Daniel Fields is a familiar name to many, as he is a hometown product. Fields was born in Detroit and played for the University of Detroit Jesuit High School. He was drafted in the sixth round by the Tigers in 2009. Fields negotiated a signing bonus of over $1.5 million and turned pro rather than accept a baseball scholarship from the University of Michigan. My daughter’s boyfriend is hoping to play baseball for U of M. I would be glad to negotiate for him, and will settle for far less.
The Tigers challenged Daniel with an assignment to Lakeland, where it would not be unusual for a college graduate to start his career. Fields was immediately moved to center field, hitting from the left side and throwing from the right. In his first season he did not disappoint. While his batting average was a bit low, his on-base percentage was excellent and his power was fine for a teenager in Advanced-A. But when repeating at Lakeland in 2011, his performance dropped across the board.
He started his third season in Lakeland in 2012 and saw some improvement, which he maintained after a midseason promotion to Erie. Last year, his first full season of Double-A, put some shine back on his prospect star. He has power, with 43 extra-base hits. He has speed, with 24 stolen bases.
I saw Fields play in Lakeland in 2011 and he looked overwhelmed at the plate. It was one game, and Avisail Garcia looked lost as well. Garcia looked entirely different when he arrived in Detroit. Incidentally there could not have been 100 fans at the game. If you desire to see a game in Lakeland and don’t want to fight thousands of fans, go in the summer for a minor league game.
Keys to Success
Fields needs to cut down on the strikeouts. In 2012 he barely dropped below a 20% rate, and last year was back up to 25%. He projects to have a rate around 30% in the major leagues, a level where few survive. For comparison, here are the highest rates last year: Chris Carter, 36%; Mike Napoli, 32%; Dan Uggla, 32%; Adam Dunn, 31%; Mark Reynolds, 31%, Pedro Alvarez, 30%; Chris Davis, 30%. To survive as a free swinger, you had better hit 20 home runs and have a walk rate over 10%.
Three – the number of immediate family members in professional baseball. In addition to his father Bruce who played for the Tigers among other teams, his older brother Aaron played two years in the minors.
Fields should spend the season at Toledo working on pitch selection. The Tigers have plenty of options in center field, so do not expect to see him as a replacement yet. And as a native Detroiter, do not expect a trade.