DETROIT – Akil Baddoo, are you serious?
The talk of Detroit Tigers spring training finally got his first MLB at-bat Sunday against the Cleveland Indians, and the announcer could barely announce his name before Baddoo was trotting around the bases.
Baddoo, who hit .325 this spring with five home runs, 10 walks and 14 strikeouts in 50 plate appearances, came up to lead off the bottom of the third inning against Tribe starter Aaron Civale.
The Rule 5 draft pick wasn’t expected to make the roster to start the season, but his spring performance didn’t give A.J. Hinch a choice. Just 22 years old, Baddoo hadn’t played a game above High-A ball before Sunday, but if the Tigers left him off the active roster, they would have had to offer him back to division rival Minnesota.
One at-bat in, the choice is already paying dividends. Baddoo slapped the first pitch he saw from Civale the opposite way and immediately raised his arm in celebration.
The ball sailed into the bullpen in left field, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
Baddoo’s parents, who were caught on camera in the stands, went crazy, as did the rest of the Comerica Park crowd.
Detroit isn’t expected to be a contender this season, but at the very least, the team is playing competitive baseball and providing some fun moments.