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Tigers unearth a trade gem in Paredes

Shortstop, 18, uses powerful August stretch to turn heads
MLB.com @beckjason

Arguably the most promising bat of the Tigers' rebuilding trades last summer pronounced his potential with one incredible August stretch. But there was more to Isaac Paredes' game than his three home runs in two games.

Those two efforts for Class A West Michigan at Lake County, coincidentally while Tigers general manager Al Avila was in town to watch the organization's No. 2 overall prospect Matt Manning, raised Detroit fans' hopes that they had found a gem in their July deals. Paredes was an 18-year-old shortstop in the Midwest League, and the lesser-known infield prospect in the week-old trade that sent Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs. Jeimer Candelario was on the cusp of the big leagues, but some scouts saw Paredes as the find. Those home runs had fans seeing it as a steal.

Arguably the most promising bat of the Tigers' rebuilding trades last summer pronounced his potential with one incredible August stretch. But there was more to Isaac Paredes' game than his three home runs in two games.

Those two efforts for Class A West Michigan at Lake County, coincidentally while Tigers general manager Al Avila was in town to watch the organization's No. 2 overall prospect Matt Manning, raised Detroit fans' hopes that they had found a gem in their July deals. Paredes was an 18-year-old shortstop in the Midwest League, and the lesser-known infield prospect in the week-old trade that sent Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs. Jeimer Candelario was on the cusp of the big leagues, but some scouts saw Paredes as the find. Those home runs had fans seeing it as a steal.

Top 30 Tigers prospects

The rest of the way was a reminder that Paredes was still a raw prospect, a teenager who began playing pro ball just a year earlier and signed in 2015 for an $800,000 bonus. After six hits and seven RBIs in two days, he went 8-for-73 with one extra-base hit and eight RBIs over his next 21 games. He labored out of that slump with three hits and two doubles in West Michigan's three-game Midwest League playoff series loss to Dayton, giving him some momentum heading into winter ball.

Add Paredes' stints for the Cubs' Midwest League affiliate in South Bend to his Whitecaps work, and the right-handed hitter batted .252 (114-for-452) with 28 doubles, 11 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .725 OPS. With a chance to catch his breath, he returned to his native Mexico and batted .370 (20-for-54) with a home run and seven RBIs in a 15-game stint for Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League.

Paredes also rose from the 19th-ranked prospect in the Cubs' system to the ninth-ranked Tigers prospect in MLB Pipeline's most recent rankings. He's the highest-ranked infielder in a system that had become dramatically thin in recent years, and became the focus of the Tigers' summer dealings.

Paredes' muscular build resembles a college upperclassman's, and fills out his 5-foot-11 frame. Despite the streakiness, his plate approach shows more maturity than his age. Even as he slumped in August, Paredes didn't rack up strikeouts, fanning as many times at West Michigan as he walked (13). He walked and struck out five times each in winter ball.

"He's got an advanced approach for his age," said Mike Rabelo, who managed Paredes at West Michigan before being promoted to Class A Advanced Lakeland this offseason. "You don't see him too much swinging at balls out of the zone like you would expect from an 18-year-old guy that has some pop. He's got a pretty good clue when he goes up there. That's the reason why we traded for him, when he holds that bat in his hands."

Paredes, speaking at season's end through translator and Whitecaps coach Jorge Cordova, said he tried to make an impression after the trade. Once he hit the home runs, he got away from his game.

"He just lost his plan, the way he's supposed to hit," Cordova said. "He was too comfortable, he wasn't concentrating, he was swinging the bat like crazy. He wasn't focused enough to hit the way he's supposed to hit."

A refocus, with a mechanical tip or two from then-Whitecaps hitting coach Mike Hessman, got him back to form.

Like many of the prospects the Tigers acquired in trades this summer, Candelario aside, Paredes is far from the doorstep to Detroit. His next logical step is Lakeland, where the Florida State League tends to humble power hitters.

Still, if he can build on his approach and keep learning rather than change, he has the strength and discipline to be the kind of impact-hitting young infielder the Tigers have struggled to produce in recent years since trading Devon Travis to Toronto for Anthony Gose.

Paredes might outgrow shortstop, and he began playing second and third base in spots down the stretch, but if he hits, the Tigers will find a place.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Isaac Paredes