Tigers' Colt Keith Surges Forward Even In Injury-Shortened Year
The start to Colt Keith’s professional career was far from customary.
Drafted in the fifth and final round of the truncated 2020 draft, Keith had to wait until 2021 to make his pro debut with Low-A Lakeland. He hit .320/.437/.422 with one home run 44 Florida State League games before moving to High-A West Michigan for 18 games.
“Last year, I was kind of just a base-hit guy, but didn't really have that much power,” Keith said. “That's something I really worked on in the offseason, just getting stronger. I put on 20 pounds or something like that and came into this season with a change to my approach.”
This season, the 21-year-old, lefthanded-hitting third baseman returned to West Michigan and batted .301/.370/.544 with nine homers in 48 games. But then an ill-fated slide on June 9 jolted his shoulder and shut his season down.
“I was seeing the ball well, my swing was quiet—but also explosive at the same time—which is right where I wanted it to be, which was great,” said Keith, a product of Biloxi (Miss.) High. “That's what I wanted to do, so I achieved my goals. But it sucks it only lasted a couple months.
Keith's shoulder injury did not require surgery, but his recovery required "a lot of patience."
Keith’s days soon consisted of weighted-ball drills, hot and cold tubs, conditioning and the slow but steady throwing program under the watchful eyes of the Lakeland training staff. The light at the end of the tunnel was an assignment to the Arizona Fall League.
“My goal is to get back to where I was before I got hurt," Keith said, "in that way of fielding defensively, how I felt in the box, how I felt like I couldn't get beat against anybody who was throwing, whether it was 98 (mph) or 90.”
Keith had heard that the AFL competition level was roughly equivalent to Double-A.
“I just want to hang out with those guys, get used to the vibes of that level and that competition," Keith said. "That'll prepare me for next year when I hopefully make Double-A.”