Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Alex Avila had a very good spring and put his impressive bat on display last year in his late summer call-up to Detroit. However, Avila's struggles at the plate are a clear indication that Avila likely would have been better off serving the team in a different capacity, that being playing in Triple-A for the Mud Hens. Avila's batting average will eventually come around as a BABIP under .200 simply won't hold up over time (unless Avila runs into the worst luck of just about any player in recorded history). But Avila, who came into the year knowing he needed to focus on his defense, likely did so at the expense of his productivity at the plate, and because of it, the Tigers have a two headed monster at catcher combining to hit under .150 with little power. Avila is still a quality player and has a bright future ahead of him, but the Tigers would have likely been better off had the team kept Robinson Diaz in the near term, and gave Avila the chance to work on his game more without the spectacle of the big leagues pressing down on him.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
In short, no, I don't think Avila's offensive struggles are indicative of him needing to start the year in the minors. In fact, I don't think they are indicative of much at all. Avila's bat and approach were big league ready when he was called to Detroit last year, and that hasn't changed in the time since his call-up. His defense has made exceptional strides, and he's actually been a better defender than Gerald Laird this year according to most scouts, as Laird battles through a defensive slump. With inconsistent playing time and pitchers having a book on him from his brief big league trial last year, Avila is simply in need of making adjustments at the plate. Given his high baseball IQ, and his natural hitting ability, I'm quite confident he will make those adjustments and return to being an offensive plus for this team.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
With the spring he had, Avila earned his spot on the roster, and he was the best option the club had to share the catching duties with Gerald Laird. Not to mention that with Avila being the catcher of the future, this is a way to have him keep working with the big-league pitching staff. The batting average certainly isn't pretty, but he has drawn six walks in his limited number of at-bats, so he still has his discerning eye at the plate. With Laird not hitting much better, I wouldn't be surprised to see Avila get more playing time if his bat starts to perk up some.
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