Hollimon joined the Tiger organization as a 16th round choice out of Oral Roberts in 2006. The third time he had been drafted, this was Hollimon's final chance to turn pro. As a high school senior, he was dubbed one of the top players in the country, only to fall to the 32nd round because of high bonus demands. Hollimon was a 4-time All-State selection, 2-time High School All-American, and was a member of the 2000 US Junior National Team.
As a freshman at Texas, Michael was a member of the Big 12 All-Freshman Team and a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American, on the heels of a campaign that saw him post a .262/.375/.376 line. Aside from his freshman awards, Hollimon was also named 2nd Team All-Big 12. Michael's freshman success did not translate to further success with the Longhorns, but he was still drafted by the Minnesota Twins after his junior campaign. Hollimon transferred to Oral Roberts for his senior season, where he put together a banner year in the Mid Continent Conference, taking home the Conference Tournament MVP and the Mid Continent Player of the Year.
In his professional debut, Hollimon was one of the most dominating players in the New York-Penn League. After posting a .277/.389/.559 line that included 36 extra-base hits, and was named the TigsTown Oneonta Player of the Year. The success did not stop with his first taste of full-season ball, as Hollimon picked up right where he left off. Despite not taking home any monthly awards, he was named the TigsTown West Michigan Player of the Year. Hollimon's campaign put him on the map, particularly the fact that he ranked in the top ten in six essential offensive categories; first in triples (13), ninth in homeruns (15), second in walks (77), sixth in OBP, fifth in slugging, and third in OPS.
Hollimon again put together an outstanding season in 2007, despite skipping High-A Lakeland and advancing straight to Double-A Erie. As the starting second baseman for the Seawolves, he again scattered his name across league leader boards, ranking fourth in runs (91), seventh in doubles (34), ninth in RBI (76), and tenth in walks. With his success, Michael was promoted to Triple-A Toledo for a handful of games down the stretch, recording four hits (two for extra bases) in nineteen at-bats. In addition to all of that, Hollimon was sent to play in the Arizona Fall League, and later played for Team USA.
Hollimon started his 2008 season by putting on a nice show in spring training, before going down with a separated shoulder that he suffered going after a ball in the outfield. After returning, Hollimon totaled .211/.303/.420 line with Toledo, and also made his Major League debut where he hit .261 with two doubles, a triple, and a home run in 11 games for the Tigers.
At the plate, Hollimon has a smooth, clean stroke from both sides of the plate, and generates easy power to all fields from the left side. He is a much better overall hitter from the left side, but with additional work he could improve right-handed. He has a tremendous understanding of the strike zone, and is more than willing to take a walk. He struggles with good breaking balls, and must begin recognizing them better in order to cut down his strikeout totals.
In the field, Hollimon has average range and solid instincts at both shortstop and second base. He has the raw tools to be a plus defender at either position, but there is a greater likelihood that he sees such development at the keystone. His arm is above average, and his throws are consistently accurate, even while on the move. He took quickly to turning double-plays from second base, and quickly gained the trust of the coaching staff in Erie. Hollimon has demonstrated additional versatility, working out at both third base and the outfield for Team USA, and that versatility could help land him a lengthy MLB career. His speed is above-average, and he uses it well in the field.
Hollimon has the potential to contribute at the Major League level in any number of roles. With most positions in Detroit blocked, Hollimon may best profile as an offensive minded utility player, capable of filling in for extended stretches at multiple positions.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% AAA
The dislocated left shoulder from spring training proved to be more problematic as the season went along, and he ended up undergoing surgery after the season to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. The injury shouldn't impact him long term, though he could see some drop in his power to start the new season. There will likely be ongoing instability in the shoulder in the future, and he will have to work hard to strengthen the joint to avoid further damage and recurrence in coming seasons.
Hollimon entered camp with little restrictions in his play, and he should be ready for Opening Day. He recovered quickly from the off-season surgery, and though he likely won't make the Detroit roster out of the gates, he should be playing nearly every day at Toledo starting in April. Expect the Tigers to take advantage of his versatility this year in the minors, in order to make him a more valuable contributor in Detroit later in the year. He will be 27-years old during the season, and 2009 may be his one true shot with the Tigers to garner himself playing time in the future.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.