Clevlen is yet another Detroit outfield prospect who had the opportunity to play quarterback at the collegiate level. Clevlen was a star athlete for Westwood High School, and was taken in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft by the Tigers. Brent was projected as a fringe first-round talent, whom the Tigers were thrilled to find available with their second choice. Upon signing for $805,000, Clevlen began raking right away in the Gulf Coast League, notching a .330/.372/.495 line as a rookie.
Brent continued his success with West Michigan of the Midwest League in 2003, despite the pitcher-friendly confines of Fifth Third Park. After his first two seasons, Clevlen was considered to be one of the top prospects in the system, and a likely candidate to hit Detroit by late 2006. Then came his dismal 2004 season with Lakeland. Clevlen regressed in every facet of his game during a rough season that dramatically tarnished his prospect star. Brent bounced back in a huge way while repeating the Florida State League in 2005, taking home FSL MVP and TigsTown Organizational Player of the Year honors with a .302/.387/.484 season.
With his first taste of Double-A came more struggles, as Clevlen never really got going at Erie in 2006. His last full month with the ‘Wolves was his best, as he posted a .266/.355/.489 line and took home the TigsTown Player of the Month award for Erie. His potential alone earned him a couple of brief call-ups to Detroit. His time in Detroit went well, including several runners gunned down, and a monster homerun off of David Wells, over the Green Monster and on to Lansdowne Street in Boston.
Clevlen is a superb athlete and a natural baseball player. The game comes easy to him, and he typically looks fluid and confident in all his actions on the field. At the plate, Clevlen has average pitch recognition skills and has worked hard to curtail his habits of chasing wild pitches. His plate discipline could stand to take another step forward, but it is projects to remain acceptable at this point. His power potential is top notch, but his swing gets long and he goes into streaks where he pops the ball up routinely. Clevlen must refine his aggressive approach at the plate, and continue to maintain a short, quick stroke to be a successful offensive player at higher levels.
Defensively, Clevlen has solid average range, and progressing instincts. His speed is enough that he could cover center in a pinch, but he is much better suited to a corner slot. His arm is very strong (arguably the strongest in the system) and accurate. Clevlen loses focus in the field and must mature mentally to become a defensive asset.
Overall, he has the ceiling to be a perennial All-Star in right or left field. His offensive and defensive package – with consistency – could push him to be an incredible asset in Detroit. At this time, he projects very much in the mold of Craig Monroe, but that projection could be shattered if he learns to harness all his abilities. A peak for Clevlen could look similar to the top years Bobby Higginson put together with the Tigers.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% AA
Clevlen has not experienced any significant injuries at this point in his career, and his work ethic should keep his frame durable and able to play nearly every day.
After getting a taste of the big leagues, there is little doubt Clevlen wants to get back. He'll need to refine his approach at the plate and mature mentally to make sure that happens. His ceiling is such that the Tigers are likely to be patient with him, but he must continue to make progress.
He'll start the 2007 season at AAA-Toledo, and should see some time in Detroit at various points this season. The Tigers have plenty of outfielders on the 25-man roster, so it could take several injuries for him to get much more than a taste here or there. If Clevlen stagnates again in 2007, he'll quickly be passed by Cameron Maybin for a true shot in Detroit. Consistency is the key, and it starts with a strong effort in spring training this year.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.