In the final set of awards handed out before the coveted TigsTown Organizational Player and Pitcher of the Year are named, we distribute the hardware to those just a step away from the big leagues. Who came home with the awards?
As if this award could go to anyone else, Curtis Granderson clearly established himself as the top member of the Toledo club while he was down in Ohio. After a short period of adjustment, Granderson picked up where he left off in 2004, reaching double digits in all three extra base hit categories. Granderson, who besides providing solid defense in centerfield hit out of position a bit at the top of the order, was simply the most reliable member of the Mud Hens. Granderson also proved capable of adapting to his surroundings, including posting a .530 or better slugging percentage in each of the last three months that he was a member of the team. Having now spent the final six weeks in Detroit, there should be no question that Granderson is for real, and will receive every opportunity to win the starting job in Detroit in 2006.
When Kenny Baugh was forced to sit out for more than a year with injury concerns, the Tigers weren't too optimistic about the former first round draft pick. Despite the injuries, Baugh has persevered and proven that he can indeed handle the competition, proving to be the most consistent starter throughout the year in Toledo. And for the third consecutive year, Baugh improved on his numbers across the board, even though he was never able to see his velocity return to its pre-injury form. Baugh has proven without a doubt that he is ready for big league competition, and he'll likely receive the chance to compete for a spot on the Tigers' staff in 2006.