Transaction Blog: Chad Smith Gets the Callup

Chad Smith is the latest minor leaguer to get called upon to come to Detroit to try and help settle the club's tumultuous bullpen. Plus, Angel Nesbitt gets a challenge and Grayson Greiner becomes the first draft pick to head to a full-season club.

June 15 12:00 PM

Purchased contract of Chad Smith (RHP) from Toledo and placed him on Detroit's 25-man roster

Designated Evan Reed (RHP) for assignment

Transferred Bryan Augenstein (RHP) to Toledo from Erie

Transferred Angel Nesbitt (RHP) to Erie from Lakeland

Released Eduardo Sanchez (RHP)

Transferred Ben Verlander (OF) to Connecticut from West Michigan

Assigned Grayson Greiner (C ) to West Michigan


The latest attempt to a bullpen solution is the call-up of former 17th rounder Chad Smith, who was dominating across stops in Erie and Toledo. He posted a 1.80 ERA across the two clubs, including 33 strikeouts in 35 innings. He doesn't have the same ceiling as Knebel, but has also displayed better command so far this year, which might make him more successful against big league hitters in the short term.

The decision to part with Reed was stated to be purely about his on-field performance, but obviously questions remain about potential criminal charges against him in an alleged sexual assault case from earlier this year.

Elsewhere, the Tigers challenged Nesbitt with a bump up to Double-A Erie after dominating in Lakeland. He's a pitcher that has seen his stuff take a clear step forward this spring and will be one to watch to see if he maintains it. Meanwhile, after a tough start, Justin's younger brother Ben will return to Connecticut, and third rounder Greiner will join the ‘Caps as the club's other catcher.

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

June 15 12:00 PM

Optioned Corey Knebel (RHP) to Toledo

Purchased contract of Blaine Hardy (LHP) from Toledo and placed him on Detroit's 25-man roster

Placed Tim Remes (C ) on West Michigan's 7-day disabled list with a concussion

Activated Patrick Leyland (1B) from West Michigan's 7-day disabled list


After making it from college to the show in less than a year, it was a rough go of it for Knebel, as he posted a 6.75 ERA in six appearances. The good news for the Tigers and Knebel is that he was still able to generate swings-and-misses, with a 10.8 K/9 rate and 7% whiff rate. The bad news is that he doesn't have the fastball command yet to consistently get outs. He'll head down to Toledo to work on the refinement of his game.

Hardy meanwhile comes up for his big league debut, after posting a 2.68 ERA across 20 appearances for the Mud Hens. Hardy has a fastball that sits around 90 to go with a good curveball and usable changeup. Hardy has never been considered a top prospect, but pitched well enough as a starter last year to warrant being sent to the Arizona Fall League. It was long assumed that if Hardy came up, it'd be to replace embattled reliever Phil Coke, but for now, it's Knebel.

June 11 3:00 PM

Acquired Manny Pina (C ) from Seattle in exchange for a player to be named later

Released Luis Exposito (C )

Activated Robbie Ray (LHP) from Toledo's 7-day disabled list

Placed Eduardo Sanchez (RHP) on Lakeland's temporary inactive list

June 4 3:00 PM

Recalled Eugenio Suarez (SS) from Toledo

Designated Danny Worth (IF) for assignment

Activated Brandon Douglas (2B) from Toledo's 7-day disabled list

Released Troy Hanzawa (SS)

Transferred Eduardo Sanchez (RHP) to Lakeland from Toledo

Placed Robbie Ray (LHP) on Toledo's 7-day disabled list retroactive to 6/2 with blister on finger of throwing hand

Transferred Tanner Bailey (RHP) to extended spring training from Lakeland

May 28 3:00 PM

Placed Tyler Gibson (OF) on West Michigan's 7-day disabled list with a broken bone in his right hand

Placed Patrick Leyland (1B) on West Michigan's 7-day disabled list with right hamstring spasms

Activated Tyler Schotts (OF) from West Michigan's 7-day disabled list

Transferred Jeff Holm (1B/OF) to West Michigan from Lakeland


After a disappointing 2013, things appeared to be getting on track a bit for Gibson, so this injury comes at a particularly difficult time, as the broken bone in his hand will leave him sidelined for at least a month. On the upside, the Whitecaps do get Schotts back from his hamstring strain, leaving them short-handed as they've basically been since the beginning of the year, but not completely without two of their most talented outfield prospects.

With the loss of Leyland as well, the Tigers have given the ‘Caps offense a boost by sending Holm back to West Michigan, where he had a very productive 2013 but was hitting just .215 with a .674 OPS.

May 24 2:00 PM

Activated Bryan Augenstein (RHP) from Erie's 7-day disabled list

Placed Brennan Smith (RHP) on Erie's temporary inactive list

Alex Burgos (LHP) and Ryan Longstreth (LHP) were swapped from Lakeland with Daryl Norris (RHP) and Joe Jimenez (RHP) to extended spring training, and swapped back three days later

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.

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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