We all know the drill. Don’t get too excited about spring training. For the past three seasons, that’s been pretty easy for fans of the Detroit Tigers. However, as the better prospects are beginning to make their presence felt, and the 2021 roster is fortified with a decent selection of veteran players and reclamation projects, things are finally turning a little brighter for the organization.
One of the biggest stories of 2020 was an eye-catching month of pure raking from shortstop Willi Castro. While his peripherals screamed regression, and his struggles at the shortstop position drew much discussion, he set the bar high enough with the bat to expect a quality offensive campaign in 2021.
So far, he’s off to a pretty good start. In Sunday’s opener, he crushed the second pitch he saw this spring for a home run to centerfield off of veteran Ivan Nova. After a day off on Monday, Castro was back at it again against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday afternoon. He took this J.T. Brubaker hanger and mashed it out to right centerfield with aplomb.
Speaking of the new breed, the Tigers Rule 5 selection, outfielder Akil Baddoo, has acquitted himself well in the early going. He struck out in the first inning of Tuesday’s contest, and walked in the fifth. In between, he took this rising heater away and roped it the opposite way into the left field corner. So far he already has three balls in play at 102 mph or better. Pretty good stuff from a guy who hasn’t faced game action since early 2019 at the Advanced-A level.
Casey Mize didn’t have particularly good fastball command on Tuesday, something we’ve seen a fair bit of over the past year. He walked three and struck out three in two scoreless innings, with A.J. Hinch allowing him to throw 45 pitches, 25 strikes, to get through his first spring outing. Still, the splitter was in effect as usual.
The Tigers took the five inning long exhibition contest by a score of 6-1. JaCoby Jones contributed an RBI double, while Spencer Torkelson drew a walk and came around to score in his first professional plate appearance. Jake Rogers continued to swing right through a lot of fastballs. Bryan Garcia threw one scoreless inning of relief, while veteran reliever Erasmo Ramirez allowed the lone Pirates run.