The Tigers suffered greatly from the right field position in 2012. It seemed like whoever they put out there couldn’t do the job offensively or defensively. A large part of that was put on the shoulders of Brennan Boesch, who struggled all season long, never getting into one of those famous hot streaks of his. While I am sure there are still believers in Boesch, the Tigers made it clear it was something they were looking to upgrade. They did so early in the off-season with the signing of veteran RF Torii Hunter. Hunter is what the doctor ordered on many levels for the Tigers, mainly defense and leadership, but even if he doesn’t perform at 2012 levels, Hunter should provide an upgrade in every way for the Tigers in 2013 at the position.
Sept. 23, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels right fielder Torii Hunter (48) makes the final out of the game on a running catch in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Angel Stadium. Angels won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Hunter, who will be with the Tigers through the end of the 2014 season, isn’t the only guy that can play RF for the Tigers. If something should happen to Hunter over the next two years, the Tigers are actually stocked at RF as good as any position I can think of off of the top of my head. The Tigers 2nd best prospect, Avisail Garcia, looks like the type of guy that could be a prototypical right fielder for the next 10 years or so. He does need some more seasoning, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets some big league time once again this season like he did last year.
Not only is the right field spot at the major league level taken care of, there is some minor league depth to the position as well. I have already mentioned Garcia, who is likely to start in Toledo, but there is two other promising bats in the system. In fact, both guys are making a lot of Tigers top 10 prospect lists, giving them three RF’s in that group.
Moya is a real tall and strong looking kid. Built like an oak tree, he is likely to get stronger and slow down a bit with age. However, Moya is a good enough athlete to remain in right field. The power potential is what is real intriguing. We are talking 30 plus homer a year type power in the mold of guys like Fred McGriff, only a bit more athletic. Moya did miss the second half of the season with Tommy John surgery, but should be able to start the year when April rolls around.
Vasquez is another projectable youngster who generates above average bat speed. Vasquez might not have the same power potential as Moya, and is just a solid athlete, but he has an advanced idea at the plate for such a young hitter. The Tigers think the power will come as well as an ability to hit for average. His arm is solid so he can probably stick in RF, but with the Tigers depth at the position, I wouldn’t be surprised to see LF in his future as well.
Yeah, this is a name that is pretty new to me, and I am going almost entirely off of stats at this point, but there is a good chance that Tovar is being brought stateside this year. Tovar is listed as playing CF, but the power/bat profile and numbers don’t look much like a CF to me. I hope to get more information on Tovar during the season, but the BB/K numbers are good, and his OPS was north of .800 in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2012. He will play the 2013 season at 19 years old.
This is one position on the Tigers that I don’t worry about beyond the next couple of years. The Tigers are clearly built to try and win in the next couple of years, and adding Torii Hunter to a weak spot on the team was a good move. However, this isn’t a position like our pitching, where there is a lack of depth ready to take over when contracts come up. It’s not like second base or shortstop where there isn’t a replacement ready to step in after the 2013 season. After Hunter departs, in should step Avisail Garcia for hopefully a long time. If something should happen to Garcia, the Tigers were playing Nick Castellanos out there as well. Then further down the line they have Moya and Vasquez.
The worries about the Tigers RF spot are pretty small both in the present and the future.