By Andrew Johnson

COMSTOCK PARK – Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila arrived at Fifth Third Ballpark on Monday to check out the West Michigan Whitecaps during their home stand this week.LSJ Logo incert

On Tuesday afternoon, Avila met with local media and spoke about a variety of topics, including what he looks for when he scouts Tiger minor league teams like the Whitecaps.Eye on the D

“I’m watching all of them,” Avila said about the players. “You want to see and get a feel for what everyone can do. When I leave after a few days, after seeing everything I can see, and talking to everyone involved with the club, I want to know who can help us at the big league level in the near future.

“If a trade comes up at the trade deadline and somebody wants one of our prospects, I need to know who we should try to trade and who should we try to keep at all costs. You’re really looking to see who the next major league talent is and at the same time have to look at every single player.”

Avila also fielded questions about the current Tigers roster.

The very first topic Avila was asked about was the recent success of former Whitecap Nick Castellanos.

“Nick actually came through the system pretty fast,” he said. “He was a high school player that could hit. We all felt that he could hit in high school, and played shortstop, but we knew he wasn’t going to be a shortstop.

Tigers General Manager Al Avila meets the media at Fifth Third Ballpark. Photo/Kevin Sielaff, LSJ

Tigers GM Al Avila meets the media at Fifth Third Ballpark. Photo/Kevin Sielaff

“He’s done well so far. I mean it’s been a slow process on defense but we always felt that Nick was going  to hit, and hit with power, when we drafted him out of high school as a tall skinny guy, while knowing he’d grow to be a big strong man, which he is now. That’s what he’s developed into and you see the power there and you see the offensive potential.

“We’re very happy with his development and people don’t realize that he’s still only 23 years old and one of the best values in baseball.”

Like most Tiger fans, Avila is thrilled with the early success of Jordan Zimmerman, the Tigers’ biggest offseason pitching acquisition.

“We’ve always liked Zimmerman, we scouted him as an amateur and followed his pro career,” Avila said. “We’ve always gotten good reports on him, not only about his pitching aspects but his overall make up and what he brings to the clubhouse.”

While some fans would like to see starting pitcher Daniel Norris return from the minor leagues and replace Mike Pelfrey, Avila said it’s too early to think about that.

“Right now we have Shane Greene on the (disabled list) and our minor league pitchers like Norris and Boyd really haven’t pitched to their full capabilities yet,” he said. “Norris had the injury and he’s just getting himself started, so far him it’s really like coming out of spring training right now.

“For those guys, they haven’t got on a roll yet, but once they do those issues (like possibly replacing Pelfrey in the rotation) will be looked at. Right now our main focus is to get Shane back healthy from the blister and get Norris and Matt Boyd full throttle with success at Toledo.

Avila was asked when we can expect to see new center fielder (and former Whitecap) Cameron Maybin, who has been injured since early in spring training.

“He’s a veteran and been around the league a lot,” Avila said. “He’s had his share of success and when we acquired him we acquired him to be our center fielder.

“Unfortunately he suffered the wrist injury in the first pitch he saw in spring training and got hit again in Toledo. He’s been playing well and hitting well lately and we expect him back shortly. Once he comes back he’ll be in center field, but I can’t give you an exact date. It’ll be sooner rather than later.”