Brent Clevlen likes Lakeland

Brent Clevlen
Photo Credit: Roger DeWitt

Brent Clevlen, last year’s Florida State League MVP with Lakeland, has picked up right where he left off last season. He got the start in centerfield today, and homered off of Cliff Lee and doubled off of CC Sabathia. This comes one day after he hit a homer and drew a walk against the Braves.

Clevlen hit 302/387/484 last year as a 21 year old in high A ball. While he figured prominently on various team prospect lists, it didn’t land him on the Baseball America top 100. (Although he just missed as John Manuel revealed in a chat). The main reason being is that 2005 was his second go around in the FSL. After solid seasons in Rookie Ball and with the Whitecaps, Clevlen struggled in 2004.

Playing as a 20 year old in the FSL he hit a meager 224/300/350 and struck out once every 3.3 at-bats. After hitting 12 homers in 2003 at West Michigan, he only managed 6 in Lakeland. It appeared that the Tigers might have another failed draft pick on their hands. Instead of progressing to AA Erie, Clevlen was sent back to Lakeland in 2005.

Clevlen was selected in the 2nd round in 2002 out of high school. After his successful season last year, BA made him the #4 prospect in the organization and as they project him to break into the big leagues they had this to say:

If Clevlen makes consistent contact like he did last season, the next league he’ll repeat is the American.

While Clevlen isn’t a threat to make the team this year, his success so far this Spring Training is encouraging. His progress as he moves to AA will be one of the story lines I’ll be watching most closely in 2006.

prospects, detroit tigers, lakeland tigers

Tiger Roundup

The Tigers moved to 2-0 during grapefruit league action after outslugging Cincinnati 17-10. Danny Knobler reports that Justin Verlander was shaky at first, but managed to pitch his way out of it. And he did it without a visit from Jim Leyland or pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.

Leyland isn’t against mound visits, but he’s also big on individual responsibility. He wants players to think for themselves, and he wants to see how they react in tough situations.

“Get out of your own jam sometime,” he said this morning, before Verlander even took the mound. “Figure out how to do it.”

Former Tiger pitching coach Bob Cluck has found a job. He’ll be a minior league pitching consultant for the San Diego Padres.
Continue reading Tiger Roundup

Voice of the Turtle

For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Play Ball!

For those who aren’t aware, this was how Tiger fans were greeted after a long cold winter. Ernie Harwell would read the scripture passage before the first spring training game of the year. Now this year, the first broadcast isn’t until Saturday, so we wouldn’t hear it today anways. Nonetheless, the the Tigers kick off the Spring Training season today against the Reds. They unofficially began yesterday with their traditional exhibition tilt with Florida Southern. Carlos Pena picked up where he left off last season going 1-2 with a home run as the Tigers edged the Moc’s 4-3.

In other news, Magglio has been under tremendous pressure from his country-men to play in the WBC. So, I can’t really blame him for changing his mind and deciding to play.

It’s a sunshine day…spring training round-up

There is nothing like the spring training for hope to spring eternal. This hope come across stronger than ever the first week of camp when the beat writers are relishing the sun.

  • Add Magglio Ordonez to the list of players who have reported to camp looking better. Ordonez has also said he doesn’t want the WBC to interfere with his preparation for this season. Danny Knobler also notes that Polanco will be Leyland’s #2 hitter.
  • Lou Whitaker is back in camp as an instructor. Lou has always been my favorite Tiger, so it was interesting to hear how Leyland was involved in moving Lou from third base to second.
  • Apparently the the bullpen competition is a little lighter due to Craig Dingman’s rare injury. Dingman put together a pretty good season last year, and this is certainly a sad story if his career is over. Sam has done a ton of research on the matter, which is difficult since this is relatively unknown. Here’s hoping he’ll be alright.
  • And of course we’re all waiting to see the new slimmed down (or at least slimmer) Dmitri Young. In the meantime we’re left with this quote: “I’m single now, I can’t be fat.”

Spring Training Linkfest

The first day of spring training is complete, and it is so nice to see stories about baseball. It’s February and optimism time for Detroit Tiger fans.

  • Danny Knobler has a blog over at Mlive. His first report finds: a moratorium on talk of last year out of respect to Trammell, Pudge is more relaxed and 6-8 pounds heavier than last year, the 25 man roster will have 12 pitchers, and those pitchers will be taking grounders every day.
  • Jason Beck talked with Pudge. Rodriguez plans on playing 140 games this season.
  • While not a spring training article, Baseball Think Factory launched a new blog called Baseball Centrist. If you want to keep track of everything being written about the Tigers main competitors, this is the place to go.
  • Rob Parker wrote something for the Detroit News today. A couple of blogs have already weighed in on the article. I’m not going to respond or even link to the article. It is such a poor piece of writing that it doesn’t warrant a rebuttal. Columnists like Parker write things to stir the pot and get people riled up. This was such garbage it doesn’t deserve the attention.

detroit tigers, baseball

Dombrowski gets it

All the Nook Logan-Curtis Granderson job battle articles have clearly raised my hackles. Missing from the stories are any quotes from the actual decision makers – until now. Crystal Evola has this from Dave Dombrowski:

“Curtis Granderson, I think, is ready to play in the big leagues after what he did last year at the minor-league level and coming up to the big leagues,” Dombrowski said. “Nook showed some fl ashes, and we all know what an exciting player he can be, what his speed brings to a lineup offensively and defensively, he brings a dimension that not many players in baseball bring.

“So, you have some different alternatives. It’s a situation where one of them can win the position outright, you also have the potential, because Nook’s a better hitter from the right-hand side than he is the left-hand side at this point, that he could actually platoon, and also because Curtis Granderson can play left field or right field that you could put them both in the lineup at one time and DH one of the other guys or give him a day off. A lot of that will be determined in spring training by their advancement and how they continue to progress.

Maybe I’ve got my happy glasses on, but here’s what I take from that quote:

  • Recognition for what Logan can do, which is run and wreak havoc
  • While the job isn’t necessarily Granderson’s, it sounds more like Logan will have to play his way in.
  • There are other options than one or the other. There could be days when both play
  • Recognition that Logan can’t hit as a lefty

I know one could argue that Logan shouldn’t be taking at-bats away from anybody. However if he gets the occasional start to rest somebody – even Curtis – that isn’t such a bad thing.

detroit tigers, baseball

Four warming words

Pitchers and catchers report, one of the best combinations of 4 words in the english language. Pitchers and catchers report is probably up there in the 4 word phrase pantheon with on the ensuing kickoff and in one shining moment. The simple phrase signals the start of spring training, and finally it is here.

Tomorrow morning the Detroit Tigers will open camp in Lakeland, and we’ll probably have our first reports from the media. In the coming days we’ll here from Pudge Rodriguez and probably read in great detail about what sort of physique he’s sporting. We’ll hear from newcomers Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones. We’ll hear from rookie hopefuls Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya as they battle for a rotation & roster spot in their first trip to the big league camp.

And we’ll most definitely hear from Jeremy Bonderman who was kept off the World Baseball Classic team by the Tigers. Detroit has decided to exercise their right to protect the young ace citing his elbow tenderness in the second half of last year.

“I think he’s going to be fine,” Dombrowski said. “There’s no reason to believe he won’t be fine. We just can’t take any chances with that.”

A very prudent move by the Tigers. Now if only they could/would exercise the same provisions with Pudge Rodriguez, Carlos Guillen, and Magglio Ordonez.
baseball, detroit tigers