Tuesday, November 30 2021

In the beginning, there was Matt Manning, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal.

The trio of Detroit Tigers starting pitchers — then prospects — drew early attention for their noticeable “bromance” while they developed in the minors, thanks to an extended stint together in Double-A Erie in 2019.

Next up on the “bromance” list were first baseman Spencer Torkelson and outfielder Riley Greene, drafted No. 1 overall in 2020 and No. 5 overall in 2019, respectively. The duo bonded in the instructional league last fall, and were then reunited in Double-A this summer before their joint promotion to Triple-A in mid-August. After six weeks of starring with Toledo, Torkelson and Greene are expected to be in the big leagues next season.

And now, the third wave begins, taking their cue from the prior two: 19-year-old starting pitcher Jackson Jobe and 18-year-old infielder Izaac Pacheco.

The Tigers drafted Jobe, who signed for $6.9 million, with the No. 3 overall pick in July; Pacheco went in the second round (No. 39 overall) and inked his deal for $2.75 million.

“That’s the goal, to be the new Tork and Greene, to be those guys,” Pacheco said Sept. 20, sitting inside the Comerica Park dugout. “I really think we can with the hard work we both put in and the sacrifices we both make.”

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Izaac Pacheco before a game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on September 20, 2021. (Allison Farrand / Detroit Tigers)Izaac Pacheco before a game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on September 20, 2021. (Allison Farrand / Detroit Tigers)

Izaac Pacheco before a game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on September 20, 2021. (Allison Farrand / Detroit Tigers)

Jobe and Pacheco finally got their first tastes of the big leagues at Comerica Park in September, complete with a meeting with Manning, Mize and Skubal.

Manager AJ Hinch and his players offered them warm welcomes, as agent Scott Boras — who represents both players, as well as Manning, Skubal, Matthew Boyd and Jonathan Schoop — observed and mingled with his associates. Pacheco, a left-handed hitter, went through infield drills and took batting practice during his Sept. 20 visit, and Jobe tossed out the first pitch with his right arm the next day.

“Nowadays, we push players pretty fast,” Hinch said. “The more that they can build a culture of winning and togetherness and teamwork, the better. It doesn’t make them all immediately come up to the big leagues at the same time, but building that chemistry will hopefully pay dividends if they get here at the same time.”

The duo’s outings at Comerica Park were far from their first interactions.

Before they were drafted by the Tigers, Jobe and Pacheco became friends through travel baseball showcases and tournaments. They first spoke in September 2020 at the Perfect Game All-American Classic, an event for top high school players in Jobe’s hometown of Oklahoma City. Pacheco wasn’t from too far away (at least in Texas terms), arriving from Friendswood, Texas, just outside of Houston.

When they weren’t on the same field, they texted back and forth. Conversations about the upcoming draft were a focal point, from agents — Pacheco enlisted Boras as an pre-draft adviser, then got Jobe on board with the super-agent — to workouts to the hopes of joining the same team. The experience was new for them, and created a strong bond.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Pacheco said.

SEIDEL: How Jackson Jobe went from barely touching 90 mph to Tigers’ top pick

Jackson Jobe before a game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on September 21, 2021. (Allison Farrand / Detroit Tigers)Jackson Jobe before a game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on September 21, 2021. (Allison Farrand / Detroit Tigers)

Jackson Jobe before a game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on September 21, 2021. (Allison Farrand / Detroit Tigers)

Now, the relationship is evolving in the Tigers’ farm system.

For the past two months, Jobe and Pacheco were stationed in Lakeland, Florida — home of the Tigers’ spring training complex. They found joy in living together and navigating the professional lifestyle. The way it played out was a dream come true.

“It was a game changer,” Jobe said. “Being able to have a high school guy with you is a lot easier, let alone one of my best friends. It definitely made the transition a lot earlier. It just felt like a bunch of dudes going to play baseball, having fun and just hanging out. It didn’t feel like I was out there working or had a job to do. It was just going to the ballpark every day, working out and having a good time. It was a blast.”

Jobe is ranked as the Tigers’ No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and Pacheco comes in at No. 6 on the list. (Torkelson and Greene are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively; not too long ago, Mize, Manning and Skubal were atop the rankings.)

“Every time I get on social media, one of them is hitting a home run or doing something cool,” Jobe said of Torkelson and Greene. “Definitely want to follow in those footsteps and do something cool and be able to go through it all together. I know that’s not how it works out all the time. But they’re great guys. We’ve gotten to talk to them a little bit.”

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Pacheco played 30 games in the Florida Complex League, better known as rookie ball, in August and September. He hit .226 with four doubles, three triples, one home run, seven RBIs, 18 walks and 43 strikeouts.

Transitioning from high school wasn’t simple, but Pacheco felt more comfortable toward the end of his season. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound shortstop also received lessons on defensive positioning from Hall of Famer Alan Trammell, who helped explain where to set up when certain hitters step to the plate, based on the scouting report.

“For me, it’s just slowing the game down,” Pacheco said. “You go to the minor leagues and you play with the big organization, you want to speed the game up. I think success comes from slowing the game down, being relaxed and just having fun.”

While Pacheco settled in, Jobe is still waiting for his minor-league debut.

His final high school game came on May 14, followed by nearly a two-month wait for the July draft, leaving Tigers uneasy about ramping up his workload again. Although Jobe wanted to pitch in the Florida Complex League, the Tigers eventually decided to hold off.

“Being conservative with young arms is certainly the way of this era,” Hinch said. “Our guys that shut down in between their season and when they signed, there’s great risk with building them back up to the 100% intensity. With an arm of his caliber, we felt like that was best for him.”

[ What MLB draft pick Izaac Pacheco brings to Tigers, and how he’s already adjusting ]

In Oklahoma, Jobe dominated for Heritage Hall High School, posting a 9-0 record, 0.13 ERA, five walks and 112 strikeouts over 51⅔ innings in his senior season. His slider and 99 mph four-seam fastball are revered. The 6-foot-2 righty uses a changeup and a curveball, too.

In Lakeland, the Tigers allowed Jobe to throw “a few bullpens” to prepare him for February’s spring training.

“I was ready to go,” Jobe said. “I knew that there was a chance I could get in some games. Toward the end, they decided to stick with bullpens, which I completely understand. My personality and the way I go about things, I want to compete. I want to be out there. But I’m not going to win a job in rookie ball right now.”

Both newcomers will be tested in 2022, their first full season as pros. But if Jobe and Pacheco are successful, the Tigers won’t hesitate to move them up together — just like Mize and Skubal, and then Torkelson and Greene.

“We both hold ourselves to a very high standard,” Jobe said. “We both want to be the best.”

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers’ Jackson Jobe, Izaac Pacheco: ‘New Tork and Greene’?

Source: Yahoo Sports

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