Tigers '23 first-rounder Clark pumped for 'stacked' Spring Breakout roster

February 27th, 2024

Tigers Minor Leaguers didn't have to report to Spring Training until late February, but couldn’t stay away.

After starting a busy offseason at home in Franklin, Ind., and getting engaged to his long-time girlfriend, Kayli Farmer, he felt the pull to the Detroit's facility in Lakeland, Fla., where he ended his first professional season at Single-A.

Arriving a month early has been hugely beneficial for the top-ranked Tigers prospect (MLB No. 13). He’s been able to put on weight and make tweaks to his swing, raising his hands to create a better direct path, while building relationships with his current and future teammates.

"It was nice having the ability to kind of get outside and play long toss in warm weather and shorts instead of negative-six degrees in like March," Clark said on the latest episode of the MLB Pipeline Podcast. "I'm really happy with where I am. I've made a lot of steps and I'm excited for this season, no doubt."

Big things are expected of Clark, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 Draft. He had his share of ups and downs last season -- at just 18 years old, he slashed .283/.411/.544 in 12 games with the FCL Tigers before struggling and then ultimately coming up big in Single-A Lakeland's playoff run -- and will have ample opportunity to show off his well-rounded skillset.

Although the Tigers haven't told him if or when he'll get a chance to play in a big league Spring Training game, he does have a locker with his jersey hanging. Where he's almost certain to compete on a large stage, though, is at Spring Breakout.

Newly established in 2024, Spring Breakout will be an exhibition series where the best players from each farm system play against each other. The future Tigers are set to play Phillies prospects on Saturday, March 16 at 1:05 p.m. ET, where Clark is expected to be one of seven Top 100 prospects competing.

Between playing at two levels last year and working out over the last several weeks with more teammates -- he's been taking dozens of live at-bats since the start of the month -- Clark has gotten a sense for how talented Detroit's farm system is from the FCL to Triple-A.

"In my head, I tried to build our own [team] a couple of times just by like looking at the rankings and stuff, and I was like, 'Who would play where?'" Clark said. "We are pretty loaded from 1 to 30. You've got guys like Jace [Jung] and Colt [Keith] up in big league camp, but still like take those guys away, we're still just stacked from top to bottom and we have good pitching too."

Once Detroit's matchup against Philadelphia was announced, Clark studied the Phillies prospect rankings and was immediately excited to face off against fellow 2023 first-rounder Aidan Miller and Justin Crawford, the team’s fourth-ranked prospect. If nothing else, it will prove to be a great measuring stick to kick off the year.

"I think it's either going to be a shootout or it's going be like 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, something like that," Clark said. "I mean, I'm excited for it. I've been jaw jacking Aidan a little bit."