Top pick Clark's 'unreal' journey continues in Detroit

July 21st, 2023

DETROIT -- worked the room on Friday like he'd always been in it. A handshake here, a fistbump there and smiles all around. He held court with the vets in foul territory and joked with a legend.

He did TV interviews and print interviews and participated in an on-field photo shoot with his family. And the Tigers' top Draft pick did it all in a full suit on a boiling summer afternoon without breaking a sweat.

"It has been," Clark said, "unreal."

Detroit scooped up Clark, the 18-year-old outfielder with a cannon for an arm, with the third overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft on July 9. He reported to the team's facilities in Lakeland, Fla., last week to begin evaluation and workouts for his new organization not quite two months after his high school career wrapped up.

The ride has been a whirlwind, he conceded, and it most recently included a trip to Detroit for a little meet-and-greet and taste of the town prior to Friday's series opener against the Padres.

The day included meals at popular Woodward haunts The Hudson Cafe and Union Assembly and a tour of Little Caesars Arena between, before Clark landed at Comerica Park to rub elbows with Detroit's roster and check out the clubhouse he hopes will be his own one day.

After spending time with his new organization, Clark fired a perfect strike for his ceremonial first pitch. The catcher? Tigers starter Michael Lorenzen, with whom Clark has already struck up a friendship.

And of course, no Tigers experience would be complete without a little Miguel Cabrera. Miggy didn't disappoint, chiding Clark for not taking batting practice before admitting that his son was a big fan who's followed Clark on social media for quite some time.

"It took me a second to realize that's what he said," Clark said. "I literally kind of stood there in awe for a second, and was like, 'Wait a minute. This is Miguel Cabrera talking to me. Every childhood dream come true.' It's so cool. I used to play with him on MLB 2K10 every single day, and just rake with him, so it's really, really cool now to be ... a part of his organization."

Cabrera's 11-year-old son Christopher isn't Clark's only fan by far: Clark has nearly 370,000 followers on Instagram, more than 288,000 on TikTok and another 50,000 on Twitter.

It's all by design, said Clark, who even at this young stage in his career, already understands the power of his platform and the importance of making a good impression.   

"There's a lot of kids in America and a lot of kids around the world who may not have a role model or an inspiration or guidance to look up to," he offered. "There were times where I was kind of young in my relatively advanced baseball career, where I needed somebody to reach out to. I needed to hear something from a big-time player, whatever it may be.

"I want to be that voice for those kids."

Clark, who is a three-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Indiana and was the Gatorade National Player of the Year this spring, signed with Detroit on Monday for a $7.7 million bonus. His professional career will begin this summer with Class A Lakeland.