Instructional League Wrap Up

The Tigers Instructional League season wrapped up rather abruptly due to the oncoming Hurricane Wilma. Nevertheless, the Tigers were still able to accomplish plenty in the month long extended season of work for some of the organization's top prospects.

Of course, much of the focus about the league was about first round draft pick Cameron Maybin, who signed just in time to get into camp a few days late and get some instruction from the Tiger coaches.

Early returns were certainly promising for Maybin; at least once one looked past the obvious rust associated with not having played competitively since his high school season wrapped up.

Maybin was regarded as a pure athletic specimen with incredible potential, making it easy to see why comparisons to Vladimir Guerrero and Ken Griffey Jr. were made prior to him getting drafted.

Of course, Maybin wasn't perfect in his three weeks of work for the organization. While he often abused the younger pitchers on the staff, the more experienced bunch gave Maybin fits, something that will certainly take time for him to adjust to. Maybin also struggled mightily with breaking pitches. This is to be expected from a player coming from a North Carolina high school league where the competition wasn't considered "elite" by any means.

But, in all, it was a good first step for Maybin, and an important one for him, as the few weeks of instruction he got will likely speed up his progress by leaps-and-bounds. Not only will the instruction now help, but they can pass along a set training schedule for him to work on up until he reports to camp next February.

Maybin wasn't the only player being watched with a close eye down in Lakeland though, as many were interested to hear the progress of Justin Verlander, who sat out the final month of the season.

Verlander was certainly impressive to the untrained eye, striking out opponents with relative ease, much like he did back during the season, where he quickly emerged as one of the top prospects in all of baseball.

Unfortunately, not everything is that promising, as numerous reports indicate that Verlander was not throwing at top velocity, something unbeknownst to onlookers as Joker Marchant Stadium doesn't have a radar gun displayed for the fans to see. This should be concerning to say the least, as after two months of rest, Verlander still isn't capable of pulling back and hitting the high 90's.

The Tigers have stated he'll be back at full strength by the time spring training rolls around, but we're more apt to take a wait and see approach for now.

One player that the Tigers had high hopes for when they acquired him last fall but never made it onto the field is Colby Lewis. Lewis was forced to sit out all year due to shoulder complications, and has likely come to the realization that he'll never be the same pitcher he once was.

But Lewis was still able to get out on the mound and fire away, leading to the possibility that he could still be a possibility for the bullpen. He'll also be one that will require a wait and see approach.

All in all, fall ball was once again a solid month of workouts for the Tiger prospects, as the majority of them have now headed home for some much need four months of rest, before returning to Lakeland next February for the start of what should be another exciting season of Tiger baseball.


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