Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez signed on the bottom line for the Tigers following the horrendous season of 2003 and the Tigers’ catching issues were solved. He could field the position well, hit with power numbers, and had just been a World Series winner with the Marlins. It was just over a year ago that Pudge’s time as a Tiger had expired, and the team was back on the search for somebody not named Max St. Pierre or Dane Sardinha.
For the season, Gerald Laird, Dusty Ryan, Matt Treanor and the aforementioned Sardinha have all filled in well enough for the Tigers to be in pole position for the final two months of the season. However, the Tigers looked (literally) in the family for one potential answer to the post-Pudge catching woes.
Al Avila is to the Tigers what Jimmy Devellano has been for the Red Wings, he is a trusted adviser who went the scouting to Assistant GM route. When he drafted Josh Beckett out of high school ten years ago, Avila saw a power arm and a special talent that has developed into a true ace and champion for the Red Sox.
It was this same vision that took a kid out of New Jersey named Porcello and put him in a Tigers uniform. In yesterday’s game against the Orioles, the kid from Jersey spent nearly six innings throwing to Avila’s son – Alex.
While breeding championship horses is often done to yield future Kentucky Derby winners and prize horses, the Tigers have gone to baseball bloodlines in recent years for the farm system. I don’t even have to tell you the current/former Tigers that are related to some of the latest draft picks: Richard Zumaya, Wade Lamont, Colin Kaline and Matt Robertson. The mere odds that one would crack the big leagues on merit alone is incredible. Alex was a fine collegiate player in his own right and showed some good work with the bat in his first game. Hopefully he’ll be able to bring his A-vila game for many years to come!