Outlook: It should be a great summer of baseball in Norwich as Dodd Stadium welcomes back the Tigers for their fourth season. They will also play host to the New York-Penn League All Star Game on August 13th.
That’s enough cause for excitement right there, but look at the roster and there is plenty more to get the baseball juices flowing.
Starting with top-five Tigers prospect Austin Schotts who, at 19-years-old, comes in as a bit of a seasoned vet at this point, despite only being drafted a year ago.
The outfielder was a former safety in high school and is a burner on the base paths having already stolen 24 bases in his young career.
The recent draft provided the Tigers with a solid portion of their roster, with first rounder Jonathon Crawford the top name on that list.
The righty out of Florida was ranked as the ninth best pitcher by Baseball America prior to the draft and Detroit was happy to snag him with the 20th overall pick.
Detroit drafted six consecutive college pitchers to start their 2013 draft, so there may be others to follow, but the next one in-house after Crawford is 5th rounder Buck Farmer, a right-hander out of Georgia Tech who MLB.com says is “a strong, durable workhorse type…will mix four Major League average or better pitches.”
Other draft names of note with Connecticut include outfielder Ben Verlander, Jason’s younger brother, and third baseman Dominic Ficociello, a switch hitter taken in the 12th round.
Thoughts: The ballpark has been upgraded with two new bars, a Philly’s Cheesesteak stand and a couple of huge Adirondack chairs.
Tie in the extravaganza that will surround the All Star Game, showcasing the region, the team and the stadium, and Norwich, Connecticut may be the most exciting place to be in the New England, on a baseball level, over the next couple of months.
Keeping in mind that the pitchers who have just been drafted will only throw limited innings, guys like Crawford will be worth checking out whenever they get out there and Schotts provides the Tigers with a top-level prospect to spotlight.
Player to watch: Schotts – Coming into the season the 19-year-old outfielder was ranked as the fifth best Tigers prospect by Baseball America and tenth by MLB.com.
Drafted in the 3rd round (No. 121 overall) in 2012 out of Centennial High School in Frisco, Texas, Schotts already has 101 games as a pro under his belt.
Fast and athletic, he has a smooth stroke at the plate that generates some solid power for someone his size (5-foot-10, 164-pounds).
But it is his speed both on the base paths and in the field that will get him moving up the charts.
As it stands now, he’s coming down a bit after playing 59 games with Low Class-A Western Michigan this season where he batted .192 with one home run, 17 RBIs.
He did steal nine bases with the Whitecaps, but was thrown out five times. In 42 games between the Gulf Coast and Lakeland last season he had 16 steals and was only caught twice.
He will look to regain his form at the plate while with the Connecticut Tigers while boosting his success rate on the paths, and I would expect him to do just that, making him a must-see player this summer.
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