When new Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris discussed his goal to reshape Detroit’s offensive identity, addressing the need for more young talent became a priority.
Harris’ first trade proved as much. Last December, the Tigers dealt reliever Joe Jimenez to the Braves for lefthander Jake Higgenbotham and 23-year-old third baseman Justyn-Henry Malloy.
“Scott Harris has made it clear that dominating the strike zone is going to be a core component of our system,” Tigers vice president of player development Ryan Garko said. “Justyn-Henry has immediately stood out as the embodiment of this mantra.”
Atlanta drafted Malloy in the sixth round in 2021 out of Georgia Tech. He began his collegiate career at Vanderbilt in 2019 but transferred to the Yellow Jackets after two seasons, including just 12 appearances in the shortened 2020 season.
Malloy slashed .270/.388/.434 in his 37-game pro debut with Low-A Augusta in 2021 before an explosive three-level jump in 2022 that culminated in an eight-game stretch for Triple-A Gwinnett and a stint in the Arizona Fall League.
Last season Malloy hit .289/.408/.454 with 17 home runs in 133 games. He ranked seventh in the minors with 97 walks.
“He controls the zone extremely well,” one scout who watched Malloy in spring training said. “I don’t think I saw him take a bad at-bat all spring.”
Malloy went 4-for-13 in Grapefruit League games with a .438 on-base percentage buoyed by a walks and two hit by pitches. The Tigers assigned him to Triple-A Toledo to open the season, where he racked up 11 hits—all singles—and drew 10 walks in his first nine games.
“The early impressions with Justyn-Henry is that he’s a player who controls the zone and hits the ball really hard,” Garko said. “He has a natural ability to manage his at-bats that is quite rare for such a young player”