The Detroit Tigers have made plenty of minor league signings during this lockout. Most will serve as depth and roster fillers, but none more intriguing than the six-year minor league veteran slugger Josh Lester. Lester was drafted out of the University of Missouri in the 13th round of the 2015 MLB Draft.
Nowadays, Lester is 27 years old and has yet to spend meaningful time at the Detroit Tigers AAA level with the Mud Hens. That being said, he has raked at every single level up to this point in his career. With a minor league slash line of .253/.319/.445 and 90 homers in his time bouncing between levels, he has always shown improvement at every point.
In general, he is a bat-first corner infielder/outfielder that does not have much of an eye (7% BB rate in 2021 vs. 32% (AA) K rate in 2021) but with extreme raw power (.336 AA ISO in 2021, 32 HRs in 2021 across AA and AAA).
He’s been an under-the-radar prospect for the past four years or so since his 2018 breakout season in Erie. However, I think there is something to be said for his minor league performance.
The Detroit Tigers should give Josh Lester an MLB tryout.
Lester has yet to see the MLB in even a Spring Training tryout. The Tigers have yet to bring in a solid option in the form of a bench bat this offseason. There has been an evident lack of power in the lineup for the past couple of seasons. Of course, Javier Baez should help with the power outage, but such limited raw power in the lineup should be addressed.
Now, I very well understand the major power-first players that have busted out at the Tigers level over the past couple of years. Steven Moya and Christin Stewart had both shown that minor league mashing does not equal major league success. However, the difference between those two and Lester is relative expectations.
I’m not saying Lester should be an Opening Day starter. Heck, I’m not even saying he should start. However, after six strong years in the minors with the performance he has put up, he should at least sniff out a role as a bench bat.
Would he change the world? Probably not. But Lester could be a solid bench player to hold down the fort until we see Spencer Torkelson or Riley Greene. I mean, I would rather watch him hitting than either Zack Short or Derek Hill.