As we plumb the depths of the Tigers' 40 man roster, we move from catcher to first base where we find Jordan Lennerton. He was not expected to be added to the roster entering the 2013 season, but Jordan earned a spot with a good season in Toledo. With six years in the minors the Tigers risked losing him in the Rule 5 draft. Dave Dombrowski holds his cards close to the vest, but hours after Lennerton was added to the 40 man roster, Prince Fielder was traded to Texas.
Jordan Lennerton attended high school in Langley. British Columbia. He was drafted in the 50th round by Toronto, but chose to play for El Paso Community College. He was next drafted by Milwaukee in the 41st round, but instead moved closer to home and played for Oregon State University. When the Tigers drafted him in the 33rd round, he finally signed.
Lennerton started in the Rookie league in 2008 and has steadily advanced through the system. The 6'2" left-handed hitter consistently posts a .280 batting average, a .380 on-base percentage, and a .430 slugging percentage. He played in Triple-A Toledo for all of 2013, and produced his typical .278/.382/.430 slash line.
Lennerton can also field his position. Baseball America named him the top defensive first baseman in the Eastern League in 2012, and he received a Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2013 as the top defensive first baseman at any level in the minors.
Jordan was honored as an Eastern League All-Star in 2012 and an International League All-Star in 2013. He also played in the All-Star Futures Game in 2013, earning an interview with BYB. This game brought Nick Castellanos attention in 2012, when he was named the MVP.
We see Castellanos on every prospect list, whether the Tigers' or all of major league baseball. Yet we rarely see Lennerton's name. Why not? He turns 28 years old this year, too old to be a prospect. But not too old to provide some value in a limited role.
Keys to Success
Patience. Opportunity. Health. I hesitate to say more, because success for Lennerton implies a major issue for the Tigers.
Number of home runs in World Series competition: 4
Lennerton hit one in a semi-final game of the 1998 Little League World Series, and three for the Oregon State Beavers in the 2007 College World Series when they repeated as national champions
The most likely future for Lennerton is another good season trapped in Triple-A. If so, he should be looking to sign on in Japan or Korea for the 2015 season and maximize his earning potential. Before the 2013 season, he played for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Following the season he played in Puerto Rico, tearing up the league by slashing .340/.414/.539 and being named the most valuable player. He clearly loves to play, and is open to exploring the globe.
Meanwhile, Lennerton will serve as an insurance policy. He has enough ability to allow Cabrera a couple weeks off to heal if needed. Seattle loves to collect hitters without flexible defensive positions, and Lennerton is from nearby British Columbia. Dave Dombrowski could hype him for a few months, then trade him to Seattle in July for a missing bullpen piece. Or the Tigers could finally promote him for the playoffs, when the roster could really use a left-handed pinch hitter with power.