Position Projections: Second Base

With the presence of potential future star Omar Infante at second base, the Tigers don't appear in immediate need of a young second baseman to emerge. But nonetheless, the Tigers still have prospects in the farm system that'll be looking for a place to prove themselves for the '05 season.

Starting off in Toledo, after a pair of lackluster seasons following a near career-ending injury, Raburn finally put things together in the second half of 2004, emerging as a serious threat for the SeaWolves, carrying a .923 OPS, and earning himself a late season promotion to Detroit. Raburn is still blocked by Infante, but that shouldn't be his biggest concern as Raburn still needs to concentrate on his defensive skills (he just moved to second a little over a year ago) as well as making more consistent contact against better pitching.

Moving on to Erie, Michael Woods carried enormous potential when he was drafted as a first round compensatory pick out of Southern University, but thus far injuries have kept him from getting anywhere near that level. Woods has spent three injury plagued seasons with Lakeland, with varying degrees of success.

Assuming he's healthy, Woods should probably get a chance to handle the second base job for Erie. But, if his track record is any indication, it's hard to see him staying healthy for an entire year.

If that does indeed become the case, Donald Kelly may shift over from shortstop to grab the position. Kelly, projected to be a utility man at the next level, has already proven to be capable of handling the offensive side of the bill at class-A Lakeland with an .810 OPS and almost twice as many walks as strikeouts for them in 2003. Unfortunately, Tony Giarratano will likely be manning shortstop for AA Erie, and with Giarratano's top prospect status, its unlikely Kelly would unseat him. That still would leave the door open for Kelly to shift to second, should Woods go down again.

If Woods does indeed move up, Eric Rodland will likely get the bump up from West Michigan. Rodland had a solid yet unspectacular season for the Whitecaps, with a .700 OPS. Hopefully, another year of professional baseball and a bit friendlier offensive park will help Rodland's offensive side of the game.

With Rodland vacating the position, the Tigers could see a jump from the GCL Tigers' second baseman Stephen Young. Young, a later round draft pick of the Tigers in the '04 draft out of Princeton, quickly impressed, proving to be an already polished player on an otherwise young and inexperienced squad. Young could get a much larger challenge at the full season level than he did with the rookie club.

Francisco Castro's underwhelming performance in Oneonta as well as a poor start to spring training resulted in the release of Castro by the Tigers. This leaves Young without much competition at West Michigan, unless the Tigers sign someone to keep the spot warm for Young, being afraid to rush him.

Wherever Young doesn't end up, the Tigers could elevate a former backup to the spot, or it's possible they'll go out and sign a veteran minor leaguer to bring some experience, much like they did with Juan Llamas in '04.

As for the GCL Tigers, their second baseman likely won't be known until following the upcoming amateur draft.

Overall, the Tigers have a few prospects, namely Raburn and Young, that show potential at the big league level, but again with Omar Infante in the fold, second base doesn't appear to be a priority, at least in the short term, for the organization.

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