Toledo Mudhens corner infielder Mike Hessman has hit another homer to extend his International League lead to 19, but the 30-year-old Tigers prospect appears hopelessly typecast as a perennial Triple A minor leaguer.
When Tigers manager Jim Leyland experimented with Gary Sheffield in left field, MLB rumors surfaced that the move would open a slot for Hessman at designated hitter. But Sheffield's inability to throw effectively curtailed any such consideration, and Hessman's next best hope appears to be limited to an expanded roster callup in September unless injuries require his elevation from the status of deep, deep reserve.
Hessman not only leads the International League in home runs, he is one just one homer shy of becoming the fastest player in league history to reach 20 home runs in a season. The record is held by former Mud Hen Marcus Thames, a one-time top Yankee prospect who finds himself gaining more and more playing time with the Tigers while Hessman languishes in Toledo.