There have been quite a few rumblings this offseason about how the Detroit Tigers‘ farm system is in less-than-stellar shape. However, fans should rest assured that the Tigers still have quite a few good prospects down on the farm, and one of them is outfielder Daniel Fields who will be on display in Spring Training. Fields is the son of former Tigers outfielder and hitting coach Bruce Fields, and he is also a native of Detroit.
Fields, who is only 23-years-old, spent all of 2013 in Double-A Erie where he had a slash line of .284/.356/.435 with 10 home runs, 27 doubles, six triples, 24 stolen bases and 58 RBIs. The fact that he possesses the rare combination of speed and double-digit home run pop is going to make him a very interesting player to watch this spring.
Fields played 111 games in center field last season and did not play any other position on the field in 2013. He DH’d in the seven games he wasn’t in the field. Although Fields could conceivably be the center fielder of the future, the Tigers have Austin Jackson under team control through the 2015 season, so Fields may have to get used to playing a little more left field.
It should also be noted that Fields bats left-handed, and the Tigers could really use another left-handed bat at the moment. When the Tigers shipped Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers in November, it rendered switch-hitting Victor Martinez, Alex Avila and Andy Dirks the Tigers’ only three left-handed hitting starters. Martinez can be expected to have his usual season in which he hits .300 or better, but it remains to be seen what Dirks and Avila will give the team in 2014 as they both turned in underwhelming performances in 2013.
Therefore, some will naturally wonder if Fields could perhaps play his way into a spot on the Tigers’ squad this spring. However, as of right now, Fields is most likely still a little too raw for the major leagues. He still strikes out at a rather alarming rate as he fanned 130 times in 118 games last season, therefore averaging more than one strikeout per game. He will need to work on cutting down on the Ks, otherwise he will draw the inevitable comparison to a left-handed Jackson (Jackson averages 175 strikeouts per 162-game season.)
Although Fields does not have a great chance to make the Tigers’ squad right out of the gate, he can really make a strong statement and open quite a few eyes if he has a solid spring. If Fields does have a good spring, begins the season in Triple-A Toledo and continues to perform well, he will most likely be the first place the Tigers look to if Dirks and Avila continue to struggle and the team finds itself in desperate need of another left-handed hitter.
He will also give the Tigers a nice insurance policy in case one of their outfielders lands on the disabled list.