Christin Stewart Shows Improvement At Triple-A
The Tigers say that fans must wait until September to see 24-year-old, power-hitting outfielder Christin Stewart in Detroit. But as the second half looms with the Tigers still in relative contention, the prospect of a callup looms larger.
Stewart, a 2015 first-rounder from Tennessee, has done nothing at Triple-A Toledo to discount the fact he is a potential middle-of-the-order bat ready and waiting to contribute. Through 66 games he hit .274/.350/.504 with an International League-leading 13 home runs.
Power and patience have long been the lefthandend-hitting Stewart's calling cards, with a career minor league on-base percentage of .360 and isolated slugging of .242. The big big question he faces is his defensive ability in left field, which he has answered this season with his physical condition.
"He’s really committed himself to being the most fit, mobile and agile athlete possible,” vice president of player development Dave Littlefield said. "Obviously, he’s done well with the bat, but defensively he’s at the top of his game right now. He’s better than he’s ever been.”
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD
For all the publicity that trade acquisitions Isaac Paredes and Sergio Alcantara received as potential shortstops of the future, in the minds of many within the organization, Cole Peterson has stepped into that slot.
And there is no bigger advocate for the 22-year-old Peterson than Tigers legend and Hall of Famer Alan Trammell.
A 13th-round pick out of St. Bonaventure last year, Peterson is showing himself to be a ballplayer. Through 66 games at low Class A West Michigan, he hit .277/.326/.346 with 13 stolen bases. Just as significantly, he has found himself on ESPN’s SportsCenter multiple times for highlight-reel plays at shortstop.
"He's really easy to root for,” Littlefield said. "Does everything the right way. He’s an all-effort guy who makes plays defensively and is swinging the bat good.
"Strength is the key . . . If he gets stronger, he’s a big league player. I’m convinced he’ll work at it. He puts every possible ounce of effort into what he will do and he’s a gamer, so I think it will happen."
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** Catcher Jake Rogers' defensive ability behind home plate is well-documented, but he scuffled at the plate for Double-A Erie in the first half. The launch-angle swing which Rogers implemented last season has resulted in too much swinging and missing, but the Tigers hope his second-half rebound is underway. After sitting out a couple of games to work on his swing, Rogers returned to hit three home runs.
"He’s a confident guy who probably got a lot of attention in big league spring training,” Littlefield said. "He’s got to adjust now. Like any other young guy, if he doesn't have success, it hurts him. He’s probably dealing with that right now and hopefully he’ll work through that.”
** Righthander Franklin Perez was back throwing off a mound. The Tigers hope he can return to make a handful of starts this season. "He looks great,” Littlefield said.
** After retiring as a player in June, veteran catcher Brayan Pena will manage one of the Tigers’ two Rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliates.