Detroit Tigers News

Detroit Tigers: Prospect Zach Shepherd is Destroying Baseballs in the Minors

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Apr 21, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A detailed view of a Detroit Tigers hat sitting on top of a glove in the dugout before a game between the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 21, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A detailed view of a Detroit Tigers hat sitting on top of a glove in the dugout before a game between the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers prospect Zach Shepherd is off to a strong start for Advanced-A Lakeland. Moving forward, this is a good sign for the Tigers organization.

Detroit Tigers fans haven’t seen many prospects develop in the past.

Under previous general manager Dave Dombrowski, the team tended to trade its brightest young players for upgrades at the Major League level.

While this obviously worked in trades for the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Doug Fister, there were plenty of instances where the Tigers dealt a prospect or young player who would go on to show significant promise.

Corey Knebel, dealt to Texas in the Joakim Soria deal, owns a 1.97 FIP and 12.4 strikeouts per nine inning for Milwaukee this season.

Eugenio Suarez moved to Cincinnati in the ill-fated Alfredo Simon deal. Since joining the Reds, the 25-year-old shortstop and third baseman has mashed 39 home runs in 279 games.

This season, he owns a blistering 1.025 OPS as well as a 167 wRC+ and a .280 ISO in 23 games.

Meanwhile, David Paulino, sent to the Astros for Jose Veras has developed into one of the game’s more promising prospects.

However, things have changed under Al Avila.

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The general manager has kept Detroit’s young pieces in the organization, and it looks to be paying off. JaCoby Jones and Joe Jimenez have both received extended looks this season, joining to a young core that also includes Michael Fulmer, Nicholas Castellanos, James McCann, Tyler Collins, Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd.

One prospect to keep an eye on who could potentially join that group in the future is Zach Shepherd.

A 21-year-old third baseman out of Sydney, Australia, Shepherd began his minor league career with Detroit’s Single-A affiliate in 2015.

In 114 games, the infielder hit just .245 with a .667 OPS, 51 RBI, 17 doubles, five home runs and two triples.

He rebounded somewhat in 2016 with Advanced-A Lakeland, flashing the power that could eventually help him reach the Majors.

In 121 contests for the Flying Tigers, Shepherd mashed 15 home runs and 20 doubles to go along with an even 50 RBI despite batting just .186.

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Flash forward to this season, and Shepherd is still playing in Lakeland.

However, this time around, he’s thriving.

In 23 games to start the year, the third baseman is hitting .310 with a .957 OPS. His .560 slugging percentage is on pace to be a career-high.

What’s more, Shepherd has already launched six long balls to go along with 21 RBI, 17 runs scored, 11 walks and three doubles.

Potential Future Role with the Detroit Tigers

It’s obviously early, but Shepherd has a chance to move up the ladder long-term if he can continue to produce.

Down the line, he could eventually replace Nicholas Castellanos at third base.

What’s more, there could be a potential fit at first base as well.

Shepherd has never played the position professionally, but Detroit doesn’t exactly have an eventual successor for Miguel Cabrera.

Next: Grading Al Avila’s Offseason Moves So Far

This is all speculative of course, but if Shepherd keeps producing in the power department throughout the minors, he’ll find his way onto the field for the Detroit Tigers.

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