Tigers take a chance on Iorg
Son of former Major Leaguer picked 211th despite hiatus
The Tigers' first selection on Day 2 of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft scrolled across the screen and likely rose many eyebrows for several reasons.Garth Iorg, SS, 6'2", 175, no school. No, it's not the Garth Iorg who played nine years in the Majors in the 1980s with the Blue Jays. It's his son, Cale. And no, he's not a high school dropout. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Cale Iorg has spent the past two years in Portugal on a mission trip as part of his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Obviously, Cale wasn't stationed by a television or a computer during the Draft. So his father placed a phone call at around 12 p.m. on Friday when Cale was selected by the Tigers with the 211th pick of the Draft. "He's kind of away from the world right now," Garth said. "He doesn't know a lot of what's going on; pretty much all of the information he gets is second-hand." The youngest of Iorg's three sons, Cale hasn't played an official baseball game since he left for Portugal in July of 2005. He has instead spent his time helping out the locals in Portugal and hasn't seen his family in person since he left. He can e-mail his family about once a week, but has only spoken to them over the phone on special occasions, like Christmas and Mother's Day. Friday could be considered a special occasion though, as Cale was somewhat of a surprise pick, given his long hiatus from baseball. Garth doesn't seem concerned, however. After all, he has already seen two of his sons already make the transition. Iorg's oldest son, Isaac, spent two years in downtown Los Angeles, while middle son Eli spent two years in Argentina as part of their respective mission trips. Both were later drafted and played Minor League baseball. "It only took them about two or three weeks, and then they were right back in the swing of things," Garth said. Garth said Cale has stayed in shape over the past two years and has thrown a baseball, but hasn't swung a bat. His father says the Tigers shouldn't feel like they went out on a limb with the selection, however.
|27||Porcello, Frederick||Seton Hall Prep School||RHP|
|60||Hamilton, Joey||Stanhope Elmore HS||RHP|
|91||Worth, Daniel||Pepperdine U||SS|
|121||Putkonen, Luke||UNC Chapel Hill||RHP|
|151||Furbush, Charles||Louisiana St U||LHP|
|181||Crosby, Casey||Kaneland HS||LHP|
"If he hadn't went on his trip, I think he would have been one of the top picks," said Garth, who is a roving instructor for the Brewers and runs a baseball training facility in Knoxville, Tenn. "I don't mean to sound arrogant or anything like that, but he's just such a great athlete with a tremendous work ethic."Cale spent one year at the University of Alabama as a shortstop, where he hit .280 with 38 RBIs as a true freshman in 2005. A May 31, 2007, story in The Huntsville Times said he would likely return to the Tide when he returns from Portugal on July 14. Those plans will likely change though, as no one in the Iorg family could quite figure when and if Cale would be selected. "He didn't know how high of a pick he would be," Garth said. But the Tigers clearly saw high-quality character traits in Cale, much like his brothers before him. Isaac spent three years in the Minors from 2002-04, but is out of the game after he batted .254 in 230 career games. Eli was batting .296 in 44 games with the Class A Salem Avalanche this season but recently underwent Tommy John elbow surgery. "They're all just great kids," Garth said. "Whenever something bad happens to them in their life, they just always seem to overcome it. "[The Tigers] know that a guy like Cale isn't going to cause any problems within the organization and is going to be a hard worker."
Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.