff has a long way to go to regain respectability, but more hands make lighter work.
“It’s on the rise,” said Bosio. “There should be a lot of optimism in the organization for the fan base and everyone involved.”