May 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Tigers' Mike Hessman blasts 400th homer of minor-league career

Mike Hessman has hit 151 of his 400 minor-league homers with the Toledo Mud Hens. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)

Mike Hessman reached an impressive milestone Tuesday afternoon.

The big slugger for the Toledo Mud Hens hit his 400th career minor-league home run, a two-run shot against Rochester. That moved Hessman into a tie for fifth-place all-time in the minors, with Merv Connors, a former Tigers farmhand who played from 1934-53.

Hessman is 84 back of the all-time record, held by Hector Espino, who hit all his in the Mexican League from 1960-84.

For Hessman, 36, it's the 151st at Toledo, where he's played from 2005-09, and again this year.

The Tigers brought him back on a minor-league contract this offseason, wanting to give the Toledo fans a notable name to follow. On the season, he has 11 home runs and 21 RBIs through 40 games -- plus an inning of Tuesday's, which remains ongoing.

It's been an interesting career for Hessman, who is the prototypical 4-A player -- in other words, he's too good for Triple A, but not quite well-rounded enough to stick in the major leagues. That puts him in purgatory, of sorts.

He has had five "cups of coffee" in the major leagues, most recently with the Mets in 2010.

Hessman got call-ups from the Tigers in 2007 and '08, with nine home runs and 19 RBIs in 29 games.

He began his professional career with the Braves, who drafted him in the 15th round in 1996. They gave him call-ups in 2003 and '04.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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