After making a brief debut in 2007, the Tigers sent Iorg, the son and nephew of former big leaguers Garth and Dane, respectively, straight to the Class A Advanced Florida State League. He showed glimpses of his tremendous abilities, with double digits in home runs and 22 stolen bases. But he also struck out 111 times in 99 games. A problem with his throwing shoulder cut down his time and further delayed his development.
The Tigers then made a decision that may have seemed conservative. While many thought the 23-year-old should go to the Arizona Fall League, the Minor League field staff agreed that because of all the time he's missed in recent years, going to instructs and then home made the most sense.
Ezell and his staff let Iorg, like they do most players, have a say in what he should work on. They were thrilled when he wanted to focus on the exact thing they felt he needed to improve: keeping himself in check and channeling all that energy to make the most of his athletic gifts.
"Him realizing that was the biggest thing," Ezell said. "I think he really made strides. He's invited to Major League camp; when he gets there, it'll be interesting to see. There'll be times someone will have to speak to him, 'Don't let the RPMs outrun you.' That was something I believe he really saw and was figuring it out.
"There weren't many games, but every day there was constant work and conversations about that particular thing. That's what I think will pay off. I think we did the right thing. We'll see."
Other Tigers on Classic rosters
LHP Fu-Te Ni
might be new to the Tigers organization, but he's no stranger to Chinese Taipei and international competition. The 26-year-old has pitched in the pro league there and led the circuit in strikeouts. He also pitched on the National Team in the Olympics, tossing 11 innings and giving up five runs, though he did strike out 11. The Tigers signed him to a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invite. He'll compete for a lefty job out of the bullpen.
C Max St. Pierre was on the Canadian team in the 2006 Classic, getting a pair of at-bats. Drafted by the Tigers back in 1997, he played in the organization through 2006, making it as high as Triple-A. He spent the 2007 season with the Brewers, then came back home by signing a Minor League deal with Detroit before the 2008 season.
Aussie pitchers are not often taken in the Draft, but that was the case with RHP Brendan Wise, who was born in Perth but attended Pratt Community College and was selected by the Tigers in the eighth round of the 2005 Draft. Now 23, Wise split the 2008 season between Lakeland and Erie, posted a 3.74 ERA in 48 relief appearances.
It will be interesting to see what happens with C Andrew Graham. The Australian backstop missed all of the 2008 season following elbow surgery. He did make it back for instructs and has been given a clean bill of health. After rehabbing all last year, it's unclear whether he's ready to stick with the Australian team.