DETROIT — The crowd around the batting cage at Comerica Park as Izaac Pacheco took his swings Monday afternoon included assistant general manager David Chadd, assistant hitting coach Mike Hessman and several current Tigers players. Robbie Grossman was among those who said hello in the dugout. Pacheco’s agent, Scott Boras, was in the stands behind home plate with his family.
It looked like a throwback to a couple of years ago, when 2019 No. 5 overall Draft pick Riley Greene put on such a show in BP that Miguel Cabrera joked he should stay. Pacheco didn’t hit any balls onto the upper-deck porch in right field like Greene did that day, but he put a handful of balls deep into the right-field box seats. It was impressive for Detroit’s second-round pick from this year’s MLB Draft.
“It’s huge,” Pacheco said of his first impression of Comerica Park, echoing the sentiments of many Tigers Draft picks before him. “The two cars [on top of the fountain] I’ve heard have engines in them, that they’re real cars. So that’s pretty cool. Getting to play every day in this ballpark is a dream.”
Looking at Pacheco’s 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, it isn’t difficult to see him as a big league hitter, even though the 18-year-old has plenty of development to go. He already has the physique, and a big one for a shortstop. Combine that with a fluid, efficient swing that generates launch angle, and it’s a sight to behold.
“I love meeting him. He’s pretty famous where I live in Houston,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch. “When we drafted him, I probably knew more about his background than any of the guys we drafted.
“My favorite part is watching the big leaguers respond to him, like, ‘How old is that kid? How big is that kid? Where’s he gonna play?’ He opens eyes when he walks up to you just because of his physical presence.”
Not surprisingly, Pacheco — who grew up following the Astros — was also wowed when he met Hinch.
“It was really cool,” Pacheco said. “I honestly went to pretty much all of his World Series games and playoff games down in Houston. And getting to see what he did down there in Houston and the success he had, you can already see the great things he’s doing here, so it was really cool to me.”
This isn’t the first exposure to the big leagues that Pacheco has had this summer since signing with the Tigers. He batted against Matthew Boyd while the left-hander was rehabbing at the club’s Spring Training complex in Lakeland, Fla., and he homered in a similar setting off veteran righty Julio Teheran.
“He hung a slider,” Pacheco admitted. “But his cutter’s insane.”
Pacheco also hit a homer in the Florida Complex League, his first exposure to pro ball in a game setting. He batted .226 (24-for-106) with four doubles, two triples, seven RBIs and a .669 OPS. His 43 strikeouts against 18 walks show where he could improve, but his extra-base power shows his impact when he connects.
Pacheco also demonstrated his ability to make adjustments by finishing strong. He batted .300 (12-for-40) with two doubles and two triples over his final 11 games, including one of each in his season finale.
“I think I just told myself to be more calm and let the pitcher come to me,” Pacheco said. “I became more patient and I drew more walks and I got the pitches I wanted to hit and I made really good contact.”
“Actually, no one knew that we were pretty close before the Draft,” Pacheco said. “And then we lived together in Lakeland, so that helped a lot. He’s one of my best friends. He’ll be here [this week], so it’ll be cool to see him.
“That’s the goal, to be the new Tork and Greene, to be those guys. And I really think we can with the hard work that we both put in and the sacrifices we make. So I’m excited.”