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Lebanese-American Making an Impact With the Tigers

posted on: May 10, 2017

DETROIT, MI – APRIL 11: Ian Kinsler #3 of the Detroit Tigers greets Mikie Mahtook #15 of the Detroit Tigers and JaCoby Jones #40 of the Detroit Tigers as they celebrate a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park on April 11, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

BY: David Demaria/Contributing Writer

Mikie Mahtook has been a Tiger since college. That’s because he played for the LSU (Louisiana State University) Tigers, where the outfielder of Lebanese descent led the SEC (South Eastern Conference) with a spectacular .425 batting average and a stellar on-base percentage of .538 during his junior year. The former first-team all-American was also a part of the 2009 LSU team that won the collegiate national championship, defeating University of Texas 2-1 in the three-game college world series.

The Louisiana native was drafted 31st overall in the 2011 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, and began his professional career in 2012 with the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League and was promoted to the Montgomery Biscuits of the Class AA Southern League. Mahtook had originally been drafted in the 39th round of 2008 MLB (Major League Baseball) draft before committing to play collegiately at LSU. It wasn’t until April 10th, 2015 that Mahtook made his Major League  debut with the Rays when he was called up from the Durham Bulls replacing the injured John Jaso. He made his first major league at bat that same day in a pinch-hit situation. 

Though he was sent down the minor leagues again, he was recalled by the Rays again on June 2nd of that same year. After spending two years playing with Tampa Bay, Mahtook was traded to Detroit where he once again became a Tiger.

So far this season, Mahtook has had 28 at bats to go along with 3 runs, 5 hits, 1 home run, and 3 runs batted in, and is batting .179 with an on-base percentage of .281. Though his stats are slightly underwhelming, Mahtook is capable of hitting for power, as he has homered 13 times over the course of his career, and if his college career was any indication, he’s certainly capable of getting on-base too. In his first season with Tampa Bay, he batted .295 with an on-base percentage of .351, tallying 22 runs on 31 hits to go along with 9 home runs and 19 runs batted over the course of 105 at bats. These much more impressive numbers are the reason why Tigers’ fans should be optimistic about Mahtook’s future. 

Mahtook has dealt with significant tragedy in his life, losing his father to a heart attack at the age of four. His dad, Michael Mahtook, was 32 years old when he passed away, but he was an inspiration for Mikie, having played college football at LSU. Mikie played football in high school as well, attending Lafayette’s St. Thomas More high school. Mahtook’s mother, Mary Ann had a battle with breast cancer during his first year in college. 

One thing is certain, whatever Mikie Mahtook does this season for the Tigers, he has the ability to become a great player in the majors. One of the few major leaguers of Arab descent has a chance to be a very special player. Now Mahtook just has to channel his success that he has had in college with the LSU Tigers and bring it to the Tigers of Detroit.