How Serretti cracked Tigers’ Top 30 prospect list

Detroit Tigers

Watch High-A West Michigan shortstop Danny Serretti on a given night and it can be tough to see him stand out in a Whitecaps lineup that features three prominent Tigers youngsters: top prospect Jace Jung, No. 12 prospect Izaac Pacheco and No. 13 prospect Roberto Campos. Serretti doesn’t have eye-opening power or breakneck speed, has just a trio of three-hit games so far this season and only one three-RBI game to his credit.

Watch Serretti for a week, however, and it becomes clearer how he cracked the Tigers’ Top 30 prospect list, where he currently sits at No. 29. The day-in, day-out consistency at the plate and in the field is easier to appreciate in larger doses. It’s a bit of a plot twist for a former University of North Carolina infielder who floated up Draft boards with an outstanding senior season after three years of development in Chapel Hill. The Tigers surprisingly drafted him in the sixth round last summer, then moved him across three levels — as he finished at Double-A Erie during the Seawolves’ playoff run, before settling him in at West Michigan this season.

“The thing that I like about Serretti is the understanding about who he is,” Whitecaps manager Brayan Pena said recently. “He goes out there and he’s the best player that he can be. He’s not trying to be somebody else. He’s not trying to go outside the box. He sticks with his game plan. He’s using what they give him.”

Even with Pacheco and Jung on either side, Serretti is the cornerstone of the Whitecaps infield, becoming an everyday starter at shortstop as a sure-handed fielder with a reliable arm. He has yet to record a four-hit game, but he has reached base safely in all but six of his 46 games this season entering Sunday. Even with more prolific hitters around the lineup, the switch-hitting Serretti has started more games atop the order than anywhere else.

While Jung’s three-hit, two-homer game Thursday against Wisconsin continued his midseason tear, Serretti quietly went 2-for-4 batting leadoff in front of him. His leadoff double set up a four-run first inning, while his fourth-inning home run, his fourth of the season, set up a critical answer after Wisconsin briefly took the lead with a four-run top half.

Combine a .288 average (51-for-177) with 13 doubles, 29 runs scored, 21 walks, an .818 OPS and a 133 wRC+ — add in just four errors in 42 games at shortstop — and the 23-year-old Serretti is garnering subtle attention beyond the top prospects.

“He knows that he’s going to be a gap-to-gap hitter from both sides,” Pena said. “The fact that he’s so focused about that, it really makes him successful. He’s not afraid to get to two strikes, because he can use the entire field. At the same time, he also can hunt good pitches. That’s why we’ve put him leading off. That’s why we’ve put him hitting third. He’s a solid player. And defensively, he moves well at shortstop.”

Here are some other players getting a bit overlooked across the Tigers system:

Triple-A Toledo: What initially looked like a fill-in stint for Corey Joyce as Mud Hens shortstop is now a regular role for the former 12th-round Draft pick from North Carolina Central, after the Tigers released former waiver-wire pickup Jermaine Palacios. Joyce batted just 2-for-32 (.063) with 14 strikeouts at Erie, but entered Sunday batting .247 in Toledo with six doubles, two homers, 10 RBIs, a .393 on-base percentage and an .834 OPS. He’s just 3-for-28 (.107) in June, but tripled and stole a base Saturday.

Double-A Erie: Andrew Navigato is no stranger in his third season with the SeaWolves, but the former 20th-round Draft pick from Oklahoma State has grown into an offensive catalyst, batting .319 with 10 doubles, five homers, 24 RBIs, a .925 OPS and 145 wRC+ while playing primarily at short.

High-A West Michigan: In addition to Serretti, first baseman Chris Meyers — a 13th-round Draft pick two years ago from the University of Toledo — is batting .333 with 13 doubles, nine homers, 32 RBIs and a 1.067 OPS in 40 games.

Class A Lakeland: Outfielder Dom Johnson has been written about here a couple times, but the 13th-round Draft pick last year from Kansas State has torn up Florida State League pitching of late, batting .394 (13-for-33) with two homers and 11 RBIs in June to improve to .261 with four homers, 28 RBIs and a .753 OPS on the season.

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