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Rookie Scivicque catching on quickly at West Michigan

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Rookie Scivicque catching on quickly at West Michigan

Two more doubles Saturday night. As if that was any big deal in the world of Kade Scivicque.

In his first summer of professional baseball, Scivicque, a Tigers fourth-round draft pick in June, entered Sunday with a fat .463 slugging percentage and an equally robust .368 on-base average, which is how a 22-year-old, right-handed batting catcher had racked up an .803 OPS in 41 games since leaving Louisiana State and beginning farm life with Detroit.

“After coming out of college, even if it’s a good Division 1 program, most of these guys, the game can be a little quick for them,” said Andrew Graham, manager at Single A West Michigan, where Scivicque has been playing for the past month after being promoted from Single A Connecticut. “But Kade has hit pretty consistently since he got here.”

Scivicque (pronounced: SIH-vick) is 22, stands 5-foot-11, and weighs 223 pounds, which Graham acknowledges is probably this catcher’s weight limit. The Tigers signed him for $200,000 and have watched as his primary asset, his bat, has explained why he was an early-round grab.

“He’s a gap hitter with flashes of power,” said Graham, himself a one-time Tigers catching prospect after he signed out of Australia. “He’s got a bat that stays through the zone, which is why he can hit to all fields. His weakness is that he pulls off pitches in all counts. But if it happens, he tends to makes adjustments in his next at-bat. He’ll hit a fastball to right-center or stay on the breaking ball and pull it down the line.

“He’s a strong kid with a good bat path.”

Scivicque is batting .314, with four home runs and seven doubles in his 41 games. Behind the plate, he has work to do. And it’s getting done.

“Defensively, he’s just below average, but everything is close to being there,” Graham said. “He’s got a catcher’s body right now, although you wouldn’t want him to get too much bigger in order to keep that agility.

“He blocks well, defensively. And what you like about Kade is that, from the time he got here, any little thing he might have been doing, if it was wrong, he made adjustments like that. He had a couple of flaws in his throwing mechanics that we were able to improve right away. He’s a sponge. He makes adjustments very quickly.”

Scivicque is a native of southwest Louisiana, Cajun country, as his surname might imply. He grew up in Maurepas, La., a town with no stop lights, and played two years at Southwest Mississippi Community College before transferring to LSU.

Scivicque wasn’t drafted as a junior. But he was projected to be a pick in 2015, and was, thanks to a senior season that saw him hit .347, with six home runs and 20 doubles in 57 games for a Tigers team that made it to the NCAA World Series.

“I’ve had a lot of kids from schools like LSU and Alabama,” Graham said, speaking of SEC Conference programs that tend to feature more elite talent. “And some come in with a good bat and continue to grow and move, while for others it might take all year.

“What I like about Kade is that he’s come in and hit, but he’s really worked on all the areas that needed to get better, like game-calling. He had never called a pitch in college. His pitching coach always called pitches.

“So he’s learning that particular skill. And what I like about him is, he’ll listen. He’ll come in at the end of an inning and say: ‘What do you think about that particular pitch?’ And I’ll give him insight, or our pitching coach, Mark (Johnson) will point something out, and he takes it all in.”

In a big-league game typically starved for catchers, it’s important development, Scivicque’s progress during some first, often-difficult days in pro ball.

Then again, if one can learn how to spell and pronounce Scivicque’s name, baseball’s challenges perhaps become relative.


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