A tip of the cap to Mike Hessman
Mike Hessman was a Toledo Mud Hen for five years. He joined the club back when they had a prospect named Curtis Granderson in center field, a slugger named Marcus Thames and a first-base mix of Chris Shelton and Carlos Pena.
Now, Hessman is a free agent at long last, and it appears his time as a Mud Hen is over.
Baseball America’s full list of minor league free agents is out, and while the Tigers don’t have a lot of them, they include some familiar faces. Brent Clevlen is one, and with a full outfield of prospects ready to come up from Double-A Erie, Clevlen’s Toledo tenure is likely at an end as well. He spent three years with the Hens, but could never quite seem to strike the balance between hitting for contact and hitting for power.
Macay McBride is also a free agent, though his baseball future seems to be in question. His injuries haven’t allowed him to pitch in a game since he left the Mud Hens season opener in 2008 after one inning.
But make no mistake, the biggest name heading out of Toledo is Hessman, whose 140 home runs as a Mud Hens are easily a franchise record. By comparison, nobody in Detroit this year has that many homers as a Tiger. He’s a familar, welcome face for many fans at Fifth Third Field, and he’ll be missed.
Still, this is a bittersweet parting, because it finally gives Hessman the chance to find a better opportunity elsewhere. There was talk last winter of an opportunity to play in Japan, but with Hessman on Detroit’s 40-man roster, that wasn’t going to happen. No idea whether that’s still a possibility, but if it is, it can be a lucrative one. Many Triple-A veterans make more money playing overseas or in Mexico.
If Hessman ends up staying in the States, he can look for an organization that might give him a better chance at a call-up to the Majors, even in just a spot role. He didn’t get any time in Detroit this year after the Tigers outrighted him out of spring training.
Hoping for the best for him. He’s a good guy and he deserves to see what opportunities he can get. Whatever happens, it’ll be odd going to Toledo and not seeing him there.
Here’s the full list of Tigers minor league free agents:
RHPs Nate Bump, Ruddy Lugo, Patrick Stanley
LHPs Ryan Ketchner, Macay McBride, Kris Regas, Jason Waddell
C Dane Sardinha
IF Mike Hessman
OFs Brent Clevlen, Jeramy Laster, Maiko Loyola