LAKELAND, Fla. – The Commodore connection is strong within the Detroit Tigers organization.
Connor Harrell, a centre-field prospect for Detroit, played his college baseball at Vanderbilt University, and was drafted alongside fellow Commodore Kevin Ziomek during the 2013 baseball draft.
The relationship the two share stems from when they played together at Vanderbilt.
“Kevin and I have been together since 2011 and we’ve been roommates for four years now,” said Harrell, sitting on a bench at Joker Marchant Stadium, the Detroit Tigers’ spring training facility. “It’s pretty neat to be able to do this with him and on top of that, there’s probably six or seven guys from Vanderbilt who are with the Tigers…so it’s like a little reunion for a lot of us.”
David Price, also a Vanderbilt product and current starting pitcher for the Tigers, is someone that Harrell looks up to.
Harrell fondly remembers watching Price on TV when he was in high school and college and is enjoying being around him at spring training.
“The Tigers have been really good for the past five or six years and David Price has also been really good for them,” said Harrell. “He also went to Vanderbilt and works out in the off-season in the same facility as me, so I like to watch him.”
Much to Harrell’s surprise, the Tigers selected him in the 31st round of the 2012 amateur draft after an admittedly poor freshman year.
The 23 year old didn’t quite feel ready for the majors and chose to play out his senior year with the Commodores. In the following draft the Tigers snagged him up once again, this time in the seventh round in 2013.
“It was crazy,” said Harrell, when describing what it was like being drafted twice by Detroit. “The first time I was really thankful because of the chance they took on me after the year I had.”
“I loved hearing the Detroit Tigers select my name and it was cool to see them draft me twice.”
Harrell had an impressive season last year for the Lakeland Flying Tigers, as he belted out 14 home runs while driving in 66 runs and posted a solid .344 on-base percentage.
He believes that maintaining a high on-base percentage and staying consistent offensively will lead to him eventually cracking the big-league roster.
“I’d like to draw walks more and that comes with just having better at-bats,” said Harrell. “I think being consistent is the most important thing, that’s what they (Tigers’ management) want to see.”
“They want guys who can play every day and provide for the squad.”
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