Paredes embraces AFL after Futures Game nod

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PHOENIX -- Isaac Paredes is just 20 years old, but his age has hardly held him back as he’s climbed his way through the Tigers’ system.

Paredes was promoted to Double-A Erie late in the 2018 campaign and hit .321 over 39 games, despite being just 19 at the time. He then carried that momentum into the '19 campaign and batted .282/.368/.416 over 127 games with the SeaWolves, prompting the Tigers to send him to the Arizona Fall League for more development.

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“I’m very happy, I’ve very excited to be apart of this and for the opportunity that the Tigers have given me,” the Tigers’ No. 5 prospect said. “There’s a lot of talent here and I just appreciate the confidence that the Tigers have given me.”

Acquired in a 2017 trade with the Cubs, Paredes has rewarded the Tigers with his offensive consistency and production. While he projects to have average power in the future, Paredes currently employs a contact-focused approach and rarely strikes out. In fact, he struck out just 61 times this season and, for comparison’s sake, drew 57 walks.

Defensively, Paredes has good hands and a strong arm, but his range may require him to move away from shortstop. The infielder has spent time at both second and third base in the Minor Leagues and is open to playing either spot.

Paredes simply wants to be on the field, and after getting a brief taste of the Major League life during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, Paredes is focused on working his way up to the big leagues.

“It was a great experience finally going up there,” Paredes said. “My vision of baseball has changed entirely from being up there. I’m just excited to get back up there and continue to work my way there.”

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Tigers hitters in the Fall League:

Derek Hill, OF (No. 28): Hill is arguably the top center fielder in the Tigers’ system and his 70-grade speed allows him to track down balls no matter where they are hit. That plus speed is also a weapon on the basepaths, but the question is whether Hill will hit and reach base enough to truly tap into his potential. The 23-year-old, who was a first-round pick in 2014, hit .243/.311/.394 this season and struck out 147 times in 120 games at Double-A.

Jose Azocar, OF: Azocar’s first experience at the Double-A level this season was certainly a success. The 23-year-old hit .286/.317/.399 over 129 games with Erie and also set career highs for homers (10) and RBIs (58). Azocar started for the Western Division in the Eastern League All-Star Game and was also named the circuit’s Rookie of the Year.

Tigers pitchers in the Fall League:

Anthony Castro, RHP (No. 20): Castro’s fastball has natural life and reaches the upper 90s, which led to a career-high 116 strikeouts this season. The 24-year-old, whom the Tigers signed in 2011 out of Venezuela, threw 102 1/3 innings with Erie and held opponents to a .207 batting average, down from .251 a season ago. Castro finished with a 4.40 ERA, but after he posted an ERA over 5.00 in the first half, he made the necessary adjustments and pitched to a 3.92 mark in the second half of his first season at the Double-A level.

Alex Lange, RHP (No. 30): Acquired from the Cubs as part of the Nicholas Castellanos deal at the Trade Deadline, Lange is still adjusting to his new organization. The 23-year-old, a first-round pick from the 2017 Draft, was a starter for the first half of the season, but pitched out of the bullpen once he joined the Tigers’ organization. Lange gave up four runs over four innings in his first two relief appearances, but settled down and held opponents without an earned run in six of his final seven appearances.

Wladimir Pinto, RHP: The Tigers signed Pinto out of Venezuela in 2014 and the 21-year-old reached Double-A for the first time in '19. Pinto put up decent numbers in his first full season ('18), but really took a step forward this year as he pitched across two levels and posted a 2.34 ERA while racking up 87 strikeouts over 61 2/3 innings. While he spent the bulk of the season with Class A Advanced Lakeland, Pinto was solid once he got bumped up to Erie and pitched to a 2.57 ERA in Double-A.

Trent Szkutnik, LHP: A 20th-round pick from the 2014 Draft, Szkutnik bounced back and forth this season between Double-A and Triple-A Toledo, before ending his season on the injured list. The 26-year-old Michigan product struggled a bit this season and pitched to a 4.48 ERA over 43 appearances. In 2018, Szkutnik posted a 2.63 ERA over 44 appearances.

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