2012 TigsTools: Best Infield Defense

Well played infield defense is a beautiful thing. Coaches, scouts, players and fans alike can appreciate quality infield defense when they see it. When the routine play is made, routinely and the dazzling diving stops are both made by a player, that player is capable of capturing our imagination. Which players in the Tigers system stand out for the defensive prowess? Check inside to find out!

Best Infield Defense
1. Dixon Machado (SS)
2. Eugenio Suarez (SS)
3. Brandon Loy (SS/2B)
4. Devon Travis (2B)
5. Manuel Joseph (SS)

Machado has long been considered a quality defender. He had the tools to own a top notch glove and as the game slowed for him this year, he put those tools on display with great regularity. Even at a young age, Machado shows excellent range, smooth footwork and soft hands, allowing him to make every play. His arm adds to the package as well. Machado is a plus-plus defender at the game's most difficult infield position.

While Brandon Loy moved over to second base for the bulk of the 2012 season in deference to Eugenio Suarez, both players are capable of showing plus defensive ability up the middle. Their range is a plus and their footwork and hands are very good as well. Loy's move to allow Suarez to play shortstop every day was more about Loy's projected future as a utility player than it was ability relative to each other.

Devon Travis offers some of the best hands in the system and easily the best hands out of all second baseman in the organization. He lacks top-end range, but he gobbles up everything he gets to, is strong on the pivot and an overall above-average to plus defender at second base.

Honorable Mention
Alwin Delgado (SS)
Jordan Lennerton (1B)

Stateside fans may have gotten their first exposure to Delgado this year, but he has been on the defensive radar for a while, ranking as a "Projection King" last year. Another smooth shortstop with good tools, Delgado is a natural shortstop defender. Lennerton is the best first base defender in the system, displaying good footwork, soft hands and a knack for picking low throws.

Projection Kings
Willy Adames (IF)
Domingo Leyba (IF)
David Gonzalez (IF)

Adames and Leyba represent two of the Tigers more notable signings from the 2012 international signing period. Both players received low six-figure bonuses. Adames is the more toolsy defender with a higher ceiling and a greater uncertainty about his defensive future. Leyba is a solid all-around player that should be a quality glove up the middle. Gonzalez could easily vault toward the top of this list next year, as he shows the type of raw defensive ability to exceed the projections currently placed on players like Suarez and Loy.

Others Considered
Javier Betancourt (SS)
Cale Iorg (SS)

Betancourt's defense stands out because of his instincts and feel for both shortstop and second base. He's not particularly toolsy as a defender, but he has very solid glove work. Iorg has long been one of the top defenders in the system and he can still flash the leather at previously seen levels. In 2012, he showed a propensity for taking his struggles at the plate into the field, compromising his defensive value, and ultimately costing him a spot on this list.

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