Mar 16, 2013; Jupiter, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Matt Tuiasosopo (68) hits a home run against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. The Tigers defeated the Cardinals 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Tuiasosopo Now Front Runner For Detroit Tigers Opening Day Roster

The Detroit Tigers’ opening day roster is taking shape with just one week to go before the start of the 2013 season.  Key transactions last week have narrowed down the available candidates for the final two roster spots.

The two remaining spots are for back-up outfielder and the 5th starter. For the part time outfield spot, Matt Tuiasosopo has  become the lead candidate to fill the role and head north with the team. He became the lead candidate when the Tigers sent down Nick Castellanos late last week and then returned Rule 5 Draftee Jeff Kobernus to the Washington Nationals.  Nick Castellanos was considered by many to be a long shot to make the team.  Jeff Kobernus was drafted to become the Tigers speedy utility player off the bench, a role probably assigned to Quintin Berry now that Kobernus is gone.  Avisail Garcia injured his knee which cut into his at-bats hampering his chances of making the opening day roster.

So that leaves Matt Tuiasosopo and journeyman Don Kelly. Although Don Kelly has had a great spring, Matt Tuiasosopo has been been more impressive batting .333 with 4 home runs and 10 ribbies.  Tuiasosopo is also slugging at a much higher rate,  .733 compared to Don Kelly’s .561.

The Hawaiian Hammer (you heard it here first) certainly has pop in his bat but he does strike out quite a bit.  His strikeout to walk ratio leaves a lot to be desired (14 K to 6 BB) but the hard hitting right-hander might be the power bat off the bench the Detroit Tigers have been missing in years past. In addition his ability to play the corner infield spots will provide the Tigers more depth.

The Detroit Tigers could trade for a back-up corner outfielder but with all the solid options they have available they should save their resources and fill that role with an internal candidate.  Although it was this writers opinion that extra outfielder should be Nick Castellanos, the logic behind sending him down to the minors is sound. There he can improve his glove work and base running IQ. However Nick Castellanos is the reason the Tigers should not pursue a outfielder from outside the organization.  If Castellanos can continue his development, he may be busting into the big clubs line-up by the All-Star break. Until then the Tigers should fill out the roster with their current players and only consider trading one of their outfield prospects if they have a huge need at the trade deadline.

Tags: Detroit Tigers Matt Tuiasosopo MLB Spring Training

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