Five to Watch: Lakeland

Casual Detroit Tiger fans may enjoy seeing a minor league game, but aren't necessarily certain who, or what to be looking for when they go to a game. Not to worry, as TigsTown.com has you covered. Not sure who to take a long look at who may be emerging in Detroit over the coming years? Read on for the players to watch for the L Tigers.

1. SP Justin Verlander. The 2nd overall selection in the 2004 amateur draft, Verlander makes his pro debut in Lakeland after signing a major league contract in the offseason. Verlander has already been working extensively with Tigers' coaches on smoothing out his rather violent delivery, and fans will get their first chance to see the handiwork and one of the Tigers' top talents in Lakeland.

2. RF Brent Clevlen. Another highly regarded prospect, Clevlen had a rough 2004, regressing in almost all facets of the game after a strong 2003 when he was with West Michigan. Because of a glut of outfielders in the upper levels of the organization as well as Clevlen's struggles, he'll look to solve some of his problems in the Tigers camp in Lakeland.

3. SP Nate Bumstead. Verlander may have been the 2nd overall pick in last year's draft, but Bumstead wasn't even taken until the 32nd round. That didn't stop him though from dominating New York-Penn League hitters for Oneonta last year. Bumstead doesn't have the pure stuff of Verlander, instead relying on deception and movement to get hitters out. Bumstead will be one to watch as he tries to overcome the odds of a righty that only reaches the mid 80's making it all the way to the big leagues.

4. 1B Kelly Hunt. Hunt was another unheralded player drafted by the Tigers, who then made a big splash last season with the Whitecaps, setting a new record for home runs for the Whitecaps with 21, a remarkable number considering the gigantic park they call home. While Lakeland's park isn't much smaller, the ball seems to travel better in the warm air, and Hunt could make an even bigger mark in 2005 for the L-Tigers.

5. RP Eulogio Delacruz. The young Delacruz had his first taste of full season ball in 2004 with the Whitecaps, showcasing his mid to high 90's fastball, but showing little else as far as an off-speed pitch. Delacruz will likely get an opportunity to close again, but will need to see development of an off-speed pitch, especially in the Florida State League where he'll begin to face more experienced hitters, hitters that won't be beaten simply with a hard fastball.


Tigs Town Top Stories