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Cam Gibson: Like father, like son?

  • The Detroit Tigers drafted Cam Gibson, the son of former Tiger Kirk Gibson, in the fifth round.

Kirk Gibson's son is a Grosse Pointe South grad

DETROIT >> It’s akin to the urban legend of Sparky Anderson telling his brash, young Detroit Tigers outfielder, a former college football All-American, to line up across from him like they were on the line of scrimmage.

Needless to say, Kirk Gibson ran him over. Pancaked him.

Like father like son, really.

Before spending a draft pick on him, the Tigers invited Kirk’s son, Michigan State outfielder Cam Gibson, to last week’s tryout camp, and got just such a lesson in the famous family intensity.

“I spent probably two hours with him at the camp, and I knew in 15 minutes the level of his intensity,” said Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd, relating a story about Cam from the workout that helped clinch the decision to draft the younger Gibson in the fifth round Tuesday, 37 years after taking his father in the first round.

“At the workout he couldn’t throw, because he banged up his arm at (the end of the season). So he said ‘Is it OK if I shag balls in center field?’ I said ‘Cam, I want you to run those balls down, just like it’s a game situation, and I want to watch you react.’

“And he got right here (face-to-face), and said ‘You don’t have to tell me that.’ I get it.

“And then he ran off, and I’m like ‘Holy cow. Here we go.’”

It was one of two picks on the second day that got Chadd’s blood going, along with sixth-rounder Matt Hall of Missouri State.

“Love Cam Gibson. Let’s see — it’s a lot like Kirk Gibson. Very intense young man we think is going to be able to play center field. Left-handed bat. Came to our tryout camp, ran a 6.5 60(-yard dash). Some had him better than. So obviously, speed’s his tool, like his dad,” Chadd said.

“Just brings a level of intensity that I like to see, Scott (Pleis, the director of amateur scouting) likes to see. It’s going to make players around him better.

“He’s what we call a grinder. I think Cam Gibson is going to will his way and work his way to be an everyday MLB player. We’re certainly are happy with that pick.”

Gibson attended Grosse Pointe South High School, and was drafted in the 38th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012, when his father — the Waterford native — was manager there. He chose instead to follow his dad’s footsteps to Michigan State, where he hit .294 with 10 doubles and five home runs for the Spartans this year.

At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, the younger Gibson is not the imposing, hulking figure his father was, but Chadd does see some power in the bat.

“I think he’s going be a gap-to-gap guy, and I think he’s going to utilize his speed, which is his tool. Which is what he should do,” Chadd said.

But the part that puts Gibson over the top is the attitude, the intensity he clearly inherited honestly.

“First you identify the tools, then there’s the part we call makeup. There’s on-field makeup, off-field makeup, and it’s separate. His on-field makeup is certainly a lot like his father’s. It’s super-intense. You can tell he’s a winner. He’s driven. He wants to be the best player he can possibly be. You can see when he’s working out, taking fly balls in center, running the 60. ... He’s the first one leading everyone in the running drills. He’s the first one stretching. You can see the look on his face in the cage when he makes a poor swing. The level of intensity is high with this young man. Obviously it’s from his father,” Chadd said.

“Which for me, is a good thing. It’s a very good thing. It’s easier to dial guys down than it is to dial them up. He’s certainly a very driven young man.”

The Tigers asked Cam Gibson if he’d want to be drafted by the Tigers, and he said absolutely he would. He seemed genuinely excited when he tweeted “What a better place to play than my own backyard!!” after his selection.

But there will be expectations on him, simply because of his last name.

That’s not something the Tigers asked Gibson about, Chadd admitted.

“Cam made it on his own merit. I mean, he’s a good ballplayer. He’s got great makeup, a lot like his dad. He’s his own player. We like his ability, we like his tools, we like his makeup and his intensity and the way he goes about his game,” Pleis said. “Certainly it’s nice to have those bloodlines, but it’s all him.”

“I don’t think he’s worried about that, at all. I think the expectation probably labeled on him are unfair, to be like his dad. Those are unfair,” Chadd said. “But he’s his own man, like Scott said, he’s his own player, and I can’t wait to get him signed, get him out.”

Last Updated: 6/9/2015 9:36:25 PM EST