Organization's Top Power Hitters

After constructing one of the largest ballparks in the big leagues, it was obvious that the organization wouldn't be placing a premium on power hitters. But despite this, the organization hasn't completely avoided the big boppers, and has a few in the system capable of putting up big power numbers.

Any list of power hitters has to start with recent Arizona Fall League MVP Chris Shelton. Shelton crushed the ball at 2 minor league levels in 2003, but lost most of 2004 as he rode the bench for the Tigers. Shelton was originally considered more of a gap power hitter, but his powerful swing and impressive AFL showing lead many to believe he'll be able to hit for Home Run power as well in the big leagues.

Any power hitter list also has to include the hard-hitting trio from Erie – OF Curtis Granderson, 2B Ryan Raburn, and 1B Juan Tejeda.

Granderson and Tejeda both projected to have decent power potential, but neither had hit more than 11 Home Runs in a season. That changed once the two reached the friendly confines of Jerry Uht Park, where both surpassed the 20-homer plateau for the first time in their careers. Both had slugging percentages of over .500, showing that while the long ball came, they were still able to drive the ball into the gaps as well.

Raburn was always regarded as being a hard hitter (evidenced by his extremely hard swing), but was slowed significantly in his development by the career-threatening ATV accident. Raburn and his power swing now appear to be back on track, and so long as Raburn can keep catching up to fastballs, the ball will keep flying in the opposite direction.

The Tigers pair of young studs from the 2002 draft struggled in 2004 – but their power potential is still obvious. 3B Scott Moore still struggled with making contact and saw his average fall even more, but did blast 14 Home Runs in a pitcher-friendly park, leaving many still salivating at the possibilities, once he can start making more consistent contact.

Brent Clevlen also had a serious regression at the plate, and saw the confidence he possessed in 2003 completely disappear. But once he regains that watchful eye, he'll be able to start driving the ball again (and bring back the impressive slugging percentages he put up in his first 2 seasons).

The low-A club, West Michigan, also had a pair of hard hitters in 2004, although neither came with nearly the same accolades as Moore and Clevlen.

1B Kelly Hunt burst onto the scene as a relative unknown, but quickly made himself known, blasting 21 Home Runs and driving in 102 runs. The numbers are even more impressive when considering the fact that half his games were played in Fifth Third Ballpark, one of the toughest Home Run parks in all of baseball. The 23-year old Hunt doesn't have a great swing, but few can argue with his numbers.

Hunt's teammate, OF Garth McKinney, almost matched him in Home Runs, with 19. McKinney has arguably the most power potential of any position player in the system, with a hard swing and the ability to drive the ball at will. McKinney's problem has and will be his lack of consistent contact, an issue he'll need to address if he hopes to put his power swing to good use.

Another pair of players deserve mention from the Tigers short season A club – OF Jeff Frazier and C Dusty Ryan. Frazier has yet to show his power in the organization (but has had just 79 at bats), but displayed it throughout his college career at Rutgers – including a slugging percentage well over .600 his senior year.

Ryan hasn't yet completely matured physically, but has a good power frame, and has already shown good gap power (11 doubles in 157 at bats). With some more at bats and a little more maturation, Ryan should be even more impressive in the power department, especially with his Home Run swing.

And finally from the GCL, 1B Josh Lee didn't do much numbers-wise to make his case – but has an excellent power swing that he put on display in college, and made the Top 50 prospect list largely because of his power-hitting ability. The key now will be for Lee to turn that potential into production once he gets regular at bats.

C Cody Collet is another one to keep an eye on. Although injuries slowed him in his rookie season (limiting him to just 36 at bats), Collet has the frame and potential to drive the ball down the road.

One final player to mention didn't even appear on the field in 2004, as he was recovering from shoulder surgery. However, when the Instructional League rolled around, Wilkin Ramirez absolutely crushed the ball, and at the very young age of just 19, has plenty of room to fill out.

The Tigers are obviously not placing on emphasis on developing strong power hitters – as neither Comerica Park nor many of the minor league ballparks cater to such hitters. However, there are still quite a few players in the organization with some good pop in their bat – and that skill alone can earn you a shot in the show.

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