‘NWL Alumni in Spring Training’ – Tigers

The Detroit Tigers were the talk of the American League Central during last year’s Spring Training thanks to various off-season acquisitions.  The Tigers traded the face of the NWL, Curtis Granderson, and pitcher Edwin Jackson for Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, and Phil Coke, but also lost Placido Palanco and Fernando Rodney in free agency.  The Tigers eventually limped to a .500 record (81-81) in 2010 due to various injuries to team leaders Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge, and Miguel Cabrera.

The Tigers are stacked with former NWL alumni in 2011 and all intend to get the Tigers back on top of the American League Central.  Max Scherzer, Danny Worth, and Robbie Weinhardt all saw playing time in 2010 with the Tigers and expect their 2011 roles to increase. 

Max Scherzer played for the La Crosse Loggers in the summer of 2004 and is one of the highest NWL draft picks in league history.  Scherzer was drafted in the 1st round (11th) pick of the Major League Draft in 2006 after a successful career at the University of Missouri.  The 6’3’’ righty has a career 21-26 Major League record in 422.0 innings pitched.  Scherzer had his best MLB season in 2010 as he finished the season with a 3.50 ERA in 195.2 innings of work.  Scherzer is currently listed as the Tigers #2 pitcher behind All-Star Justin Verlander. 

Former Alexandria Beetle, Danny Worth, made his MLB debut in 2010 with the Tigers and ended the season with 39 games played and a .255 batting average.  The former Pepperdine product had a productive spring in Lakeland, FL in 2011.  Worth hit .333 with seven RBI’s and seven extra-base hits for Detroit.  Worth will most likely start the season in Triple-A, but is expected to contribute at the Major League level in 2011. 

Robbie Weinhardt pitched for the St. Cloud River Bats in 2007 and was drafted in 2008 by the Detroit Tigers in the 10th round.  The right handed pitcher made his Major League debut on July 7th, 2010 and finished with a 2-2 record in 28 appearances.  Weinhardt finished Spring Training with a 1-0 record in 9.2 innings pitched with a 2.79 earned run average.  Weinhardt will start the season in Triple-A, but is expected to be a mid-season call up as a situational right handed pitcher. 

Other former NWL alumni to watch for the Tigers:

Rob Brantly – The 2009 NWL ‘Top Prospect’ spent the 2010 season with the Western Michigan Whitecaps (Single-A) of the Midwest League.  The former 3rd round pick of the Tigers finished 2010 with a .255 batting average with 10 doubles and a .995 fielding percentage. 

Bryan Holaday – The 2010 ‘Johnny Bench’ winner played in Brainerd in 2008 and was taken in the 6th round of the 2010 MLB Draft.  Holaday played for the Lakeland Flying Tigers (Single-A Advanced) of the Florida State League in 2010 and played in 44 games.
Andy Dirks – Dirks, a 2006 and 2007 NWL All-Star with Brainerd, played with the Erie SeaWolves (Double-A) and Toledo Mud Hens (Triple-A) in 2010. The 6’0’’ lefty showed athleticism this past season by hitting for power and average while also stealing bases and playing great defense. Dirks hit .296 while playing in Erie and Toledo with 15 home runs and 22 steals.

Corey Jones – The 2009 NWL Most Valuable Player had a fantastic 2010 at the Minor League level.  The former 7th round pick hit .360 with 19 doubles for the West Michigan Whitecaps (Single-A) of the Midwest League. 

Be sure to watch the former NWL alumni playing with the Detroit Tigers this season.