Detroit Tigers: Justyn-Henry Malloy may force the issue on his call-up
Justyn-Henry Malloy may force the Detroit Tigers' hand
The Detroit Tigers acquired Justyn-Henry Malloy from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for RHP Joe Jimenez in a trade this past offseason. Malloy was seen as a good-looking prospect with and elite eye at the plate and a good all-around bat. The question was his defense, but as he kept hitting, he should see time at the big league level in 2023. Well, he's hitting...and hitting...and hitting.
Malloy is off to a scorching start in Triple-A Toledo, and that might be an understatement. He's slashing .379/.544/.534 in 79 plate appearances. That's right, his on-base percentage is higher than his slugging percentage. That's incredibly rare.
His walk rate is an absurd 24.1% compared to a 17.7% strikeout rate. 24.1%! That's insane! He's walking in basically a quarter of his plate appearances. Not even Juan Soto boasts that kind of plate discipline.
It's just a 17-game sample size, but this is an incredible start for Malloy. The defense is still a work in progress, but it's pretty clear at this point that the bat will play.
After the trade, Scott Harris said that Malloy was "dictating his own development," and he isn't wrong about that. He played across three levels in the Braves' system last year. The question is when will the Tigers see enough of Malloy in Toledo to give him the call to the major leagues?
If he's truly dictating his own development, he'll get the call by Memorial Day should he keeps this up. He's not on the 40-man roster, but the Tigers have plenty of players they can remove to give him a spot. Jonathan Schoop and Zach McKinstry immediately come to mind, though McKinstry has been swinging a good bat as of late.
The Detroit Tigers really need offense, and it likely won't come from outside of the organization. They're going to have to call up some kids, and Malloy is the best of the bunch. At this point, it's not a matter of if he gets called up, it's when.