Now as a Detroit selection in the First-Year Player Draft, it might someday turn into home again.
When Bruce Fields served as the Tigers' hitting coach from 2003-05, the ballpark was more than just the place where he worked. For Dan Fields, it was the place where the game began to blossom before he emerged as one of the best athletes in the state. And the Tigers had as much advance scouting as anyone.
Fields was 12 years old and taking batting practice when he hit a home run with a wooden bat, a feat that caught the eye of more than a few players and became the stuff of legend.
The talent obviously was there. And the more Fields had a chance to be around the Tigers over the next few years along with his older brother, Aaron, the more he learned about what it takes to turn talent into performance.
"I saw what those guys go through every day," Fields said Tuesday.
In turn, he did a lot of what he saw once he joined the baseball program at Detroit Jesuit High School.
"We would show up to practice a little earlier, get in our hitting," he said. "Then on our off-days, we would work out."
That work has paid off. Fields went into the Draft as the top talent in the state. And when the Tigers selected him in the sixth round as the 180th overall pick, he became the first Michigander to go. His father, now a hitting instructor in the Cleveland Indians system, couldn't be more proud.
Now he has to decide whether he wants to go pro or follow through on his commitment to the University of Michigan. The expectation that he would go to school was one reason why he didn't go higher. Once he lasted past the first five rounds, the Tigers took a chance, even though they weren't the most heavily involved team in keeping in touch with him.
Fields is honest when he said a signing bonus will play a role in his decision. But it isn't the only factor.
"I know education is a very important thing for my family," Fields said. "My parents have both emphasized that. It's definitely going to be a tough choice to make."
Here's a roundup of the Tigers' Day 2 selections:
Round 4: Edwin Gomez, SS, Puerto Rico Academy
The cousin of longtime Major League infielder Alex Cintron is a big, wiry, switch-hitting infielder with some athleticism. He might eventually outgrow the shortstop position, but the Tigers hope the bat carries over. Baseball America rated him as the fifth-best player in a strong group of talent from Puerto Rico.
Round 5: Austin Wood, LHP, University of Texas
If the name sounds familiar, it's probably from the 169 pitches and 13 innings he threw in the Longhorns' extra-inning NCAA regional marathon against Boston College. Lost in the headlines, however, is a good-sized left-hander going into a system that could use some more southpaw talent. Wood went 5-1 with a 2.19 ERA and 15 saves in his senior season, scattering 57 hits over 78 innings with 67 strikeouts and only two home runs allowed.
Round 6: Daniel Fields, SS, Detroit Jesuit HS
The Tigers remember Fields well from the days when his dad, Bruce Fields, was Detroit's hitting coach and Daniel was homering in Comerica Park during batting practice as a middle schooler. Their history still might not keep the highly touted Fields from following through on his commitment to attend the University of Michigan, but he's the type of athlete whose history around the game and raw talent make him worth a shot.
Round 7: Jamie Johnson, CF, Oklahoma
Johnson earned regard as the leadoff hitter on a Sooners team that made it to the regional finals this year. A two-time all-Big 12 selection, the junior batted .353 with 13 homers, 44 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. At 5-foot-8, His size at 5-foot-8 was no doubt a factor in where he went.
Round 8: Craig Fritsch, RHP, Baylor
A lanky 6-foot-4 hurler with a sidearm motion, Fritsch had his share of struggles in his redshirt sophomore season, but finished with a flourish. He went 4-5 with a 5.09 ERA and a save for the year, but posted a 3-0 mark with a 0.90 ERA over his final seven outings, with 22 strikeouts in 20 innings.
Round 9: John Murrian, C, Winthrop
A three-year starter behind the plate for the Eagles, Murrian batted .327 with six home runs and 42 RBIs in 59 games. He adds to the Tigers' catching depth.
Tigers -- Top five selections
|9||RHP||Jacob Turner||Westminster Christian Academy|
|58||LHP||Andrew Oliver||Oklahoma St U|
|89||3B||Wade Gaynor||Western Kentucky U|
|120||SS||Edwin Gomez||Puerto Rico BB Academy HS|
|150||LHP||Austin Wood||U Texas Austin|
|Complete Tigers Draft results >|
Round 10: Chris Sedon, 2B, Pittsburgh
A first-time Louisville Slugger All-American, Sedon hit his way out of the stereotype of his 5-foot-10 size by setting a school record with 22 homers, 62 RBIs and 19 stolen bases to go with a .398 average, though he's characterized as a line-drive hitter. Baseball America ranked him as the fourth-best player out of Pennsylvania.
Round 11: Adam Wilk, LHP, Long Beach State
A second-team all-Big West starter, Wilk led the Dirtbags in innings as a junior after spending his first two seasons as a spot starter and lefty reliever. He went 7-4 with a 2.78 ERA.
Round 12: Matt Thomson, RHP, San Diego
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound starter entered the year as a highly ranked hurler before struggling to a 5-5 record and 5.98 ERA. As such, he fills the Tigers' profile of a good arm that did not have good results in his Draft year. His fastball reportedly hits the lower 90s to go with a curveball, slider and change.
Round 13: Michael Rockett, CF, Texas-San Antonio
If the name doesn't denote enough speed, the fact that he played for the Roadrunners might. He swiped 14 bases in his senior season at UTSA to go with a .394 average, 15 homers and 58 RBIs. His uncle, Pat, was a first-round pick in 1973.
Round 14: Kevan Hess, RHP, Western Michigan
His older brother, Andrew, is a pitcher in the Tigers system, which is where his future also seems to be heading. The younger Hess was a catcher for his first two seasons before moving to the bullpen as a junior, pitching 24 1/3 innings with 24 strikeouts. He grew up a Tigers fan in Kalamazoo.
Round 15: Mark Appel, RHP, Monte Vista HS, Danville, Calif.
Baseball America ranked the 6-foot-4 hurler the 132nd best prospect in the nation, in part based on a fastball that reportedly topped out at 94 mph and raw talent after spending the first part of his prep career focused on basketball. However, he has committed to go to Stanford, which could be difficult to change in Round 15.
Round 16: Kenny Faulk, LHP, Kennesaw State
A lefty reliever on a pitching-rich Owls roster, Faulk drew some attention with a fastball that reportedly hit 93 mph, though it's more consistently a couple ticks slower. The senior went 7-4 with four saves and a 3.16 ERA, striking out 56 batters in 42 2/3 innings.
Round 17: Nate Newman, RHP, Pepperdine
A 6-foot-5 right-hander, Newman was a high-strikeout pitcher for the Waves who also had his share of trouble. He went 3-5 with a 5.12 ERA in 13 appearances, 12 of them starts, while fanning 79 batters over 77 1/3 innings.
Round 18: Eric Roof, C, Michigan State
Roof becomes the second of Tigers instructor Gene Roof's sons to join the organization, following in Shawn's footsteps. He served as an offensive catalyst for the Spartans in his senior season, batting .345 with 14 doubles, 41 RBIs and a .525 slugging percentage, all team highs.
Round 19: Rawley Bishop, 3B, Middle Tennessee
Bishop began his college career with shoulder surgery four years ago, but has battled back since to put on a hitting display as a redshirt senior, batting .398 in 62 games for the Raiders along with 14 home runs, 51 RBIs and a .502 on-base percentage.
Round 20: James Gulliver, SS, Eastern Michigan
The son of former All-American and onetime Orioles shortstop Glenn Gulliver, the junior followed in his father's footsteps at Eastern and earned second-team all-MAC honors. He hit .338 with 14 home runs, 61 RBIs and 61 runs scored.
Round 21: Giovanni Soto, LHP, No school
Round 22: Matthew Mansilla, CF, College of Charleston
A second-team All-Southern Conference selection as a senior, Mansilla batted .330 with 19 home runs and 64 RBIs to go with 16 stolen bases.
Round 23: Cory Hamilton, RHP, Cal-Irvine
A redshirt sophomore reliever on the Anteaters, Hamilton went 0-2 with a 7.96 ERA, striking out 33 batters in 37 1/3 innings.
Round 24: Wade Kapteyn, RHP, Evansville
Kapteyn went 2-10 with a 5.71 ERA in 15 starts for the Purple Aces, but also tossed 11 consecutive scoreless innings against Cal State-Northridge and Pepperdine. Baseball America ranked him 16th among Draft prospects from Indiana.
Round 25: Victor Roache, RF, Lincoln HS, Ypsilanti, Mich.
The fourth-best Draft prospect in Michigan according to Baseball America, the 17-year-old is regarded as a skilled, speedy athlete at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds. However, he is also committed to Georgia Southern.
Round 26: Edgar Corcino, 3B, Adolfina Irizarry De Puig HS, Puerto Rico
Corcino ranked 18th among Puerto Rican Draft prospects according to Baseball America based on his strong arm and athletic build.
Round 27: Pat McKenna, SS, Bryant University
The 5-foot-9 senior batted .338 for the Bulldogs with 12 home runs and 43 RBIs and 62 runs scored.
Round 28: Tobin Mateychick, RHP, Enid (Okla.) HS
A 6-foot-4 right-hander, Mateychick shows potential with a 90-mph fastball to go with a breaking ball and changeup. He has committed to attend Wichita State.
Round 29: Mike Morrison, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
The junior spent of the season as the closer on a Titans squad that's headed to the College World Series. With a low-90s fastball and offspeed pitch, he posted a 1-2 record with four saves and a 3.10 ERA in 21 regular-season appearances, striking out 26 and walking 13 over 20 1/3 innings.
Round 30: James Robbins, 1B, Shorecrest (Wash.) HS
Robbins was a talented hitter and pitcher in high school who has committed to Washington State, but the Tigers have listed him on the hitting side. A six-footer listed at 225 pounds, he's more athletic than his frame would suggest.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less