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Young arms race: Detroit Tigers to rely on youthful pitchers in pool of available players

Detroit Tigers starter Casey Mize pitches during a spring training game against the New York Yankees on March 5 in Lakeland, Fla. (AP file photo)

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Major League Baseball dates:

First reporting date: Wednesday

First date to play:  July 23 or 24

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By NOAH TRISTER
AP Baseball Writer
Top prospect Wander Franco is part of the Tampa Bay Rays’ 60-man player pool, and the Detroit Tigers are including their most heralded young pitchers as baseball gears up for its abbreviated season.
Sunday was the deadline for teams to submit player pools, although additions can be made later. Many teams announced pools well below the 60-player limit.
These pools will be the players that Major League Baseball teams can call upon to construct their rosters, which begin the season with 30 players and drop to 28 after two weeks and 26 two more weeks later.
Franco, a 19-year-old shortstop, is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. He spent last season at Class A, so it would be quite a jump for him to contribute in the majors in the immediate future, but putting him in the player pool makes him an option for the Rays — and could help his development in a year when the coronavirus shut down the minor leagues.
Pitcher Brendan McKay and infielder Vidal Brujan, two other top Tampa Bay prospects, also made the pool.
“They are some of our more advanced prospects,” Rays general manager Erik Neander said. “Certainly on the position player side that’s where things went and why Wander was a leading candidate for a spot.”
The Tigers are rebuilding around pitching prospects — including Casey Mize, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. He’s in their player pool, along with Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez.
A majority of teams took at least five catchers, and the defending champion Washington Nationals included a whopping 36 pitchers in their pool. The Baltimore Orioles announced only 44 players total at this time — not counting outfielder Trey Mancini, who was listed on the 45-day injured list and is likely to miss the season following colon cancer surgery in March.
The Nationals included infielder Ryan Zimmerman in their pool, although he said recently he was still deciding whether he would play.
The New York Yankees listed Miguel Andújar and Tyler Wade as infielders/outfielders, a sign they could see more outfield time if Aaron Judge (broken rib), Giancarlo Stanton (strained right calf) and Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery) aren’t sufficiently healed. New York put right-hander Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) on the 45-day IL, agreed to minor league contracts with infielder Matt Duffy and catcher Max McDowell and released right-hander Dan Otero, then re-signed him to a minor league contract.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ player pool was without reliever Edgar Santana, who will miss all of the 2020 season after being suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. MLB announced Sunday that Santana tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
The Pirates did not include right-hander Quinn Priester or shortstop Nick Gonzales, their top draft picks from 2019 and 2020.
“There was a number of players, aside from Quinn and Nick, who we considered, and we just felt like that we remain hopeful that there will be an opportunity to get them in uniform at a facility in 2020 and if we can do that, that would be just a more productive way for them to continue their development,” general manager Ben Cherington said.