You don’t have to be a phenom in his early 20′s, a top prospect, or even much of a prospect at all to carve yourself a role on a big league roster. In fact, the end of 25 man rosters are full of guys who weren’t big names, and never will be, but they can play an integral part in the success of a team. We will be featuring some such players who may earn themselves a job this spring., or at least make enough of an impression they get a call up during the season. In order to qualify for this, a guy must not have made our team specific top 15 lists and could not have played more than 10 games in the big leagues.
The first player that came to mind for this embodies exactly what this series will be about, Jordan Lennerton. Lennerton just turned 28 and has spent the past six seasons in the minor leagues. The Detroit Tigers first baseman is on the 40-man roster, but is not on the team’s depth chart which, not surprisingly, only lists a guy by the name of Miguel Cabrera.
Lennerton was drafted in the 50th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004 out of a British Columbia high school, but did not sign, instead he attended El Paso Community College in Texas. He was drafted again in 2005, this time in the 41st round by the Milwaukee Brewers, but again did not sign. Finally, after transferring to Oregon State, where he key part of the 2007 College World Series championship squad, he was drafted in the 33rd round of the 2008 draft by the Tigers, and this time he signed.
Lennerton has a career minor league slash line of .277/.379/.438, and even hit 21 home runs in Double-A in 2012, but has yet to get a sniff of the big leagues. He did, however, get the chance to don the Canadian flag patch on his sleeve as part of the World team in last summers MLB Futures Game, but Prince Fielder blocked his path to big leagues, resulting in no September call-up for Lennerton.
Now that he is going into his age 28 season, he cannot be considered a prospect anymore, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be productive. In Puerto Rico this winter, he hit .340, while putting up an incredible OPS of .953. He has a smooth left-handed swing, has proven he can put up a solid average, and has a knack for getting on base at every level, he just hasn’t had the chance to prove it at the highest level.
The first base position is pretty well set with Miggy there, but he was not exactly a picture of health last season, and a few extra games at DH wouldn’t hurt. But even then, Victor Martinez would most likely slide in at first base. There is very little chance for Lennerton to break camp with the team, and Tigers fans are rooting to never see Lennerton in the starting line-up, as it would likely mean an injury to Miggy or V-Mart, but he can be productive if he gets an opportunity.