Organization's Top Defensive Players

One of Alan Trammell's biggest gripes with his 2004 club was their defense – or lack thereof. Inside, take a look at some of the budding prospects who can claim strong defensive skills as one of their top assets.

Any list of standout defensive players among the Tigers minor league ranks has to start with OF Nook Logan. Logan is a speedster first, who has been able to use his speed and help make him one of the top defensive Outfielders in minor league baseball. Logan's bat isn't as far along as his glove, but there's a reason the Tigers were openly discussing giving Logan the Centerfielder job with the big league club in 2005 – Logan can track balls in Center with the best of them.

Another player that garners more interest because of his defense is Third baseman Jack Hannahan. Much like Logan, Hannahan's bat isn't where it needs to be, especially for a Third baseman, although he did make strides in 2004, bringing his average up to .273 and his slugging up to .398. But what gives Hannahan a chance is his excellent glove and footwork, as well as an accurate arm across the diamond.

Hannahan's left side of the infield mate, Shortstop Anderson Hernandez, is also good with the glove. Up until 2004, Hernandez was widely regarded as a defense only player – until his offense came around, probably partly due to the move to Jerry Uht Park's friendly confines. Hernandez is extremely quick at short, and can get to most balls hit in the holes. His arm strength isn't great but he gets the ball out of his glove quickly, and helps make up for it with his superb range.

Hernandez better be careful though, because he has a Shortstop counterpart just a level below him that is also one of the best defensively in the organization. Tony Giarratano made gigantic strides at the plate in 2004, but those accomplishments shouldn't over-shadow Giarratano's already solid performance in the field. Tony isn't extremely quick, doesn't have incredible range and doesn't have a cannon for an arm, but does all things well, and has the defensive skill set to be a solid big league shortstop defensively.

One final Shortstop of note defensively is recent draftee Brent Dlugach. Dlugach is uncharacteristically tall for a Shortstop (standing at 6' 5"), but that has yet to prove to be a deterrent in his abilities in the field. Dlugach moves well and can make all the throws – but isn't of the same caliber as Hernandez, where his defense alone could carry him to the big leagues.

Moving back to the Outfield, the Tigers have another pair of Centerfielders that can handle their own, albeit not quite at the level of Nook Logan.

TigsTown.com's Top Prospect, CF Curtis Granderson, is a solid athlete and in turn is capable in the field. He's not a burner and doesn't have a cannon, but is smart, takes great routes to the ball, and doesn't take plays off.

Like Granderson, Blue isn't quite the athlete that Logan is, although he has plenty of natural ability to allow him to get to balls in the gaps that would otherwise drop. What Blue still needs to make strides in is Granderson's greatest strength – his route-taking and smarts in the field still need to improve – but many hope that will come with time.

Back behind the plate, the Tigers don't have any prospects that are the same caliber defensively as Brandon Inge, who was one of the best defensive catchers in all of the minors when he was prospect, but Maxim St. Pierre is very solid behind the plate. Besides calling a good game, St. Pierre stops almost everything thrown near the plate, and has an extremely quick release on throws. St. Pierre's problems again rest with his bat, as he's struggled to bring his bat along to the same level as his defense.

Another notable is another recent draftee; OF Jeff Frazier. Frazier has yet to make a big impact in the organization after his rookie season was cut short because of injury, but still has proven in his college career that he's sound defensively. Frazier makes his living in the corner Outfield spots, and while his range is good there, he's best asset is his arm strength, as he became arguably the top gunner from the Outfield in the organization the moment he was drafted.

One final player to note is 2B Stephen Young – the GCL's lone mentionable among the players on the list. Young doesn't play a premium defensive position, but is still solid in all aspects in the field, including a consistent glove and respectable range. He won't be a gold glover, but certainly won't be a liability.

The Tigers minor league system isn't bursting with excellent defenders – outside of Logan and Hernandez, none of the group is really considered to be excellent defenders. Blue could be one eventually, but has a lot of work still left to go. But make no mistake about it; if next season Trammell is looking for a defensive upgrade from the minors, he'll have some options.


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