BAPR Plus moves on to the defending AL Champs, who bring back most everyone from last year’s club while also adding Gary Sheffield. Because they had most of their lineup back, as you would expect, not a lot of prospects are making the Opening Day roster for Detroit.
Who’s Hot: Cameron Maybin did nothing to lower the lofty expectations scouts and Tigers fans have for the center fielder. After spending all of last season at low Class A West Michigan, Maybin was not awed by big league camp. He hit .420/.529/.905 in 21 at-bats. If these were the 2003 Tigers, there would have been a lot of talk about Maybin making the jump from low Class A to the majors. Thankfully for Maybin, the team has no need to rush him, but some of the big leaguers believe he could handle the leap. Manager Jim Leyland is trying to cool down the overheated expectations.
“He could come (up to the Tigers) quicker than I thought, but I’m not going to start talking about Cameron Maybin for our team right now,” Leyland said. “That’s way premature.”
As much as his tools, Maybin’s future big league teammates were just as impressed with his head-down, blue collar work ethic.
“He is a guy that is a first-rounder, but at the same time, he has the desire to be good and to be at this level. So many times guys get the label of first-rounder and you go, ‘Oh, he’s got the money, and he’s not going to work hard.’ He works hard. He is going to be a good player.”
Brent Clevlen has solidified his status as the team’s true backup center fielder. But with infielder Omar Infante able to handle the job, Clevlen will go back to Triple-A to work on his hitting. If Curtis Granderson goes down for any length of time, Leyland said that Clevlen, who hit .292/.393/.500 this spring, will be called up.
Who’s Not: With few jobs available, and most of the Tigers top prospects working in minor league camp, few prospects had a chance to shine or stink this spring. Kody Kirkland was already headed back to Double-A Erie after a .217/.290/.453 2006 season. He reaffirmed his need for more work with a .125/.176.250 spring that included 10 strikeouts in 16 at-bats.