Tigers Organization Report
Keeping Tabs On Bazardo
LAKELAND, Fla.--Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila saw Yorman Bazardo pitch three impressive shutout innings at the Caribbean Series, but that wasn't the first time Avila noticed the 22-year-old righthander.
Avila was the Marlins' scouting director in 2000, when Bazardo, then 16, was signed out of Venezuela. Miguel Garcia, the signing scout, now directs the Tigers' operations in Venezuela. And Dick Egan, the veteran Detroit scout, had turned in favorable reports on Bazardo, who went 6-5, 3.64 in 25 starts at Double-A San Antonio last year.
So Tigers officials were in agreement when the Mariners designated Bazardo for assignment, in order to clear space for Jeff Weaver. The Tigers decided to pursue a trade and acquired Bazardo for outfielder Jeff Frazier.
Detroit has no shortage of young righthanders--highlighted by Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya--but seized the opportunity to add a pitching prospect who ranked third in the Marlins' system after the 2004 season. Bazardo also has one option left, which affords the club some flexibility.
Bazardo has pitched almost exclusively as a starter during his minor league career, but pitched out of the bullpen for Aragua in the Venezuelan League this winter. He excelled in that role, going 2-0, 1.78 in 21 appearances.
"We're going to take a look and see where he fits," Avila said. "He may end up being a reliever."
The Tigers haven't decided where Bazardo will pitch in 2007, but Triple-A Toledo would appear to be a likely destination.
Bazardo's fastball topped out at 98 mph as he rose through the Florida system, but has more recently been clocked at 90-94. He has a slider, but his primary out pitch is an above-average changeup that Avila said was "pretty darned close" to that of the Tigers' own Fernando Rodney.
Frazier, meanwhile, was the club's third-round pick in 2004 out of Rutgers, but other righthanded-hitting outfielders in the system--namely Cameron Maybin, Brent Clevlen and Gorkys Hernandez--served as obstacles to his progress.TIGER TALES
• The Tigers designated righthander Preston Larrison for assignment in order to clear room for Bazardo. Larrison, 26, is out of options.
• Larrison would have faced long odds at making the Tigers out of spring training, given the presence of righthanders Chad Durbin, Jordan Tata and Zach Miner and a cast of lefthanders.