The Detroit Tigers project greatness from Isaac Paredes.
And after just five days on the big-league roster, the 21-year-old third baseman already is showing his potential.
Not what he will become.
Just what he could become.
“This guy can hit,” manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday. “We’ve said that from the get-go. He can swing it. … The organization has said this is one of our guys of the future, and he’s here now. We’re going to benefit from it because he can do some things. He’s a tough kid.”
Paredes propelled the Tigers to a 10-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Friday night, with a fourth-inning grand slam at Progressive Field that helped the Tigers end a nine-game losing streak and also a 20-game skid against the Tribe, the worst against a single team in franchise history. The slam — the first homer of Paredes’ career — came on a 91.5 mph fastball from Indians right-hander Adam Plutko in the fourth inning and gave the Tigers a 7-5 lead.
“I feel capable, knowing what’s going on and knowing what I am doing,” Paredes said Friday through translator Carlos Guillen. “I know that I’m a rookie, and I know that I still have a lot to learn. You know, one step at a time.
“Makes me want to work even harder to become a part of the overall winning team.”
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In many ways, Friday’s performance was a microcosm of his refinement process. Even though he went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts, he showed a clear ability to recognize pitches and adapt.
During his first at-bat in the third inning, he didn’t swing once. In a 3-2 count, he watched a curveball paint the corner for a punchout. An inning later, he belted a 1-2 fastball just over the left field wall.
“I could recognize all the pitches,” Pardes said, “even though I couldn’t swing at any (the first at-bat). I studied the pitcher, and it was a situation of bases loaded ( an inning later). I felt responsible to try to do something, and fortunately, it happened.”
Paredes’ approach is fairly simple: He wants to single three times every 10 at-bats. Of course, his bat has too much pop for him to just be a singles hitter. The power he displayed Friday is a big reason the Tigers promoted him, hoping to boost the ballclub’s offensive strength after first baseman C.J. Cron — a high power, high strikeout player — elected to undergo season-ending knee surgery.
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The Tigers don’t expect Paredes to shoulder the offensive load this season — he’s just 2-for-13 so far in the big leagues. But they do expect he’ll help them win a few games, just as he did Friday night.
So far, he has six RBIs through five games.
“He comes up, and you know that he belongs here,” second baseman Jonathan Schoop said. “The way he goes out there and handles himself, and comes in sharp and works every day and goes out there to play the game that he loves to play.”
In Paredes’ big-league debut Monday, he wasn’t satisfied. He connected on his first MLB hit for a two-RBI single — the only runs scored by the Tigers in a 7-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. But the team didn’t win.
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His maturity spoke volumes when he explained his frustration with the loss, even on the night of his debut.
“I’m somebody who wants to win a game, and we didn’t,” Paredes said Monday. “We couldn’t win the game. The individual stuff was secondary to the main goal, which was winning the game. So it wasn’t what I expected.”
That’s because he’s taking it one step at a time.
And in Paredes’ book, each step is another win for the Tigers.
“Good for him for saying that,” Gardenhire said. “That’s really important that they’re able to understand that and put it as a team thing and not just an individual thing.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.