Why these Detroit Tigers prospects have a rock-star feel: They can hit, and they can win

Detroit Free Press

MIDLAND — The energy outside the stadium felt like a rock concert.

Music was thumping through the loudspeakers, and every few seconds, high-pitched voices would erupt, screaming inside the stadium. The sidewalks were jammed, and a long line of cars were waiting to find parking.

Walking up the sidewalk, I turned to my left and saw at least 75 school buses lined up in the parking lot.

This was a minor league baseball game?

A game with an 11 a.m. first pitch?

The vibe was simply incredible on Tuesday morning when the West Michigan Whitecaps played the Great Lakes Loons in front of a record crowd of 6,906 at Dow Diamond.

OK, so I’m pretty sure that half of the middle-school students in the Tri-Cities area played hooky on Tuesday — or rather, they went on a seriously cool field trip, as a “School Kid’s Day” turned into a showcase of some of the Detroit Tigers top prospects.

Kids playing in front of kids — how fitting.

“It was so fun,” Roberto Campos said through an interpreter after the Whitecaps’ 11-10 win. “It was loud with everybody going crazy and so much fun.”

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Campos is one of the Tigers’ most important prospects.

And he played like it.

Campos went 2-for-4, scored three runs and knocked in a pair, thanks to a homer and a double.

“I was just looking for a pitch right in the heart of the zone,” Campos said, “and that happened.”

Yes, indeed.

That happened.

But there was one other thing.

Campos showed off the organizational mantra — just control the strike zone — when he displayed patience, drawing a walk.

Now remember, he’s just 19 years old.

“I’m feeling good and just keep adapting,” he said. “This team is really good because we’re treat everybody like family. We just try to be together all the time and go out and play hard every day. That’s why we are getting success.”

MORE ON CAMPOS: Why this Tigers prospect underwent a big swing change in the offseason

FROM 2022: Tigers prospect Roberto Campos energized by family, hitting

An interesting look at some prospects

Yes, it was only one game.

But you couldn’t help but to look at these Tigers prospects and think: “Man, some of these kids can really play. Even better, they can hit. The future can’t come fast enough.”

Jace Jung, arguably the top prospect in the organization, had the day off.

But the Whitecaps didn’t miss a beat.

Izaac Pacheco went 2-for-5 with a homer and scored two runs.

That brought to mind what A.J. Hinch said about Pacheco back in spring training: “I love him,” Hinch said. “I’ve known him since he was pretty famous in the Houston area as an amateur. … He’s fearless.”

More: Why Detroit Tigers prospect Izaac Pacheco is Mr. Fearless

Yes, he was fearless again.

“I’m taking it day by day,” Pacheco said. “Whether I do good or bad, my main goal is to stay consistent through my preparation, my routine, every day. I think in the long run that’s going to help me with my career.”

It helped in the short run, too.

“To get a win the first game of the series is always big,” Pacheco said. “Just happy we got the win. It was fun. It was loud. Those kids were loud.”

So were the Tigers’ kids.

They played loud.

Not just the big names

Here’s a name you need to know.

Justice Bigbie, a 19th-round pick out of Western Carolina, went 2-for-4, scored a run and knocked in another.

Now, if that were a one-game performance, it would be no big deal.

But Bigbie has been coming up big all season. He’s hitting .376 with five homers and a 1.102 OPS.

On a team with several big-time prospects, Bigbie was the one who hit in the No. 3 slot.

That’s telling.

And here’s another name you need to know: Danny Serretti, a gifted shortstop.

He was taken in 2022’s sixth round out of North Carolina, and he’s hitting .312. He drove in a pair of runs on Tuesday.

Then all those prospects seemed to put it all together, in one moment.

In the eighth inning, down 9-8, Campos drew a walk — showing all kinds of patience.

Pacheco blooped a single, and Bigbie laced a ball into the left-center gap, driving in a run.

Then with two on and one out, and against a drawn-in infield, Chris Meyers had a broken-bat single that drove in two runs.

Meyers is another name to keep an eye on. The first baseman came into the game hitting .267 with five homers and six doubles in just 21 games.

“We believe in each other,” Whitecaps manager Brayan Peña said. “We trust each other. We believe in the chemistry that we got, and we play for each other. When you do that, good things happen.”

Lots of good things are happening for this team. The Whitecaps improved to 21-13, which also says something about the talent level, not just the hitters but the pitchers.

“Our guys, they’re very excited,” Peña said. “They’re very enthusiastic and as you saw today, we didn’t give up. We pick each other up and they took care of business.”

Yes, they did.

The big names. Not to mention the Bigbie.

Say what you will about the Tigers, they have some fascinating talent percolating deep in the minors.

And it can’t come soon enough.

Contact Jeff Seidel at jseidel@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.

To read Seidel’s recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel.

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