Detroit Tigers: Competition brewing for utility infielder role

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 20: Pete Kozma
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 20: Pete Kozma /
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BOSTON, MA – MAY 25: Pete Kozma
BOSTON, MA – MAY 25: Pete Kozma /

Pete Kozma

Pete Kozma will enter his 11th professional season in 2018. If he wins a spot on the 25-man roster out of camp, it will be his seventh big league season.

Kozma was originially drafted by the Cardinals in 2007. He puttered around in the minors until getting brief cups of coffee with the big club in 2011 and 2012.

He finally got a chance to be a big league regular in 2013, when he started 113 games for the Cardinals at shortstop.

Kozma did not impress with the bat, hitting .217/.275/.273 with one home run and three stolen bases. He played sparingly the next two seasons before splitting 2017 between the Rangers and the Yankees.

For the year, Kozma hit .111 in 45 at-bats, with one home run off Detroit starter Matt Boyd.

Despite his shortcomings with the stick, Kozma has experience all around the diamond and is  considered a good defensive shortstop, something the Tigers are lacking behind Jose Iglesias. His experience at shortstop gives him a tremendous leg up on the rest of his competition.

Additionally, forcing a rookie right into a utility role can stunt their development. It makes more sense for the Tigers to have an established utility infielder on their roster, even if he has very little upside. Having a veteran presence is always good on a team full of young, inexperienced players as well.

Those factors appear to give Kozma the upper hand on the job, but that does not mean it will be handed to him. There are three minor leaguers who could challenge him for the role.

The first is a 25-year-old former Indians farmhand who posted a 15-15 season at Triple-A last year.