Scott Harris’ first big move as the President of Baseball Operations for the Detroit Tigers was sending Joe Jimenez to the Atlanta Braves in return for a couple of prospects. The deal occurred during the most exciting part of the MLB off-season, the Winter Meetings, where Tigers’ fans were desperately waiting to see what moves the team would make. The prospects being sent to Detroit were 3B/OF Justyn-Henry Malloy, age 22, and LHP Jake Higginbotham, age 26 (now 27 as of 01/11/23). Higginbotham hasn’t shown much to be excited about, but Malloy is a different story. In 2022, his first full season in the minor leagues after being drafted, he played at three different levels, as well as the Arizona Fall League. Malloy started off in High-A, where he played 71 games and posted the splits .304/.409/.479. He quickly moved to the Braves AA affiliate, where he then played 54 games and posted splits of .268/.403/.421. Once again, his performance would warrant a quick promotion up to AAA, where he would finish the season playing eight games and slashing .280/.424/.440 in the small sample. Unsurprisingly, he received an invite to play in the Arizona Fall League after the season, in which he would play 20 games and slash .306/.438/.444. The number I want you to pay close attention to from all of those splits is his OBP. At every single level, Malloy managed to put up an OBP of over .400, demonstrating his impressive discipline at the plate. Malloy has openly stated that he takes great pride in his ability to control the strike zone as a hitter.
In almost every single public appearance since becoming the President of Baseball Operations in Detroit, Scott Harris has stated that his goal is to get players that control the strike zone. As a hitter, it would be hard to find a much better example of a young player that does precisely that than Justyn-Henry Malloy. Since Candelario was designated for assignment in November of 2022, Tigers’ fans have been asking the question of who will be playing third base going forward for a Tigers team in desperate need of improvement in 2023. I think, at least to start, we will be seeing a lot of newly acquired Tiger Nick Maton at third. I would not, however, be shocked to see Malloy in the lineup at some point during the season. The Tigers very well could be looking at their starting third baseman of the future, and I would not be shocked if that is sooner rather than later.