Detroit Tigers Top Prospect Countdown: #10 Dixon Machado

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Sep 6, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Dixon Machado (49) makes a throw to first after Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Martinez (1) dives in safely in the sixth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 6, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Dixon Machado (49) makes a throw to first after Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Martinez (1) dives in safely in the sixth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Like Devon Travis and Willy Adames before him, infielder Dixon Machado has some serious upside for the Detroit Tigers.

#20 Artie Lewicki             #19 Drew Smith                #18 Austin Kubitza             #17 Josh Turley                   #16 Montreal Robertson           #15 Jairo Labourt              #14 Steven Moya                   #13 Adam Ravenelle                #12 Wynton Bernard          #11 Paul Voelker

The Detroit Tigers have a history of developing productive middle infielders, and Dixon Machado is the latest.

Machado, 23-year-old infielder, made his Major League debut with the Tigers this season after signing as an amateur free agent in 2008. In his brief, 24-game cup of coffee in 2015, the rookie posted a 0.1 WAR. While that isn’t awful for such a short stint, the prospect has the potential to contribute even more so to Detroit in the future.

Stats So Far

In Machado’s first go-around with the Tigers, he hit .235 with a .307 on-base percentage and a .586 OPS. Additionally, the shortstop scored six runs, smacked three doubles and collected five RBI.

What’s more, the rookie showed solid plate discipline, striking out only 14 times while drawing seven walks.

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For his career in the minors, Machado is a .242 hitter with only 16 home runs since 2009. However, he stepped up his production at the Triple-A level in 2015 with a .261 batting average, 61 runs scored, 48 RBI, 22 doubles, 15 stolen bases and four home runs.

Skillset

Mainly a shortstop, a switch to second base isn’t out of the question due to the presence of Jose Iglesias—not to mention Machado’s exceptional defensive ability.

MLB.com wrote that the infielder has “plus hands and arm to go along with outstanding range.” Baseball Prospectus has similar praise, noting that “He gets rave reviews from scouts on his feel for defense, and his above-average speed and plus arm.”

Offensively, the Tigers are hoping the 23-year-old falls somewhere close to his 2015 Triple-A numbers in terms of production. Still, if Machado can hit .240-.250 with elite defense, some gap pop and double-digit steals, he’ll have significant value—just look at Alcides Escobar.

May 27, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Dixon Machado (49) hits his first major league hits against the Oakland Athletics] during the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
May 27, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Dixon Machado (49) hits his first major league hits against the Oakland Athletics] during the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Future Role

In terms of where he fits with the Tigers’ future, it is likely Dixon Machado will play either of the middle-infield positions. Ian Kinsler is 33 and won’t play forever, making second base a possibility. Machado’s defensive abilities should make a switch to second a non-issue. If that is the case, Detroit will have an excellent defensive double-play combination with Jose Iglesias and Machado.

Iglesias and Kinsler are one of the league’s best defensive duos up the middle, but Iglesias and Machado have the chance to be special.

Detroit could go that route, or move Iglesias to second and let the younger shortstop stay at the position. Either way, the future is bright for the Tigers middle infield.

For now, Machado will probably spend the bulk of the 2016 season at Triple-A Toledo as Andrew Romine and Mike Aviles seem likely to serve as Detroit’s utility players next season. If an injury or trade happens, the 23-year-old Machado will likely be the first player called up.

Next: Reason for Optimism with Mike Pelfrey

Despite the pile up of middle infielders on the Detroit Tigers roster this season, expect Dixon Machado to play a significant role on the team in 2017 and beyond.

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