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2021 Detroit Tigers: The Curious Case of Akil Baddoo

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Each year MLB Spring Training brings surprises, and the 2021 Detroit Tigers camp is no different. Whether it be injuries, new acquisitions, or breakout player development, something always occurs that gets the fans excited. With a stable of outfielders returning, none of which seem to have leaps and bounds of statistical prowess over the others, a new name has emerged in the form of Rule 5 Draft Pick, Akil Baddoo.

Sporting a .344 batting average at this point in 2021 Spring Training and showing some nice pop in his bat with 4 home runs, Baddoo projects to make the Opening Day roster for the Tigers and could even take the place of someone such as Victor Reyes who has been a somewhat promising prospect in the last couple years for Detroit.

Still too early to tell if the left-hander will be a table-setter for the Tigers or if he will more than likely platoon with the likes of Jacoby Jones, and new additions Robbie Grossman and Nomar Mazara when he does have an MLB presence. One thing is certain though, his MLB debut could be coming sooner rather than later.

Fans of the 2021 Detroit Tigers could have a new hometown favorite on their hands as they have seen with other outfield prospects in the past such as Austin Jackson and Curtis Granderson. Here is also hoping that Baddoo doesn’t fizzle out like past prospects such as Steven Moya, and most recently, Christin Stewart have.

2021 Detroit Tigers: Akil Baddoo, Where Did This Kid Come From?

Like many before him, Akil Baddoo went straight from High School into the professional ranks. Drafted in the 2nd Round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins, Baddoo would go on to start the minor league journey and show lots of potential with his glove and athleticism. 

Like many young hitters, however, Baddoo would be bitten early by the strikeout bug, recording 36 strikeouts over 38 games in 2016 rookie ball while posting a .178 batting average. The 2017 campaign in rookie ball would show Baddoo’s true potential shine through as he got on base at over a .430 clip between two teams, as well as driving in 29 runs over his 53 games played. 

Then came the first full season of A-ball for the young lefty, and the strikeout woes would continue. Over 113 games with Cedar Rapids (Twins Single-A) Baddoo would strike out a whopping 124 times, while hitting a lackluster .243, but would salvage his struggles with a respectable .351 on-base, and 24 stolen bases.

The following year he would only play 29 games with Fort Myers before he would have season-ending Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm. As they say, sunshine always comes after the rain, and Baddoo has recovered nicely. So far, he seems to have found himself a home, with the 2021 Detroit Tigers after being selected by the organization with the 3rd pick of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.

2021 Detroit Tigers: Akil Baddoo, What to expect from him?

As he has already displayed in the Twins organization as well as this year for the 2021 Detroit Tigers, Baddoo is a very athletic specimen. With left-handed power bats being a premium in the MLB someone like Baddoo is a very welcome addition to a Detroit Tigers lineup that lacks punch from the left-side.

As fans know, Comerica Park is quite a formidable field for hitters to hit home runs out at a high rate due to its mammoth depths in the gaps and to straightaway center field. This could bode well for the speed of Baddoo as it has for Tigers before him. If Baddoo can manage to hit better than .250 this season for the 2021 Detroit Tigers, I think 15-20 doubles, a handful of triples, 15-20 home runs, and 20 stolen bases would be a very welcome high-water mark for him. Realistically, he will have his struggles with major league pitching even if he comes out hot early on and struggles later, but it most likely will happen. 

Many Detroit Tigers hitters such as fellow Georgia native, Niko Goodrum, have shown those glimpses of athleticism and power over the last couple years but always seem to struggle with the swing and miss frequency. With new manager A.J. Hinch leading the charge, perhaps the 2021 Detroit Tigers offense will see some improvements this season as Hinch (despite much controversy) has coached some explosive offensive lineups in the past.

Veteran Miguel Cabrera came into 2021 Spring Training looking more fit than he has in years and despite his very pedestrian Spring Training hitting numbers, “Miggy will be Miggy” when the season begins, so hopefully, Baddoo can provide some punch either at the top or bottom of the order to get the table set. All things considered, there is not much more exciting than an emerging prospect in spring, and Baddoo is all that and then some for this 2021 Detroit Tigers organization.

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