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Cale Iorg, playing his way out of the Tigers' plans, loses starting SS job

Hyped 2007 third-round draft pick Cale Iorg hit a big road-block to his major league future when he recently lost his position as the Mud Hens' starting shortstop to Argenis Diaz. Iorg you'll recall once wowed scouts and team officials alike. He's been called a four-tool prospect. Jim Leyland called him an upper-echelon prospect; Dave Dombrowski said he could be an all-star -- "very soon" -- back in September, 2008.

Woulda, shoulda, coulda, didn't.

The 24-year-old Diaz has now passed the 26-year-old-to-be Iorg on the depth chart. On Saturday, Diaz started at shortstop and Danny Worth at third base. Iorg will now be Toledo's utility player, getting time at second base, third base and outfield, in addition to shortstop.

John Wagner of the Toledo spoke with Hens manager Phil Nevin and interim director of player development Kevin Bradshaw about their plans for Iorg and had a lenghty post at his Coop Scoop blog today. Essentially the pair say the Diaz has earned the chance to start. Iorg just has not produced. The Tigers aren't giving up on him by any means, but he's going to have to earn his playing time.

Wagner quoted Nevin:

"Cale is going to start working at different spots. Right now he's working hard at playing second base and a little third base, and he's working on some things in the cage with [hitting coach Leon] "Bull" Durham that we think will help him, trying to create a little spark."

Wagner wrote:

Both Diaz and Iorg came to the Mud Hens this year with the same reputation: Both were above average defensively, but both struggled at the plate. Diaz entered this season with a .263 batting average in the minors and .242 in the majors (in 22 games for Pittsburgh last year), while Iorg had a .228 mark in three minor-league seasons.

But Diaz has hit well this season, batting .310 in 61 games with a .381 on-base percentage.

I wondered if this wasn't really a case of the Tigers wanting to see Iorg at second base and third base more often, as those are positions currently with little depth. However, when I checked with a source it was confirmed Diaz has surpassed Iorg in the Tigers' eyes. So it doesn't sound like we should expect Iorg to join the Tigers any time soon -- unless he starts hitting consistently, anyway. If anything, Diaz and Worth can both play third, and Worth can play second.

So it sounds more like the continued slow, sad downfall of Iorg. That's really unfortunate, too. Shortstop is such a difficult position, and an expensive one to try to fill by signing a free agent or making a trade. Being able to put a player with Gold Glove caliber abilities there with a bit of pop in his bat would have been real nice for the Tigers. But now you struggle to find any reason to get excited about the organization's prospects at the position.