Isaac Paredes of the Detroit Tigers “competing” for 2022


The Detroit The Tigers were on their last two strikeouts late in the ninth inning. The runners stood on first and second as rookie fielder Isaac Paredes went to plate for the 62nd time this season and the 170th time in his MLB career.

He shot a 1-2 slider from Kansas City Royals reliever Scott Barlow into the left corner of the field. The ball bounced in fair territory before crossing the wall. Paredes was credited with a one-point brace, but the Tigers – more aggressive than ever on the bases – should have scored two points.

The Tigers ended up losing 2-1 to the Royals on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.

“We saw more pulling power from him, more aggressive swings on the pull side,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said on Monday. “I think the teams pounded him at the start of the year, and he kept trying to fight the ball in the middle of the field and in the middle of the field on the right. Now he shoots the ball with some authority. “

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With six games to go, Paredes is hitting .222 with a homerun, five RBIs, 10 walks and seven strikeouts in 19 games this season.

He made his MLB debut and appeared in 34 games last year, which earned him a career 0.221 batting average, two homers, 11 RBIs, 18 walks and 31 strikeouts in 53 games. . The Tigers acquired Paredes (along with Jeimer Candelario) in the same 2017 trade with the Chicago Cubs, bringing in reliever Justin Wilson and wide receiver Alex Avila in hopes of spurring reconstruction.

“It was a very difficult situation,” Paredes said on Sunday. “Remember I came back from an injury. My health comes first, so I can come back, be ready for spring training and give 100%. But yes, I have to prepare to be ready for it. ‘spring training. “

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The 22-year-old is best known for his knowledge of the strike zone, but the Tigers have also asked him to keep an aggressive approach in mind. They want him to shoot the ball towards left field, rather than relying solely on walks and punches in the middle and opposite field.

“If you’re a strike zone judgment guy you can get a little passive,” Hinch said. “If you’re a singles hitter you can fall into the trap of chasing hits. If you’re a powerful guy you start looking for power all the time. It’s an evolutionary process to get these guys to. understand who they are and who they can be. Isaac doesn’t even know who he is at the major league level yet, and neither do we. I think we just need to keep pushing him to be a more complete hitter. “

Paredes added: “It’s something I have to do better, be more aggressive, have a good hitting zone and be aggressive on the first few pitches of each bat. Finding that old Isaac is one of the things. that coaches have told me so far. “

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Most of Paredes’ year has been spent at Toledo Triple-A, where he recorded a .265 batting average, 11 home runs, 42 RBIs, 56 walks and 47 strikeouts in 72 games. He was put on the injured list from July 22 to August 18 with an injury to his right hip.

At the moment, Paredes is not playing in full health.

But he needs to be at bat, so what choice does he have?

“Watching him endure a bit, that was fun,” Hinch said. “He’s putting himself together nicely by responding to the fact that he hasn’t had a lot of opportunities in the middle of this year, but he knows he’s here to take a look.”

Look ahead

The Tigers enter the offseason with three starting infielders for most of the 2022 season: Spencer Torkelson on first base, Jonathan Schoop on second and Candelario on third. (Expect Schoop to play on first base until Torkelson arrives.) The shortstop position could become clear – possibly All-Star Carlos Correa – with free agent ” high impact ”suggested by owner Christopher Ilitch.

This leaves Paredes, Willi Castro, Harold Castro, and Zack Short competing for backup jobs as versatile infielders, also known as utility players. Those roles will be pretty important, especially if the Tigers are serious about aiming for the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“He’s going to be in a competition,” Hinch said of Paredes. “He answered well.

Tigers second baseman Isaac Paredes, right, spins the ball for a double play after releasing a force on White Sox wide receiver Yasmani Grandal in the third inning on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, at Comerica Park.

Paredes seems to be on the right track, although he hasn’t had enough chances this season. Willi Castro, for example, struggles offensively with his .211 batting average and defensively with his poor shots at second base and shortstop. He played 122 MLB games in 2021.

Hinch used Paredes at second base (seven starts), third base (six starts) and shortstop (four starts) due to his ability to accomplish the basics of defense, which the manager might not. also be certain with Willi Castro.

“His moves around the bases,” Hinch said of Paredes, “he has some of the best actions our team has among any infielder.”

Whatever happens next, that will only be decided at the end of the aforementioned competition, in the final days of spring training in March 2022. After all, there is still a lot to be learned about the players of infield as they prepare to compete for a spot in the opening day roster.

“This year has been a bit more difficult,” said Paredes. “I haven’t had a lot of activity, but I’m grateful. I’m grateful because every year you learn new things to help you grow and discover the sport. I’m grateful to be here.”

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Learn more about the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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