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Machado named Venezuelan Winter League Player of Week

DETROIT -- The Tigers' season ended three weeks ago, but Dixon Machado hasn't stopped hitting. The shortstop prospect, who went straight from the Tigers' lineup to winter ball, has been named the Venezuelan Winter League's Player of the Week for his work with Leones del Caracas.

According to a release from the league, Machado was selected for the award by media votes.

Machado, who spent much of September in Detroit's lineup after Jose Iglesias' right middle finger contusion cost him the final month of the season, has been on a tear for Caracas, batting 22-for-57 (.386) with seven doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs. Add in 11 walks, and he has reached base safely in nearly half his plate appearances. Three of those doubles and two homers came in five games last week, along with six runs scored and eight RBIs.

The 23-year-old Machado hit .235 (16-for-68) with three doubles and five RBIs in 24 games with the Tigers, 21 of them in September. The fill-in stint gave Machado a chance to get regular looks at Major League pitching, and gave Tigers officials a chance to evaluate what they have in Machado heading into the offseason.

"He's definitely going to help us [going forward]," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said during the final weekend of the season. "He's certainly a Major League shortstop. He's got more range than we expected, he's got the arm strength and he has good at-bats.

"He's still learning. He's still getting stronger. But he's not overmatched by big league pitching."

So far, he isn't overmatched by winter ball pitching, either. He'll be further challenged as the Venezuelan League season continues and more Major League pitchers join their respective clubs following an early offseason break, but he has seemingly taken his big league approach back home.

"I don't really think about [making an impression]," Machado said at the end of the Tigers season. "I just play. I let stuff happen. I don't really think about hitting .300. I just try to have good at-bats every time, catch every ground ball. I'm happy. I know it could be better, but I'm really happy."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.
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