Considering the circumstances, the Tigers might expect Michael Hollimon to scuffle.
But the 2005 16th-round pick out of Oral Roberts has handled everything Detroit has thrown at him this season with aplomb, hitting .323/.476/.516 at Double-A Erie.
That might not seem like a big deal for a 24-year-old at that level, but Hollimon is not only adjusting to Double-A after playing all last season at low Class A West Michigan. He’s also learning a new position: second base.
“I think if anyone could make that jump and handle that switch, he can,” Sea Wolves manager Matt Walbeck said. “He’s shown really good range at second base and he focuses on every little detail in early work–where the flip should be (on the double play), he works on his transfer, his footwork . . . and he really can separate his offense from his defense.”
Not that there has been much use in separating anything this early in the season. In addition to swinging the bat consistently and getting on base, Hollimon leads all Eastern League second basemen in fielding percentage and has yet to commit an error over his first nine games.
“He has the athletic ability to play wherever we ask him to play and the athletic ability to play wherever he wants to play,” Tigers farm director Glenn Ezell said. “He’s provided leadership on every club he’s been on and his makeup is off the charts.”
Hollimon played exclusively at short in the short-season New York-Penn League after signing and stayed at the premium position as Walbeck’s shortstop last season at West Michigan. But with Tony Giarratano and Brent Dlugach–not to mention 19-year-old Dominican Republic native Audy Ciriaco–all seen as premiere defenders at the position in the system, the Tigers moved Hollimon to second base during instructional league.
“He took to it very quickly,” Ezell said. “In terms of skipping a level, I don’t even think of that as an issue. We felt he’d be up to the challenge and we wanted to find out if he could be a major league player. I know one thing, there was no way Walbeck was about to turn him down (for his Double-A club this season).”
Walbeck said he was ‘pleasantly surprised,’ when the decision to send Hollimon to Erie came down. A switch-hitter with better power from the left side, Hollimon was Walbeck’s team captain for the Whitecaps last year.
“He’s better from the left side, but I’ve seen him make tremendous strides as a righthanded hitter,” Walbeck said. “He repeats his swing well and he never throws at-bats away. One thing with Mike is you always know what you’re getting. That makes my job, everyone on this club’s job a little easier.”
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