Bryant Packard Builds On A Solid Foundation
Growing up in a Navy family, the concept of living out of a suitcase has never really bothered Bryant Packard.
So when the Tigers sent their 2019 fifth-rounder traipsing across three minor league assignments last summer during his pro debut, the 22-year-old outfielder didn’t really think much of it.
Packard spent the bulk of his summer at low Class A West Michigan and rose to high Class A Lakeland for the final week of the season. Overall he batted .296/.392/.422 with three home runs in 39 games.
"I didn't really have a problem with all the travel and all the moving around,” Packard said. "I will say it was tough though, just from a team culture aspect. You're always the new kid on the block.”
When it comes to adapting to new surroundings, Packard credits the advice he received during his time at East Carolina.
"We had a mental coach, Brian Cain. He taught us the key to a strong mental game,” Packard said. "We studied it probably twice a week in team meetings, and I've taken it to professional baseball.
"I think I'm very good at the mental game. It's very hard to master, but I feel like I'm getting better.”
Entering this season, the lefthanded-hitting Packard is looking to some swing adjustments from the offseason to give him early ground during his spring campaign.
"I think I would describe myself as an old-fashioned hitter,” Packard said. "That's how a lot of coaches describe me."
Despite the "old-fashioned” label, Packard was open-minded enough to purchase a Rapsodo swing analysis tool during the offseason.
"It was basically to reassure what I was doing was right, because you hit in the cage, you don't know if you're really top spinning or not,” Packard said. "Sometimes the cage can lie to you.
"I had the Rapsodo just to see if I could get my exit (velocity) to go a little higher, and I really wanted my launch (angle) at 20 degrees,” Packard added. "I don't think you can rely on or sell out to analytics because you have to have a foundation.”
— With big league camp in full swing in Lakeland, Fla., the Tigers' non-roster invitees were taking advantage of the opportunity to be seen against a higher level of competition. Coming off an electric Double-A campaign in 2019, Tarik Skubal was awarded the start in the Tigers’ exhibition against Southeastern University.
— Despite having just 27 innings under his belt in the organization since being acquired in the 2017 Justin Verlander trade, Franklin Perez encouraged the Tigers with his early work this spring. Perez worked at the Lakeland facility during the offseason, confirming that he experienced no setbacks.
— Two pitchers the Tigers will be watching closely in 2020 are righthanders Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser. Both originally were pegged as rotation arms but struggled in 2019, raising questions about their durability and reliever risk.