No matter how much baseball changes teams still love having a big slugger in the middle of their lineups. The visual of a big walloper striding to the plate still inspires fear in the hearts of opposing players and fans. Although the Detroit Tigers already have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, two of the best sluggers in the game anchoring their lineup, they may have found another in first base prospect Dean Green.
At 6’4 and 255 pounds, Green is as imposing a player as you’re likely to see. He grew up playing baseball, football, and basketball, inspired by his father Rodney, who played college baseball at the University of Tulsa. But it was baseball where Green shone the most. During his career with Berryhill High School in Oklahoma, he totaled 28 home runs and 256 RBI, including hitting .505 with 7 home runs and 85 RBI as a senior, leading his team to a Class 4A state championship.
Green committed to Oklahoma State, where he had an excellent career as a three-time Academic All-American. Following his junior season he left school and gave up his scholarship to prepare for the draft, but was shocked to go undrafted. Instead of giving up, he recommitted himself more than ever, and enrolled at tiny Barry University. He took his frustration out on opposing pitchers during his senior season, hitting .400 with 19 home runs and 77 RBI, prompting the Tigers to take him in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.
Green started his professional career with a bang last year, hitting .336 with 7 home runs and 44 RBI in 65 games with short-season Connecticut. He has followed that up with another strong campaign this year, hitting .299 with 12 home runs and 75 RBI in 104 games spread across three levels, reaching as high as High-A Lakeland. Despite his slugger status, he is not strikeout prone, whiffing just 103 times in his 169 career games. More information about his statistics can be found here.
This past off-season Green answered some questions about his baseball career. He is definitely an intriguing prospect to watch as he continues to hit his way through the minors.
Dean Green Interview:
Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?: When I was little I loved watching the St. Louis Cardinals. They were a Midwest team and we got the games on tv and the radio back home. My favorite player was Will Clark. I carried his baseball card around with me everywhere.
How did you know that the Tigers were interested in you?: I’d been in contact with a lot of teams and the Tigers were one of them who invited me to a workout before the draft.; the rest just kind of fell into place. I knew they were interested, just didn’t know how much they were interested.
Can you describe what your draft day experience was like?: It was relatively calm to be honest. I sat by my computer at home listening to the names being called, just hoping to hear mine. And when the phone calls started coming in I was joyful to say the least. I heard my name get called and had a huge smile on my face. The happiest kid alive at that moment. My family was the happiest I’ve ever seen them. One of my best memories!
Al Kaline indicated that he was instrumental in having the Tigers draft you. What do you know about that?: To be honest I was told that he was a big part in why I’m a Tiger, but the details were never shared with me. I’ve met Mr. Kaline a few times and he is a very humble and extraordinary person. I’m flattered to be associated in any way with a person of his stature. I know I want to continue to succeed, because I’d hate to let anyone down, especially him.
What was the most difficult thing to become accustomed to during your first professional season?: I really didn’t have to adjust too much to anything out of the norm. If I were to say one thing in particular it would probably be the crazy hours that we drive to places or get into our hotels. That took a little getting used to at first, but every minute of it is worth it.
If you could do anything differently about your baseball career to date, what would that be?: I don’t think I would do anything differently. I don’t like to look back on what could have been or what if I’d of done this or that, because I’m living my dream right now. I’m playing in an amazing organization that treats their players extremely well. I’m getting to meet new people, travel to places I’ve never been, and I’m getting to play the game I love. Doesn’t get much better than that. God has blessed me in more ways than I could ever imagine and I hope he continues to do so.
Have you had a chance to interact or get advice from any Detroit players?: I’ve talked to a view of the big league guys and numerous minor league guys, and the advice that they’ve given me is ‘enjoy
every minute of it.’ I’m going put that advice to good use. Not everyone gets to do what we do for a living, so I consider myself as one of the lucky ones.
Does the reality of the Tigers having such big stars playing your positions (Fielder, Cabrera, Martinez, etc…) change the way you approach your game or your hopes and aspirations?: Not at all. I approach each game the same way; expecting to win. I’m a huge competitor and I couldn’t stop the way I played even if I tried. I look at all the great players in front of me as a chance to gain experience and to be able to learn from them. Nothing has changed as far as my outlook goes. I still want to play in the big leagues and I will work as hard as I can to accomplish that goal. Lord willing, everything will work out for the best.