#19 - Juan Tejada

In the 1999 Draft, the Tigers selected C Eric Munson with the 3rd overall pick (with plans of moving him to 1B) and thought they had their long term answer at First Base. However, the Tigers acquired Carlos Pena, and Munson ended up moving to Third Base. So, the Tigers haven't invested much in the position lately, but that doesn't mean they are completely bare at the position.

Juan Tejada was signed by the Tigers in 1999 as an undrafted free agent out of the Domincan Republic. He spent his first three seasons with the organization playing in Rookie ball and short-season A ball. He spent 2002 with low-A West Michigan, and 2003 with high-A Lakeland and has continued to progress nicely ever since entering the organization.

Tejada had a productive season for Lakeland, leading the team in RBI with 76 (not quite as impressive as his 2002 total of 106 with West Michigan) as well as finishing 2nd on the team with a .280 average. Tejada's fielding isn't especially impressive, but as a First Baseman, it's not a huge issue. The only current concern with Tejada is that he has yet to fully develop his power stroke (had 10 HR's last year, has never hit more than 11 in any minor league season).

Tejada isn't viewed to be a potential 40 homer First Baseman, but rather one with a solid average and good RBI numbers. This isn't ideal (especially with the Tigers currently lacking a big power hitter in the middle of the lineup), however, that doesn't leave Tejada without hope. While his Home Run totals have been low, he's had very impressive Doubles totals (many scouts believe high Doubles totals will slowly lead to power as players develop more physically) - but at age 22, if the power numbers are going to come, they need to start soon.

Expect Tejada to set up shop with the AA Erie SeaWolves. 1B Carlos Pena is the Tigers starter, and Dmitri Young will back him up, so there's no rush on Tejada. The most important thing to see from Tejada is continuing to bring runs in and improve his Home Run total.

Tejada definitely is not a high ceiling player, but he could surprise some people, especially if he can increase his Home Run output. His defense isn't exceptional, so a move to another position like 3B isn't likely (Outfield may be however). If Tejada continues to hit like he has, he'll get a shot in Detroit - but for him to stick as a major league First Baseman, he'll need to improve those power numbers, or he could end up as a career minor leaguer.

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