MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Martinez trade return bearing fruit at Tigers instructs

Martinez trade return bearing fruit at Tigers instructs

Trades made in and around the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31 are typically Major League focused, at least in terms of evaluating the deal in the short term. The Tigers' trade of J.D. Martinez to the D-backs certainly seems like an Arizona win, even for just a rental, given that he hit 29 home runs in 62 games following the deal, but Detroit is hopeful it will get a solid return in the long term.

The Tigers certainly felt that way after seeing the three players they received in the deal, Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King, participate in instructional league play. After this type of trade, newly acquired prospects are usually sent out to affiliates, and it's at instructs when the player development staff first truly gets a chance to work with these prospects. And the Tigers think they have a lot to work with.

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Lugo, who spent the year in Double-A, wouldn't normally be a candidate for instructs. He played in the Arizona Fall League a year ago and upper-level players don't usually see time in instructional league play. But the Tigers brought him to Lakeland for a specific reason.

"We're playing him at second base," Tigers farm director Dave Owen said. "When we got him, he was at third. We had him there and we had him at second a little. He has good hands, he has a cannon, his feet work well. Right now that might be his go-to position until we see something different."

Owen thinks Lugo, currently No. 15 on the Tigers' Top 30 Prospects list, could settle in at second as a regular. But he also thinks he has the skills to move around the infield, even playing shortstop, his original position, if needed.

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There's no question Alcantara can play shortstop. That's where he has played almost exclusively in his Minor League career, and he's shown just how good he is during instructs. It's his ability to impact the baseball offensively that the Tigers want to help him with.

"He can really play shortstop," Owen said. "He can pick it up and throw it. He can run. We just have to get his body a little stronger and see where it takes him. He has a position, which is a big part of it."

King is much further behind his two trade companions. A left-handed-hitting middle infielder, he hit for average in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League after the trade, and he has played more shortstop than anywhere else in his brief career. More than anything, the teenager just needs to physically mature.

"He's real young and real thin," Owen said. "He has some growing to do, but he has tremendous instincts. He's athletic and can throw. But he's a baby and is total projections. We'll just have to see if he can get strong enough to swing the bat a little bit."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.