The winter league season is getting into gear, with a couple handfuls of Detroit Tigers prospects participating abroad in preparation for a shot at the big leagues next spring. While one particular player has been raking south of the border, another has been conspicuously absent from play. So what exactly is going on with the Tigers’ biggest-ever overseas signee?
Roberto Campos is on his way
In case you are not familiar with him, Roberto Campos was an international free agent signing of the Tigers back in 2019 who received a $2.85 million bonus — more than half of their $5.4 million international signing budget — at the tender age of 16 years old. He defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic as a 13-year-old in 2016, joining his father and brother who had left Cuba prior. There, the young Campos refined his game until the Tigers came calling three years later.
Talking about his experience, he offered the following provided by the Detroit Free Press.
“This has been a dream. When you leave a country and get to another one and fulfill your dreams and reach your goals, one of the first things you do is think about the family, everyone that’s supported you since you were a kid to make this dream come true.”
Heading into 2020, Campos was expected to participate in the Dominican Summer League, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, setting his development back a bit as it has for many others in his position. However, if things go well, he is hopeful for a spot in the Tigers’ minor league camp next February — in fact, he sounds pretty excited about it.
“I’m crazy for being there. Just to get to Lakeland and start playing with the guys and develop my career.”
In the meantime, the 17-year-old prospect does not appear to be participating in any of the winter leagues — meaning his layoff from live games will extend even longer before spring training begins — and he also remains in the Dominican, staying with his family while patiently awaiting the call from the mainland.
Nonetheless, he is taking a professional approach that shows maturity beyond his years.
“I know and we know that we have this burden over our shoulders. This type of pressure is the same pressure that every professional athlete has. This is the only thing I know I can do. So I’m dealing with it.”
Isaac Paredes tearing up the Mexican Pacific League
The latest news on one of the Tigers’ best positional prospects is extremely encouraging, as infielder Isaac Paredes has started out strong in the Mexican Pacific League, crushing a fourth-inning grand slam last Wednesday as part of a 4-for-5 effort with four RBIs.
While there are not a great deal of resources for following Paredes as he plays for Venados de Mazatlán’s winter league club, MLB.com does have a page for finding basic information. Here is a look at the Tigers’ third base prospect’s offensive statline so far.
Why Alex Lange was protected from Rule 5 Draft
One question that was on the minds of many last week when the Tigers topped off their 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft deadline was why the fourth player — lesser prospect Alex Lange — was included along with the three-headed beast that is Matt Manning, Joey Wentz and Alex Faedo. Here is what Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield told the Detroit Free Press last Friday.
“He’s an athletic, strong-bodied right-hander that’s got a good arm and a real good breaking ball. The other thing is we brought him to the alternate training site (in Toledo) a couple of different times. Those are kind of the things behind it where we had a chance to see him more.”
Littlefield further elaborated on his point.
“Look at his past. He spent 2019 in Double-A and last year we brought him to minicamp, and he was in and around our major-league people. We brought him to, once things got going again, to Spring Training 2.0, and then brought him to Toledo for some time.
“All these things point to that he’s getting closer. We’re going to have some opportunity in regard to some of our younger players. We’ve seen that in the past couple of years. He’s among the group of guys that we think have a real chance to help us in Detroit.”
The spot Lange currently occupies was opened when 2019 team home run leader Brandon Dixon was released ahead of the deadline. The 28-year-old utility man just did not offer the upside that the 25-year-old Lange offers, making the decision quite easy for the Tigers’ brass. Hopefully Littlefield’s projections prove true and right-handed hurler contributes to the club in 2021.
Around the horn
MLB during COVID-19: Behind the scenes with the New York Yankees through Adam Ottavino’s lens. If you could remove one player from MLB history, who would it be? You wish 2020 would end, but this Twinkie Town writer says it never even happened. I love baseball but always felt like an outsider; Kim Ng shows there’s a place for fans like me. Eno Sarris’ four free agent pitchers who could be intriguing on one-year deals. Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field named national historic landmark.
Baseball is awesome
TIL about William Hoy, a deaf outfielder who played on various teams from 1888 or 1902.— Justin Choi (@justinochoi) November 22, 2020
He's credited with having helped invent the hand signals for "Strike!" "Safe!" and "Out!" We're all fluent in the sign language of baseball, thanks to him! pic.twitter.com/moCRInGZwL