DETROIT — The way Brennan Boesch is going, he’ll be playing next to the likes of Miguel Cabrera for a long, long time.

A rookie left fielder for the Detroit Tigers, the 25-year-old Santa Monica native made his move up to the big leagues in April. All he’s ever done since — in spite of his recent struggles at the plate — is prove he belongs.

“I always had faith I’d be here,” said Boesch, who has been regularly batting fifth in a lineup that also features stars like Cabrera, Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordoñez.

As of Monday, Boesch was batting .291 with 12 home runs and 51 RBI — all good for second among Major League Baseball rookies. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider the tall lefty has been mired in a 6-for-63 slump since the All-Star break.

Boesch, who was named American League Rookie of the Month both in May and June, has taken the ups and downs in stride.

“I haven’t been swinging the bat of late like I want to,” he said. “You just have to make sure you don’t get caught up in it.”

Of course, for someone who was playing minor-league ball this time last year, it’s been a mostly positive experience thus far, starting with his big league debut on April 23. Boesch had been called up from the Toledo Mud Hens, the Tigers’ triple-A affiliate, to replace the injured Carlos Guillen. On the first pitch of his first at-bat, Boesch hit a double off the left-field wall against the Texas Rangers’ Rich Harden.

“It was just a culmination to all the hard work I had put in,” Boesch said. “It was really a great feeling.”

The journey to arrive at this point started more than two decades ago. Boesch, who was born and raised in Santa Monica, began playing baseball at a young age, which led to a starring role at Harvard-Westlake High School. As a junior, he hit .466 with seven home runs and was named one of the top 25 prospects in the nation by Baseball America.

Former minor-league pitcher and baseball instructor Ken Medlock, who worked with Boesch before his career at Harvard-Westlake, said he saw the potential in his pupil early on.

“Other than the obvious being big, lefthanded, good speed and a live bat, he also had a passion for the game,” Medlock said. “That’s something you really have to have to accelerate in baseball.”

Boesch went on to play three years of college baseball at the University of California, where he earned first-team All-Pac 10 Conference honors as a sophomore. Following his junior season, he was drafted in the third round of the 2006 MLB Draft by Detroit.

After spending his first three years in the minors with various single-A clubs, Boesch debuted at the double-A level in 2009 with the Erie SeaWolves. It was that year that he truly caught the attention of the Tigers by leading the Eastern League with 28 home runs and finishing third with 93 RBI. This spring, he was batting an eye-popping .379 for Toledo when, after just 15 games, he was whisked away to baseball’s highest level of competition.

While Boesch has shown good power and a strong arm in the outfield — he was originally a pitcher before he switched to being a full-time hitter during high school — at the big-league level, he still admits he has a long way to go.

“I’m really still learning. I feel like there’s a lot more to my game that I have to offer,” he said. “Baseball’s a tough sport. You have to always strive to get better.”

It certainly doesn’t hurt that he has some of the league’s best talents playing alongside him, including Cabrera, who is currently contending for an AL Triple Crown title.

“It’s been a great opportunity for me to be around some of the best players in the game. With Miguel being the best hitter in the game, it’s been tremendous to watch,” Boesch said.

And as for that slump he’s currently stuck in? Boesch understands it’s a regular occurrence in baseball, a trend even the stars are prone to encountering from time to time.

“Being overly intense isn’t a good recipe for success in baseball because of how many games there are,” he said. “I really treat every at-bat like it’s my last, and that’s really got me to where I am.”

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