Do the Detroit Tigers have a new household name in the lineup?

With the Detroit Tigers having room for improvement, is it time for one of the youngsters to claim his spot in the lineup, or will he have to wait?
Justyn-Henry Malloy represents the Detroit Tigers organization at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Justyn-Henry Malloy represents the Detroit Tigers organization at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

It is no secret that the Detroit Tigers optioned former No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson to AAA Toledo on Monday. In a corresponding move, one of the organization's top prospects, Justyn-Henry Malloy was recalled to take Tork's roster spot. It is too early to say if this will be a permanent place for JHM, but the hope is that Torkelson will return soon with some adjustments being made in Toledo.

Malloy, a 24-year-old outfielder who stands at 6-foot-1, 212 pounds, was originally a sixth-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2021. In 2021, Malloy played in the Braves A-ball level where he hit .270 with five home runs over 37 games. In 2022, Malloy jumped from High-A to AAA, hitting .289 with 17 homers overall. In December of 2022, JHM was traded to the Detroit Tigers for reliever Joe Jimenez. Malloy then played 135 games in Toledo last year, slashing .277/.417/.474. That is a heck of a season. He also hit 23 home runs that year. The Tigers need power.

This leads one to wonder if this will translate to the MLB. The talent level discrepancy between Triple-A and the MLB is large right now. That has been shown by players like Colt Keith and Jackson Holliday, who came up and struggled early in their careers. Malloy has started his career 0-for-7 as well with no walks.

He may not get to stick around right away, but where could he play if he impresses?

The Detroit Tigers have plenty of versatility to move pieces around to accommodate Justyn-Henry Malloy, but it may not happen this year.

It is important to note that Malloy has played mostly corner outfield (142 games) in the minors, but has also spent a good amount of time at third base (142 games) early in his minor league career. With Kerry Carpenter on the IL, the Tigers have an opening in right field assuming Riley Greene and Wenceel Perez continue to man left field and center field respectively. Akil Baddoo has been playing in Carpenter's absence, but the Tigers aren't committed to that situation long-term. Carpenter has also played a good amount of DH this year, and overall, DH has been a rotational position for the team.

As for third base, Gio Urshela has been having a productive season there, so it could be challenging to push him out of his everyday spot. Urshela has made a couple of starts at first base as well, so there is room for movement there, especially if Mark Canha can DH as well. After this year, third base is wide open once again, leaving an opening there for Malloy if he can go back to third base after a couple of years primarily in the outfield.

This year, there would be some movement that would need to happen for Malloy to claim a spot. That is not to say it is impossible, but I feel with AJ Hinch having a strong commitment to his current players, he would have to be very impressive to stick around. Hypothetically, if Malloy were to impress, he could slot in the DH role, with Canha being at first, Urshela at third, and Carpenter taking right field back when he returns. With both Canha and Urshela in contract years, Malloy has a clear path for either an outfield spot or third base come 2025.