The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

May 14, 2006

Making the bigs

Granderson first player from Mankato Northwoods franchise in Major League Baseball

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s not so hot, and the grass is fake, but when Curtis Granderson walked up to the Metrodome plate as the Detroit Tigers’ leadoff hitter and center fielder last weekend, it looked familiar.

The open stance is the same, the hands held high, wobbling the bat to keep the wrists loose. The smooth, left-handed swing brings back memories, the baseball still jumps off of his bat.

Can it really be five years since Granderson was slapping baseballs around Franklin Rogers Park, helping the Mankato Mashers win games in the Northwoods League?

“That was the time I realized I could play with the big Division I players,” Granderson said. “I saw I could succeed, and that allowed me to get drafted. From that point on, I progressed with the program and did what I was supposed to do.”

In 2004, Granderson became the first player from Mankato’s Northwoods League franchise to reach the major leagues, and his improvement has been as steady as his play was in that summer of 2001. He batted .328 in 44 games, with eight doubles, two triples and a home run. He drove in 17 runs and scored 28, using his speed to steal 15 bases. He made no errors that season, a harbinger of professional career. He’s yet to make an error in 83 major league games.

After playing in Mankato, Granderson returned to the University of Illinois-Chicago, using his experience and confidence to put together a strong junior season, catching the eye of Detroit Tigers’ scouts. He had two strong seasons at Class A Oneida and Lakeland, then hit .303 at Class AA Erie in 2004.

Late in that season, he was called up to the Tigers, making his major league debut on Sept. 13 and playing in nine games. He didn’t make the major league team in spring training last season, spending most of the summer with Class AAA Toledo, where he batted .290. Again, he was called up during the season, this time playing in 47 games in two stints, batting .255 with four home runs and 10 RBIs.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
Outdoors

Latest auto racing news
Featured Ads
Live Moondogs coverage
Shane Frederick's Twitter updates
Chad Courrier's Sports Report
Latest NCAA basketball news
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
World Cup Hero Mario Gotze -- HALF-NAKED MUD BATH ... With Hot Model GF Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent First impressions of Giants' new up-tempo offense Athletic Gaines: Where LeSean McCoy, Kenjon Barner, and more prepare for NFL season Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen Resigns Control Sterling says he's not trying to block Clippers sale Jack White's Cub Face Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Eli, Giants learning new offense How Emmanuel Mudiay Ended Up in China Selig: MLB 'more popular today than ever' Boy With Life-Threatening Tumor Gets Wish To Visit PNC Park, Meet Cutch Longhorns Coach Disses Texas With Compliment - @TheBuzzeronFOX James Rodriguez Joins Real Madrid Kluwe: How can Tony Dungy advocate felons, not Michael Sam Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Bowlsby talks cheating in NCAA Clay Travis On Mettenberger Punch & "Dumbest Fanbase" - @TheBuzzeronFOX Morosi: Lee could be a tough sell Dareus fails conditioning test, Watkins lifts spirits