Transaction Blog: Corey Knebel Called Up

After the game on Thursday, the Tigers optioned Robbie Ray to Toledo and will call up right-hander Corey Knebel to fill the vacant slot in the bullpen. The Tigers also outrighted the contract of Francisco Martinez to Erie to make room on the 40-man roster.

May 22 5:00 PM

Optioned Robbie Ray (LHP) to Toledo

Purchased contract of Corey Knebel (RHP) from Toledo and placed on active roster

Outrighted contract of Francisco Martinez (3B) to Erie


As expected, Ray's brief cameo with the Tigers comes to an end as there's no longer a need for another starting pitcher. Ray showed well in his first two starts against mediocre offenses, but clearly struggled on Thursday against the Rangers. Ray remains an impressive prospect, but needs improvement on his curveball to be effective on days when his fastball command is off, like Thursday. He'll be able to work on that more extensively in Toledo than he could have in the Detroit bullpen.

Meanwhile, the Knebel era starts in Detroit, less than one year after he was drafted as a compensatory first rounder last June. Knebel made quick work of Double-A hitters in Erie (1.20 ERA, 23 K's and 8 BB's in 15 innings) and Toledo didn't prove to be any greater of a challenge (four shutout innings with four strikeouts). Knebel possesses two Major League-ready pitches in a mid 90's fastball and a power curveball. He still battles his command at times, in addition to some finer points of pitching, but with the only alternatives not possessing nearly the same stuff that Knebel does, the move makes sense, even if Knebel might not be fully ready.

To open a spot on the 40-man roster, the Tigers will have to designate someone for assignment, with that announcement expected on Friday.

For the latest transactions and to discuss them further, make sure to check out the minor league movement thread on the TigsTown Premium Forum: 2014 Signings/Movement Thread

May 21 4:00 PM

Transferred Eugenio Suarez (SS) to Toledo from Erie

Transferred Dixon Machado (SS) to Erie from Lakeland

Assigned Harold Castro (2B) to Lakeland from extended spring training


Suarez had been hitting so well in Erie (.284 average, .850 OPS), a bump up to Toledo has clearly been earned and does provide a bit more challenge for him. But part of the catalyst of the move was the injury to Brandon Douglas, leaving the Mud Hens with only two middle infielders.

It also will mean that the Hernan Perez-to-shortstop experiment is coming to an end. The Tigers were hopeful that Perez, who is a bit more advanced especially with the bat, could take to the left side of the infield and offer another internal alternative. But Perez has never taken to short, and informed observers who watched him in Toledo said he still didn't appear comfortable.

Machado meanwhile finally gets the challenge of being bumped up to Erie, despite hitting just .211 in May in Lakeland. It's a big jump for Machado, who has always been impressive with the glove, but will need to show more at the plate to elevate his projected future as a limited use utility player. Castro, less than a week after heading to EST, returns to full-season ball at a higher level, again due to the limited number of available middle infielders in the organization right now.

May 18 12:00 PM

Activated Anibal Sanchez (RHP) from Detroit's 15-day disabled list

Optioned Justin Miller (RHP) to Toledo

Placed Brandon Douglas (2B) on Toledo's 7-day disabled list

Placed Casey Crosby (LHP) on Toledo's 7-day disabled list

Activated Devon Travis (2B) from Erie's 7-day disabled list

Activated Edgar de la Rosa (RHP) from Lakeland's 7-day disabled list

Transferred Chase Edwards (RHP) to extended spring training from Lakeland


Some notable activations from the disabled list, with Sanchez, Travis and de la Rosa all coming off the disabled list. Especially good news for Travis, after missing over a month of action with a hamstring injury.

May 17 9:00 AM

Placed Daniel Fields (OF) on Toledo's 7-day disabled list with broken right hand

Transferred Wade Gaynor (OF) to Toledo from Erie

Activated Ezequiel Carrera (OF) from Toledo's 7-day disabled list

Activated Casey Crosby (LHP) from Toledo's 7-day disabled list

Released Jhan Marinez (RHP)

Released Nate Robertson (LHP)


The Fields injury comes at a rough time, as he took a pitch off the hand that will sideline him for the next four to six weeks. Fields had been off to a very slow start, hitting .169 in April, but had turned things up in the first couple weeks of May, with an .802 OPS for the month. Gaynor, the Tigers third round pick back in 2009, is no longer considered a highly-regarded prospect, but was off to a very hot start in Erie, with 17 extra base hits in just 82 at-bats.

Meanwhile, the Tigers parted ways with a pair of bullpen arms as they granted releases to Robertson and Marinez. While there was some optimism that either could potentially help out the Tigers in a relief role, but both struggled in Triple-A, with Marinez posting an ERA of almost nine, and Robertson walking more than he struck out. Carrera's return will mitigate the loss of Fields as well, while Crosby returns to the bullpen to try and work on adjusting to life as a reliever.

May 16 3:00 PM

Transferred Harold Castro (2B) to extended spring training from West Michigan

Assigned Francisco Contreras (3B) to West Michigan from extended spring training

Activated Jade Todd (LHP) from Lakeland's 7-day disabled list

Activated Jared Reaves (SS) from Lakeland's 7-day disabled list

Assigned Chase Edwards (RHP) to Lakeland from extended spring training

Transferred Johnnie Kirkland (RHP) to extended spring training from Lakeland

Transferred Chris Taladay (C ) to extended spring training from Lakeland

Transferred David Gonzalez (SS) to extended spring training from Lakeland


The noteworthy news is that the Tigers sent Castro, a highly-regarded prospect, back to extended spring from West Michigan. He wasn't performing all that well (.250 average, .623 OPS) but wasn't completely overmatched at the level, either. However, with Javier Betancourt and Willy Adames both also on the roster and clamoring for more playing time, there was clearly not enough at-bats for a group of priority middle infielders, and it made sense to move one out. The fact that it was Castro might be an indicator that, along with what Mark Anderson hinted at in last week's Roundtable about prospects to be concerned about, that concerns about Castro are becoming more prevalent.

On Contreras, Senior Lakeland Correspondent James Chipman has seen him twice, and here's what he had to say: Perhaps a tad larger than his listed size of 6' 1" 180 pounds; body doesn't appear completely maxed out either. Contreras moves well on the basepaths--I specifically remember a well barreled double that he turned into a triple and some heads up effort going first-to-third on a separate occasion. Both his approach and knowledge of the strike zone appeared encouraging. Unfortunately for me, both times I observe him he was DHing, so I have yet to evaluate his defensive play.

Meanwhile the juggling in Lakeland was largely driven by accommodating the return of Todd and Reaves from the disabled list. As is traditionally the case, for shorter-term injuries, the organization will keep the Whitecaps roster intact and shuttle assistance from extended spring across the runway to help out the Flying Tigers (for those that aren't aware, Joker Marchant Stadium is built on a former pilot training facility where thousands of US and British Army/Air Force pilots were trained, with the barracks now the dorm rooms and airplane hangars now batting cages. The main runway divides the stadium from the back fields.)

May 13 10:00 PM

Signed Troy Hanzawa (SS) and assigned to Toledo

Transferred Marcus Lemon (IF) to Erie from Toledo

Placed Ezequiel Carrera (OF) on Toledo's 7-day disabled list retroactive to 5/8

Placed Brandon Loy (SS) on Erie's 7-day disabled list

Transferred Guido Knudson (RHP) to Erie from Lakeland

Assigned Ryan Longstreth (LHP) to Lakeland from extended spring training

Transferred Pat Leyland (1B/C) to West Michigan from Lakeland

Placed Brett Harrison (3B) on West Michigan's 7-day disabled list with a strained rotator cuff


Much of the movement here was brought about by the need to challenge Knebel at Triple-A, and the horrific injury suffered by Loy. Knebel was dominating Eastern League hitters, but he still has more room for growth before he's ready for a big league challenge, so the International League may provide stiffer competition, where hitters are usually more experienced and can make Knebel work more to get outs, rather than relying on pure stuff. The Knebel promotion caused the move of Knudson, who has had a good start to 2014, along with the assignment of Longstreth to Lakeland.

Loy meanwhile suffered what is sure to be a season-ending injury with multiple fractures in his leg and ankle that required immediate surgery. The organization, already short on middle infielders, moved Lemon back to Erie to take over second base there, and signed Hanzawa to help provide relief off the bench for the Hens.

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