8/26/2014 7:35 P.M. ET
Jeter: 'I've always told people I'm from Michigan'
By Matt Slovin / MLB.com
DETROIT -- On a fall Michigan afternoon in 1991, Derek Jeter stood wide-eyed amongst a crowd of greater than 100,000.
In Ann Arbor, at the Big House, Jeter realized there was somewhere else he could envision himself besides the infield dirt at the corner of East 161st and River Avenue in the Bronx. Perhaps at one of the parties he recalls visiting on that recruiting trip to the University of Michigan, he pictured himself as a Michigan Man -- and loved what he saw.
Boyhood dreams are limitless, though, and few have just one. Jeter, then 17, was no different. We all know which iteration of his dream he chose when the Yankees selected him with their sixth pick in the 1992 First-Year Player Draft.
Jeter is in Detroit this week to play his final regular-season series in his home state. Though the ballpark Jeter grew up visiting, like the one he grew up dreaming of playing in in New York, has been demolished within the past few years, visits to Detroit still have special meaning for him.
"I've always enjoyed coming here," Jeter said before Tuesday's game. "It brings back memories of … Tiger Stadium."
Jeter's ties to Michigan didn't end when he signed his pro contract with New York, and he never stopped considering himself a Wolverine. Though he didn't head to Ann Arbor to play for then-Michigan coach Bill Freehan as the plan had called for, he did enroll in the fall of 1992 and took a semester's worth of classes before turning his attention fully to his budding baseball career.
"You weigh pros and cons," Jeter said Tuesday of the decision he had to make. "You weigh the opportunity. … I wanted to get my career underway. This is the team that I wanted to play for. I think I made the right decision."
Jeter grew up in Kalamazoo, Mich., slightly over two hours due west of Detroit. Asked if he considers himself a Michigander, Jeter responded, "Of course."
"People ask where I'm from. I was born in New Jersey but I grew up in Michigan," Jeter said. "I've always told people I'm from Michigan."
The shortstop holds his home in such high regard that his least favorite memory of it didn't even occur in Michigan territory. Shockingly, it isn't either of New York's two American League Division Series losses to the Tigers since 2006.
Instead, it came in 1995, when he barely missed his first chance of playing in Detroit. Jeter was abruptly demoted to Triple-A right before the Yankees departed on the trip.
"There was a lot of family and friends that had to change their plans," Jeter said.
His best memory of baseball in Detroit might still be ahead of him. It could come before Wednesday's game, when he's honored in a pregame ceremony -- likely the first time Tigers fans will treat Jeter like one of their own.
"Sometimes, when I come here, I'm a sellout or I should be playing for the Tigers," Jeter said of Detroit fans' reaction to him over the years. "It wasn't my choice. I was drafted by the Yankees.
"[But] they have a respect, because this is where I grew up."
Seven Tigers prospects, plus skipper Parrish, to AFL
DETROIT -- Eight members of the Tigers' organization, including Triple-A Toledo manager Larry Parrish, will join the Glendale Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League for the upcoming season, the league announced Tuesday.
Three of the Tigers' Top 20 prospects will be headed to Glendale: infielder Devon Travis (No. 4), outfielder Steven Moya (No. 7) and pitcher Drew VerHagen (No. 14),
Additional hurlers in Glendale will be Zac Reininger, Joe Mantiply and Chad Smith, while outfielder Daniel Fields rounds out the affiliated Tigers playing in the Arizona Fall League.
The 6-foot-6 Moya has translated his athleticism and raw strength into a record-setting season at Double-A Erie, with 34 home runs and 102 RBIs to go with a .276 batting average and .861 OPS. He earned a spot in the starting lineup for the All-Star Futures Game last month.
Moya also has struck out 152 times in 127 games against just 20 walks. An AFL stint will allow him to get more at-bats against advanced pitching to work on staying disciplined at the plate.
Travis, a high-rising prospect up the Tigers' rankings last year in his first full pro season, got off to a slow start and missed time due to a strained pectoral muscle. He turned up his hitting since his return and all but erased the early-season struggles, entering Tuesday with a .296 average, 10 home runs, 46 RBIs and an .811 OPS in 94 games.
VerHagen earned a callup for a spot start in Detroit after a strong first half at Triple-A Toledo, posting a 3.67 ERA to go with a 6-7 record before a stress fracture in his lower back ended his Minor League season in late July.
Likewise, Fields will try to make up for lost time in the AFL after a broken hand cost him a month and a half. The athletic 23-year-old has struggled at the plate since his return, resulting in a .221 average and .616 OPS across three levels. Fields was slated to play in the AFL last year before an injured wrist forced him to spend his offseason rehabbing.
• Eligible to come off the disabled list, Tigers reliever Joakim Soria threw a bullpen session Tuesday as he continues to rehab a strained oblique.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.