Akil Baddoo’s rookie season is full of ebbs & flows as the Tigers rookie outfielder rejoins the team following a two-week injury reserve stint caused by a collision with fellow MLBbro Derek Hill.
After the IL designation, Baddoo played four games for the Toledo Mud Hens, where he received 14 at-bats with four walks two hits, two runs, two RBI, one stolen base, one double, and in Baddoo like fashion, one walk-off single in front of a packed house at Fifth Third Field.
While still shaking off the cobwebs this past week, Baddoo played five games where he accumulated two hits. The kid even had time to celebrate with and inspire Michigan’s’ Taylor North Little League World Series Champions ahead of the series opener against the visiting Oakland Athletics.
@AkilBaddoo celebrating with the Taylor North Little League World Series Champions ahead of tonights matchup as the @tigers host the @Athletics under the lights at Comerica Park. pic.twitter.com/xSalSl03gU
— Brandon L. Carr (@Carrpediem21) August 31, 2021
Coming out of Georgia, the 23-year-old took an unconditional route to the Majors. The Minnesota Twins were so impressed witht he Salem High School graduate that they selected him in the second round of the 2016 Amateurs Draft. Baddoo spent the next four years bouncing from rookie league and Low-A ball before being selected by the Tigers in the MLB 2020 Rule 5 Draft.
On April 4 of the 2021 season, Baddoo planted his flag in the Motor City after teeing off on the first pitch he ever saw as a big leaguer, not to mention, it was Easter Sunday. The feat chiseled his name in stone as the ninth player in Tigers history to have his first professional hit be a home run.
Akil Baddoo hit the ground running with two homers in his first two career starts, including a grand slam on Monday. The unknown prospect has become an overnight sensation for the Detroit Tigers. @carrpediem21 is in the Three Spot today with A Bro You Need To Know. pic.twitter.com/wvxYGkLltT
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 6, 2021
If some are good, then more is better, as the following day, the young lefty launched a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning. The four-run moon shot came against the team that drafted him, the Twins, as mentioned earlier.
A week later, while in the land of the stars, Real Deal Akil’s fairytale start continued as he launched two more homers in back-to-back games against the Houston Astros; one of which was a 450-foot moonshot against former Cy Young pitcher Zach Greinke.
His meteoric rise matched fellow MLBbro Jazz Chisholm as two of three rookies to reach double digits in home runs and stolen bases. His first step quickness from home to first base is rivalved by few players, Shohei Ohtani being one of them.
After Baddoo’s hot start with the bat pitchers started passing around the book on him. Baddoo combined to hit one home run in May and June. Baddoo was still an asset however, because he leaned on his glove and agility in the outfield while he readjusted to the pitchers.
That readjustement came follwing the All-Star break.
The Midsummer Classic came at the right time for Real Deal Akil as he launched four home runs in the 10 games that followed, putting everyone on notice that his rookie of the year campaign is still in full effect.
Real Deal Akil stopped by MLB Central Monday morning to discuss his rookie season and the organization’s outlook as he is steadily becoming the face of the franchise. Since exploding onto the scene, Baddoo prepared differently to stay on top of his game.
He said, “Now I know what I need in my routine each and every day, so I kind of like implement that while I’m on the field and let my abilities take over.”
He mentioned that all the players have bought into manager A.J. Hinch and his philosophies on how winning each game can turn into winning each series to winning each month.
“Baseball is a game of failure. There’s going to be a lot of ups & downs, so just stay even keel and ride the wave and always have fun and don’t lose sight of that.”
Look for Real Deal Akil and his Detroit Tigers to stay afloat in the American League Central down the stretch as they’ll travel to Cincinnati to take on the Reds inside Great American Ballpark Friday night with first pitch set for 7:07 p.m.