Last month, Detroit Tigers outfield prospect Tyler Collins came to Spring Training as a dark horse to make the Tigers’ Opening Day roster, but many believed he was ultimately destined to begin the season with the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. However, with the injury to Andy Dirks, in addition to the fact that Collins is hitting a healthy .276 with extra-base power, that may not be the case.
It has been rumored that the Tigers have been scouring the trade market to find a veteran left-handed bat to platoon with Rajai Davis in left field such as Nate Schierholtz or former Tiger Matt Joyce. But now that Jose Iglesias is expected to miss most of the 2014 season, the Tigers need to turn their attention to shortstop, and it seems unlikely that the Tigers would be able to bring in a new shortstop and a new outfielder with just two weeks left until Opening Day.
If the Tigers can only choose one of these two holes to fill with a player from outside of the organization, they would be wise to pick shortstop.
Collins hit 21 home runs and drove in 79 runs for the double-A Erie SeaWolves in 2013, and he would certainly be able to help make up for some of the left-handed power the Tigers lost by parting ways with Prince Fielder last November. Collins may not have the big league experience that Joyce and Schierholtz do, but he could very easily be able to contribute more to the team.
Joyce batted just .235 to go along with his 18 home runs in 2013, and there is still a major concern that Schierholtz’s breakout 2013 season was merely a fluke.
The New York Yankees are also actively shopping Ichiro Suzuki, but it is hard to imagine why the Tigers would want a now 40-year-old outfielder who batted .235 against right-handed pitching in 2013 with very little power.
Although Collins had a terrific double-A campaign in 2013, there seemed to be more people talking about first baseman Jordan Lennerton and Detroit native Daniel Fields this past offseason. However, as Spring Training begins to wind down, Collins is still with the big league club and Lennerton and Fields are not.
Aside from Collins, the 22-year-old outfielder Steven Moya was also having a good spring, but the Tigers recently demoted him to double-A as well. The roster continues to grow slimmer, and Collins continues to survive the cuts.
The question, however, is whether or not he will still be sporting the Old English D two weeks from now when the Tigers host the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day. If Collins continues to perform well over the next week or so, he should certainly like his chances.