Detroit Tigers: Mikie Mahtook’s no good very bad spring

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DETROIT, MI - JULY 29: Center fielder Mikie Mahtook #15 of the Detroit Tigers can't get to a hit by Marwin Gonzalez #9 of the Houston Astros for a double during the first inning at Comerica Park on July 29, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Astros 5-3. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JULY 29: Center fielder Mikie Mahtook #15 of the Detroit Tigers can't get to a hit by Marwin Gonzalez #9 of the Houston Astros for a double during the first inning at Comerica Park on July 29, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Astros 5-3. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers
DETROIT, MI – APRIL 8: JaCoby Jones #40 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates a double during the fifth inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox on April 8, 2017 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

JaCoby Jones

If Mahtook cannot regain his magic from 2017, the Tigers would most likely turn to JaCoby Jones in left field. While Jones’ glove is more suited for center, the Tigers will likely keep veteran Leonys Martin out there and let Jones roam left.

Jones is no stranger to strikeout issues, having whiffed in 42.2% of his at-bats last year with the Tigers. While he likely needs more time in Triple-A, he would very likely step into a starting role if Mahtook were not performing.

The Detroit Tigers have recently worked Jones out in the infield in an attempt to make him more versatile. They could be grooming him for a super utility role, similar to the Andrew Romine held the last few years. Jones has never played left field in the major leagues, although he’s started 11 games there at Triple-A Toledo in the last two seasons.

He is the most likely candidate to start in left field without Mahtook, but he is not the only one.

Victor Reyes

The Detroit Tigers used the first overall selection in November’s Rule 5 draft to select Victor Reyes from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 23-year-old has never played above Double-A. He spent all of 2017 at that level, hitting .292 with 18 stolen bases and a 110 wRC+.

Reyes has more experience in left field than Jones, although he has played more right field and center field than he has left. Reyes will need to make the 25-man roster or else be offered back to the Diamondbacks, so his path to regular playing time is more clear than Jones’. However, Reyes has no MLB experience and does not appear ready for a starting job in the major leagues. Reyes is only hitting .190 with 10 strikeouts in 42 at-bats this spring, and has looked overmatched for most of the spring.

Expect Reyes to remain in a reserve role this season, unless injuries or ineffectiveness overtake multiple Tigers starters.

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