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09/17/08 8:50 PM ET

Tigers evaluating young players

Joyce, Ryan and Larish getting big league opportunities

ARLINGTON -- Technically, they have spots on the Major League roster, but players like outfielder Matt Joyce, catcher Dusty Ryan and infielder Jeff Larish have not officially made the jump from prospect status to full-fledged big league player quite yet.

The final weeks of the season are important to the trio, because it gives them a chance to build a case for spots in the organization entering next Spring Training.

"I'm just trying to see if they have the capability of making adjustments and trying to project down the road what they would look like in a full season of Major League competition," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I think you also have to go on a track record. People get carried away when a guy comes up, and for a brief stint, he shows something. And that's wonderful and that's what we would like them to do, but at the same time, when a guy is hitting .250 in Double-A, that normally doesn't justify a promotion to the big leagues to play every day."

Joyce is hitting .269 and is sixth among American League rookies with 12 home runs. He hit .270 with 13 homers and 41 RBIs in 56 games for Triple-A Toledo. Larish is hitting .217 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 31 games for the Tigers. He hit .250 with 21 dingers and 64 RBIs at Toledo.

"I've never understood why people all of a sudden get carried away and they say this guy will do this or that. But based on what?" Leyland said. "What makes you think a guy that hit .250 in Double-A is going to come to the big leagues and hit .250? And since when is .250 such a great average?"

Ryan, who made his big league debut on Sept. 4, is hitting .267 entering Wednesday's action. He combined to hit .266 with 17 home runs, 63 RBIs and 58 runs scored in 102 games at Double-A and Triple-A.

"You don't want fans to think you are being negative, because I'm not, but I think you just have to let it play out and let nature take its course," Leyland said. "I think we are making a lot of progress with the young players that I really like. I want to emphasize that. But I'm not smart enough to tell you what Matt Joyce or Larish or Ryan will hit next year in the big leagues, if they are in the big leagues.

"I think we have to stay focused on the real task at hand, which is going to be for us to win and get where we want to be, it's going to be the [Magglio] Ordonezes, [Placido] Polancos, [Carlos] Guillens and the [Miguel] Cabreras," he added. "It's not going to be someone we sprinkle in right now. ... If the big boys don't do it, we are not going to the Promised Land, I can tell you that right now."

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.