THE PRESENT: The Tigers signed IF Mike Hessman to a minor-league contract as a six-year free agent.
THE PAST: Originally drafted by Atlanta in the 15th round of the 1996 draft, Hessman was a member of the Braves organization from 1996-2004. He spent 19 games with Atlanta in 2003 (.286 with two homers and three RBIs) and 29 games in the big leagues with the Braves in 2004 (.130 with two homers and five RBIs) before signing with Detroit as a minor-league free agent in 2005. Hessman helped the Mud Hens win Governors’ Cup titles in both 2005 (.214-28-74) and 2006 (.165-24-49) before winning the International League’s MVP award in 2007 by hitting .254 and leading the IL with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs. In 2008 Hessman hit .271 with 34 homers and 72 RBIs with Toledo to earn a spot on the IL post-season all-star team, and in 2009 he batted .217 with 23 homers and 77 RBIs with the Hens. Hessman also spent 17 games with Detroit in 2007 (.235-4-12) and 12 games with the Tigers in ’08 (.296-5-7). In 2010 Hessman signed with the New York Mets and spent much of the year with Buffalo before batting .127 with a homer and six RBIs in 32 games with the Mets. Hessman played in Japan in 2011, then played for Houston’s Triple-A team in Oklahoma City in 2012 (.231-35-78 in 123 games). Last year Hessman hit .240 with 25 homers and 56 RBIs with Louisville.
THE FUTURE: First, bear in mind that Hessman will turn 36 years old in March of 2014. Second, last season Hessman spent much more time at first base (103 games) than third base (five games), and his time at third has been limited in recent seasons. Having said that, any team that has Mike Hessman on the roster is better for it. If Hessman is on the Hens’ roster in 2014, that’s a good thing for the Mud Hens.
WORTH NOTING: Hessman will enter this season leading all active minor-leaguers in career home runs (389) and in RBIs (1,086). ... Last season the Mud Hens made Hessman the ice cream strikeout player of the game -- and paid the price. Click here to read the in-game blog (and see the photo) from that game. ... Here is a Blade feature on Hessman written last season.