No, the AFL I'm refering to isn't the spectacular Arena Football League that is currently on hiatus. It is the popular Arizona Fall League, where MLB teams send some of thier top prospects for more conditioning. One prospect the Detroit Tigers are keeping a close eye on is second baseban Scott Sizemore. Playing for the Peoria Javelinas, Sizemore has knocked in nine runs in only 15 at bats. Monday he went 3-4 and drove in four runs. The previous two games he hit three home runs. Sizemore is batting an impressive .375
"It's been awesome," Sizemore said of playing in Arizona. "Luckily I've kinda been getting the taste of it all. I take it the same way I went this season, take every at bat like it's my last."
This season splitting time between the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens and the Double-A Erie Seawolves, he hit a combined .308 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI's. He also represented the Tigers at this years All-Star Futures game where he had a hit and run scored as a late-inning replacement at DH. Sizemore accomplished all of this while battling a sore left wrist after surgery in 2008.
The reason that the Tigers, specifically GM Dave Dombrowski, is so interested in Sizemore's progress is simple: second baseman Placido Palonco is a free agent. If Detroit fails to re-sign Palanco, they'll be losing one of the most reliable second baseman in the league. He rarely makes errors, rarely strikes out, and is one of the very few pure hitters in the Tigers line-up. I do give Dombrowski credit for pulling off the trade in 2005 to bring Palanco to Detroit for a pitcher who is currently doing time. Unfortunately, some not-so-spectacular deals and generous contract extentions have painted the Tigers into a financial corner. Too much money is tied up on players like Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson. Team owner Mike Illitch will have to dig deep into his pockets in order to re-sign Placido for next season.
Even if Palonco does return in 2010, it seems that Sizemore is the Tigers second baseman of the future.
"We think he's ready to play, " stated Dombrowski.
For the Tigers sake, and yours, Dave, I hope you're right.
Photos courtesy of TigsTown