Productive Iglesias 'entering prime of career'

Tigers shortstop impressing amid Trade Deadline speculation; Price offers praise for Castellanos

July 22nd, 2018

DETROIT -- has been through Trade Deadline speculation before, looking over his shoulder as the calendar turns. After all, he became a Tiger around Deadline time five years ago, traded by the Red Sox as Detroit searched for a fill-in for Jhonny Peralta.

There has been speculation that Iglesias might be on the move again for the past year and a half as the Tigers have looked to rebuild. More likely than not, this Trade Deadline will pass like the last, with Iglesias still in Detroit. But it won't be for a lack of performance from Iglesias, who has been quietly playing some of his best baseball over the past month.

"I feel like I'm entering the prime of my career, physically and mentality," Iglesias said Sunday morning after a four-RBI performance in Saturday's 5-0 win over the Red Sox. "And I think that helps a lot."

In terms of age and health, Iglesias has a point. Though seven years have passed since his Major League debut, he's just 28 years old. And after nagging injuries have cost him time during each of his previous seasons in Detroit, he has played in 95 of the Tigers' 101 games this season, including Sunday's series finale against Boston's Chris Sale.

"There's luck involved," Iglesias said. "If you get hit in the hand or hit in the head, it's out of your hands. But for the most part, knock on wood, I would say it's been a healthy season."

More importantly, there's now a maturity to Iglesias' game that was missing in past years. He has a better idea of who he is as a hitter, and he has responded to manager Ron Gardenhire's aggressive style on the basepaths. His 12 stolen bases are already a career high, and he's on pace for career bests in doubles (23 so far) and triples (three).

Though Iglesias isn't hitting for a ton of power, the extra-base uptick is reflected in his average exit velocity of 84.4 mph, according to Statcast™, which would be a career best. His average launch angle is up from years past to 11.1 degrees, dropping his ground-ball/fly-ball rate to a career low, yet his 29-percent line-drive rate is the best of his career.

Iglesias entered Sunday batting .290 with seven doubles, two triples, a home run and 18 RBIs since June 6.

Whether that production translates into trade interest is another matter. When the Nationals opted to stick with Stephen Drew at shortstop over acquiring Iglesias when was injured last summer, it seemed like a statement about Iglesias' market -- or lack thereof. Likewise, the Padres traded for last winter after limited discussion with the Tigers about Iglesias the previous offseason.

"I was traded in '13 here," Iglesias said. "It's something that I'd be lying to you if I said I don't think about it. You're kinda excited to see what's going on, either staying or leaving. Who knows? But it's out of my hands. I come in every day and enjoy the group, and that's pretty much what I'm doing."

With Iglesias up for free agency at season's end, he'll have a true open market this winter.

"We'll see what happens," Iglesias said. "It's a very tricky situation. I've been here for five years. I feel comfortable here. But we'll make adjustments."

Price impressed by Castellanos

Three years have passed since the Tigers traded to Toronto, and the teammates he remembers from his one-year tenure are few. But he remembers , a rookie third baseman when Price came to Detroit in 2014, and he's impressed with how Castellanos has grown since.

Like many Tigers fans, Price felt Castellanos was worthy of an All-Star nod this year based on his production. But beyond the numbers, Price is impressed with the way Castellanos plays the game, emerging as a core player during the Tigers' rebuild.

"You watch him, and you can tell he has a routine," Price said.

Mize to get work in Lakeland

Top Draft pick Casey Mize continues to work out at the Tigers' Spring Training facility in Lakeland, Fla., in anticipation of a late-season stint for the Tigers' Class A Advanced team there. He'll face hitters this coming week, and he is expected to toss about 20 innings over the final month of the Minor League season.

It's a different approach than what the Tigers did last year with first-round Draft pick Alex Faedo, who was shut down for the summer and didn't make his first pitch as a pro until this year. By giving Mize limited work this summer, the Tigers hope to give him something to build on this offseason.