Chris Shelton was originally a member of the Pirates farm system out of the University of Utah. Shelton spent his first three seasons with the Pirates, until this offseason when Detroit selected him in the rule-5 draft. The contingency, as always with the rule-5 draft, is that if the Tigers don't keep him in the majors all year long, they will be forced to offer him back to the Pirates for half the cash that they took him for (originally $50,000).
2003 IN REVIEW
Shelton spent a good portion of 2003 in low-A Lynchburg, where he was on pace to possibly become a triple-crown winner before he was moved up all way to AA Altoona. Shelton led the club with a .359 average with 21 HR's and 69 RBI – all league highs at the time of his departure to AA. He wasn't as impressive at Altoona, but in just over 100 at bats he still proved he could hit the ball with his .279 average.
The issue with Shelton has never been his bat – very few question his ability to hit the ball for average and power. What's more problematic is his lack of a true position. He has played Catcher in the minors, but very few believe he'll be able to cut it in the majors as big-league backstop. A move to First Base or the Outfield will probably be in store, however even there his defense will be suspect. Long term, Shelton is considered more of a DH, probably the reason he was left unprotected by the Pirates.
As stated before, it's either now or never for Shelton with the Tigers. To stick with the organization, he'll have to stick with the big league club. Pittsburgh would love to have Shelton back, even though they're not sure where they can put him in the field – especially without the option of using him as a Designated Hitter. Other position battles could determine whether or not Shelton sticks – namely, whether or not the Tigers can afford to carry a young pinch-hitter on the roster for an entire season.
Shelton is going to have a tough time sticking with the Tigers this spring. He has an excellent bat, and the Tigers would love to be able to hold on to him, but right now the Tigers will need every roster spot that they can get, and it will be very difficult for the Tigers to carry Shelton all season long – unless he can provide a significant contribution to the big league club – which is hard to see as he has only a month of experience in AA and nothing above that. The Tigers might initially try and keep Shelton on the roster (especially because they might go with only 4 starting pitchers through the first 2 weeks of the season), but don't be surprised if he ends up heading back to Pittsburgh.
#13 - Chris Shelton
Tigs Town Top Stories
2017 Offseason Player Development PlansAfter a two-year hiatus, the Tigers elected to bring back their Fall Instructional League for an additional few weeks of baseball at the conclusion of the minor league season.…
Tigs TownYesterday at 7:31 PM
2016 Toledo Mud Hens Season in ReviewIt was a tough year for the Mud Hens, as a roster constantly in flux, and a rotation robbed of many of its young stars to support the big league club, resulted in the team…
Tigs TownYesterday at 5:21 AM
WTKA Podcast: Final Run for Wild CardPaul Wezner joins Sam Webb on the Michigan Insider on WTKA 1050AM in Ann Arbor and WTKA.com to talk about the Tigers final week of the season, including if they can make one final…
Tigs TownWednesday at 5:18 AM
Tigers Renew Affiliation with Erie, ToledoWith the contracts expiring at the end of this season, the Tigers announced the renewal of their player development contracts for both of their upper level farm teams through the…