2011 TigsTools: Best Infield Defense

Infield defense can be one of the flashiest parts of the game as players make diving plays, acrobatic throws, and rob hits from would be base runners. Beyond the spectacular exists the footwork, range, instincts, hands, athleticism, and balance that comes with being a good defender. The combination of all of these gives those on this list a leg up as the premium defenders in the Tigers system.

Best Infield Defense
1. Gustavo Nunez (SS)
2. Cale Iorg (SS)
3. Brandon Loy (SS)
4. Dixon Machado (SS)
5. Eugenio Suarez (SS)

"He's the best up the middle defender I've seen in several years," said one AL scout. "Yes, I've seen [Jose] Iglesias. Nunez is better."

That is just a sampling of the glowing reviews Nunez has received over the last two seasons. Nunez is an ultra quick athlete with outstanding range and good instincts in the field. He can get to balls to both sides with ease and he has outstanding hands that enable him to gobble up ground balls. He still gets careless on routine plays and can try to do too much at times, but overall his glove is absolutely elite.

Cale Iorg is just a half tick behind Nunez in defensive ability, and Brandon Loy offers legitimate 65-grade defense with some scouts believing he compares with both Iorg and Nunez. Both Iorg and Loy are very heady defenders with plus-plus hands and overall outstanding actions.

Both Machado and Suarez offer 60-grade gloves right now and could project for more as they refine their instincts and gain more consistency. Both players get by on great hands and quickness right now but they could be even better with diligent work to improve their craft and let the game slow down for them.

Honorable Mention
Jordan Lennerton
Hernan Perez

Though rare to see a first baseman on a list like this, Lennerton is an outstanding glove-man over at first base. For a big man he is nimble around the bag, has great hands and truly spectacular understanding of his range and when to attack balls to his right. He saves his infielders with plus picking ability.

Perez is a converted shortstop who showed enough defensive chops to stick at the position but he ultimately profiles extremely well at second base. He can range to both sides easily and goes up the middle very well.

Projection Kings
Alwin Delgado

Delgado is a veteran of the club's Dominican program and while there he has flashed the tools to be a plus defender at a minimum. He is ultra-athletic with good range and actions that compliment his soft hands.

Others Considered
Rawley Bishop
Shawn Roof

Bishop rivals Lennerton as the best first base defender in the system and he even has enough chops to be a fringe-average defender at third base on occasion. Roof is more of a grinder that gets the most out of his limited tools, but his effort and style of play allow him to be a very solid defender for his club.


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