For most of the 2011 campaign, the Toledo Mud Hens, Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate, have trotted out a lineup that features Cale Iorg at shortstop and Argenis Diaz playing third base or coming off the bench. That trend has reached its end, however, with word coming in from John Wagner of the Toledo Blade, who has the “Coop-Scoop” on Diaz supplanting the now former “shortstop of the future” for the Tigers.
"I asked Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin and Tigers interim director of player development Kevin Bradshaw directly about that Sunday night and got an interesting answer.In short, the answer was this: Argenis Diaz will begin playing shortstop every day for the Mud Hens, and Cale Iorg will become more of a utility player.”I’m playing the best nine guys right now,” Nevin said. “Argenis is going to get the majority of starts at shortstop for a while, and I think he has earned that.”"
Wagner went on to outline how we’ve gotten to this point with Iorg, who was added to the 40-man roster this past off-season in order to protect him from the Rule V draft. Iorg, who has always had a tremendous defensive reputation, has befuddled scouts during his professional career with an ever-present inability to make enough contact.
Coming into this season, Iorg had fanned in over 28 percent of his 1500+ minor league plate appearances. This year his strikeout rate has been a bit more palatable at just over 23 percent, but his overall numbers have also declined. In addition to his lower than expected slash line of .210/.256/.323/.579, he has committed an International League worst 18 errors at shortstop. For what it’s worth, Iorg has been hampered by a BABiP this year of just .256, by far the worst of his minor league career.
Diaz is two years younger and while he doesn’t have anywhere near the pop in his bat that Iorg has, he doesn’t often strikeout, either. Diaz profiles as a similar hitter to Will Rhymes; a guy who has good contact skills and decent speed, but not enough extra-base pop to become an everyday major league player.
What this move tells us is something we probably already knew; Iorg is not the Tigers shortstop-in-waiting. It probably isn’t Diaz either, though. With Jhonny Peralta signed through next season and appearing to have a good grip on the position, the club won’t be in a rush to push him out the door. Iorg’s lack of development that has lead to his losing the starting job with the Hens just means that there likely won’t be anyone in the minors pushing Peralta out of the way anytime soon.