Detroit Tigers 1B Tony Clark
After overcoming injuries and a basketball career, Tigers fans finally saw the debut of Tony Clark on September 3rd, 1995 at Tiger Stadium against Cleveland. This was the final season for Sparky Anderson so Clark represented in a way, the new guard for the upcoming changes to come in the organization just a few months later with new GM Randy Smith and a new manager at the helm with Buddy Bell.
Clark had a decent start to his career in terms of extra-base power, hitting three home runs with five doubles and putting up a slash line of .238/.294/.396 with an OPS of .690 (12-for-101).
1st baseman Mike Laga
It was a strange year for the Triple-A Evansville Triplets. Centerfielder Glenn Wilson and 3rd baseman Howard Johnson would get called up after Opening Night, which is good for your best prospects should get an opportunity but as how high Sparky was on HoJo, he was sent back down after 12 games in May before getting called up in August.
Left-handed pitcher Bruce Robbins, who spent two seasons with the Tigers in 1979 and 1980, retired in June suddenly. The Tigers and Evansville kept to themselves until it was reported on June 16.
Now, onto Laga. He would set a club record for most home runs in a season for Evansville, hitting 34. That was his second season in a row in which he had 30 or more home runs after hitting 31 in Double-A Birmingham in 1981.
He would debut on September 1st and in 27 games, hit .261 with three home runs and an OPS of .759. He was predicted to be the future left-handed cleanup hitter. But the former first-round draft pick (17th overall) in 1980, could never put any type of consistency and was later traded along with Ken Hill to the St. Louis Cardinals for Mike Heath on September 2nd, 1986. He and this next player had something in common.
Outfielder Nelson Simmons
Now in the cliff notes of Detroit Tigers history, Nelson Simmons was another prospect that represented the future. At 21 years old after hitting 22 home runs in Evansville, the sky was the limit.
He made his debut on September 4, 1984, and would not play again until September 19 when at that point, the Tigers pretty much had the division wrapped up. He and Laga were part of the Tigers “B” lineups that allowed Sparky Anderson to rest his regulars in the final weeks of the season. That night against the Brewers, he had three hits and would finish hitting .433 in nine games of action (13-for-30).
Despite a strong spring in 1986, the Tigers released the outfielder as Sparky Anderson was quoted as saying he had become muscle-bound and was no longer was able to get to high pitches. But there was more to than just his performance. He was cut for an incident that happened in a Nashville hotel.