9 Detroit Tigers trapped in spring training limbo

Daz Cameron bats against the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Daz Cameron bats against the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers Trapped in Spring Training Limbo – Position Players

Detroit Tigers center fielder Derek Hill rounds the bases. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Tigers center fielder Derek Hill rounds the bases. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Daz Cameron

Daz Cameron technically isn’t a prospect anymore, having exhausted his rookie eligibility last season. But Cameron isn’t exactly a veteran, either, with just 174 MLB plate appearances over the past two seasons. Daz has shown flashes of his ability. He looked dynamic in spring training back in 2019, going 10-for-28 with four walks and seven extra-base hits. And last year he broke out that power and patience in actual games, with ten walks, five doubles, and four home runs, including a dramatic game-tying blast off one of baseball’s best closers.

But Cameron hasn’t made enough contact in his time in the big leagues. He batted .214 in Triple A in 2019, and he’s a career .194 hitter with a 32.8% strikeout rate in the big leagues. And he just hasn’t played enough in the past two seasons. The shortened season and a bout with COVID held Cameron to 17 games in 2020, and last year a fractured wrist and toe sprain held him to just over 300 plate appearances. Cameron is now 25, and he has Riley Greene breathing down his neck. Spring training may have been his last real chance to win a starting job with the Tigers.

Kody Clemens

Clemens has seen more game action over the past two years than most on this list, but he still has plenty to prove. Instead of heading to Detroit’s alternate site in 2020, Kody Clemens played for Team Texas in the independent Constellation Energy League. And though he did miss about three weeks of game action last year, Clemens managed to hit 18 home runs in 97 games for Triple-A Toledo.

The main issue for Clemens right now is finding a place for him to play. The Tigers liked him enough to add him to their 40-man roster in the offseason, but it doesn’t look like there will be a spot for him on the infield in Detroit this year. Clemens did play first base and the outfield last year, but his best bet to see extended action in the big leagues in 2022 would be to show enough power and patience in spring training to beat out some of Detroit’s more versatile utility infielders.

Derek Hill

Detroit’s first-round pick in 2014 finally saw regular playing time in the majors last year, and he showed some positive signs early. But Derek Hill’s old nemesis — the injured list — came for him again, with a sprained shoulder in June, a rib contusion following his collision with Akil Baddoo in August, and a season-ending knee sprain in September. The end result was a season in which Hill saw just over 300 plate appearances.

Like Cameron, Hill is running out of chances to prove he can be an MLB regular, though Hill’s speed and defensive potential give him a better shot to at least stick on the big-league roster. Still, Hill could have used a full spring training to demonstrate improved reads in the outfield and better performance at the dish, particularly against right-handed pitching. Instead, like all of us, he just has to wait until the owners come to their senses.

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