Fields is a local metro-Detroit high school product with baseball in his blood. His father, Bruce Fields, was a 7th round pick of the Tigers in 1978 and saw action in 58 big league games as part of a professional playing career that ended in 1991. The elder Fields also served as a hitting instructor in the Tigers organization.
Daniel was considered a borderline late first round to second round talent coming out of high school with a strong commitment to the University of Michigan on a baseball scholarship. The Tigers did their homework and pried him from his college commitment with a signing bonus north of $1.5 million as a sixth round pick in 2009.
The Tigers held Fields back in extended spring training for a time in 2010, before pushing him all the way to High-A Lakeland as a 19-year old. In 109 games for the Flying Tigers, Fields posted a .240/.343/.371 line, showing an approach beyond his years. Fields also managed 27 extra-base hits and eight steals, though he was caught nine times, and also struck out in 119 at-bats.
The term toolsy was invented for players like Fields. He flashes all five tools at an average or better level, and he has the potential to be an impact level player if it all comes together for him.
Fields is an exceptional athlete. He is a plus runner that routinely turns in 4.10-4.15 times to first base from the left side, and one scout had him as low as 4.05 last summer. Some talent evaluators feel he will lose a step as his lower half thickens up, but he should still be an above-average runner long term.
That speed should play on the bases and in the field, though his base running instincts are pretty rough at this time. A long time shortstop, he has taken to the outfield well. He gets good jumps on balls off the bat, and his routes have improved rapidly, to the point where most project him as a plus outfield defender. Though he has played center field so far, most scouts project him as a right fielder down the line.
Lauded for a plus arm at shortstop, Fields is still adjusting to the throwing mechanics required of an outfielder, but every once in a while he lets one fly and shows the arm strength many have seen in the past. As he continues to learn on the job, he should get back to showing an above-average to plus arm.
At the plate, the luxury of professional exposure and teaching at a young age is very evident. Fields has an advanced approach for a player his age. He knows the strike zone very well and is willing to work counts for a pitch he can drive. His pitch recognition is solid but he has to adjust to the better quality of breaking balls and change-ups he sees as a pro.
His hitting ability will likely lag behind his other tools for a little while. Fields did not face top flight high school competition in southeast Michigan, and it may take him some time to make the adjustment. The long term prognosis for Fields' hitting ability is a bit of a question. Some scouts see a guy that should hit for a solid average, while others see more of a low-average type of player.
Fields has plus power potential and he already flashes it in game situations, despite some of his struggles with contact. He can drive balls out to all fields, but really excels at turning on pitches and driving them to right and right-center.
Fields has a tantalizing combination of power and speed, and it is easy to get excited about his future. His ceiling is that of a player capable of posting 20-20 seasons or better, but there is a fair bit of development remaining to achieve that lofty projection.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% A+
Fields has been healthy throughout his amateur and professional careers. He's a hard worker with excellent training habits and a good body.
Fields is destined to repeat High-A Lakeland this summer, but the Tigers won't rule out the potential for a shot at Double-A in the second half if he succeeds in his second tour of the Florida State League. Repeating the FSL still keeps Fields well ahead of the age-development curve.
Reports out of spring training indicate he's taken more strides forward since last fall, and expecting a much improved performance in High-A is not unreasonable. The Tigers never hesitate to push priority prospects, and if Fields performs this season, he could be fast tracked even more. A strong 2011 season could put him pushing toward the big leagues in September 2012, with a more likely time table of sometime in 2013.
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