Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review
We are now a week-and-a-half into the minor league season, and after 10+ games some patterns are beginning to emerge for each of Tigers four full-season affiliates. P>
Things are looking good at the upper levels, where the Mud Hens lead their division thanks to some strong hitting from their prospect-laden roster. Sunday’s game was rained out, but the Hens went 3-3 last week, including a split of Toledo’s opening-day doubleheader. Shortstop Dixon Machado (9-for-23 this week) and center fielder Daniel Fields (9-for-21) have done an excellent job of setting the table, and third baseman Jefry Marte has been knocking them in with regularity. On the pitching side, Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan have both turned in a pair of excellent starts, and Alex Wilson has been flawless working out of the bullpen.
Erie can’t boast the same collection of prospects as the Mud Hens, but the SeaWolves also had a good week thanks to some healthy offensive production from their veteran hitters. The Wolves shook off a rough 1-5 start to the year to go on a five-game winning streak last week, jumping from last place in the division to a half game out of first. Erie boasts the Eastern League’s highest team batting average (.282) thanks to the heroics of Dean Green, Corey Jones, Jeff McVaney, and Brendan Harris. Pitching has been another story, but the squad received solid starts last week from Jeff Ferrell, Derek Hankins, Austin Kubitza, and Josh Turley.
The Flying Tigers won their game on Sunday, but that ended a six-game losing skid that saw them fall to last place in the Florida State League. Team pitching hasn’t been particularly great, but a lack of offense was the main culprit for the rough week. The Flying Tigers are last in the league in most offensive categories, their lineup consists of five regulars currently hitting under .200, and in a four-game stretch to begin the week they managed to score only a single run. Even four starts from a rehabbing Steven Moya couldn’t help kickstart the offense, as the big man went 5-for-20 with 9 Ks. Tommy Collier has been a bright spot in the rotation, while relievers Zac Reininger and Joe Rogers have combined to pitch 13 scoreless innings.
The Whitecaps also had a rough week, though their troubles come in the form of injuries rather than on-field performance. News broke at the beginning of the week that outfielder Derek Hill and pitchers Artie Lewicki and Adam Ravenelle were all headed to the DL, and then on Friday night promising young reliever Joe Jimenez was able to pitch to only one batter before exiting the game with an arm injury. On the field the team performed well, going 4-3 on the week thanks to a balanced offensive attack and solid pitching performances from starters Ross Seaton, A.J. Ladwig, and Trent Szkutnik, and relievers Johan Belisario, Gabe Hemmer, and Gabe Speier.
AAA Toledo Mud Hens
6-4, 1st in West Division
- The Hens aren’t hitting a ton of balls over the wall, but they lead the International League in doubles with 25.
- Buck Farmer’s 0.90 ERA is good for 6th among starters in the IL, and his 14 Ks ranks third.
- Machado ranks 4th in the league with 15 hits, while Fields’ 21 total bases is good for 6th.
AA Erie Seawolves
6-5, 2nd in Western Division
- Dean Green has a seven-game hitting streak going, and last week he went 12-for-22 with two HRs, three walks, and no strikeouts.
- Center fielder Wynton Bernard has begun the year slowly, but in the last four games he’s 6-for-20 with a HR, four RBIs, and three steals.
- The SeaWolves pitching staff has the 3rd worst ERA in the Eastern League, and they have surrendered the most hits, walks, and home runs in the league.
A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
3-8, 6th in North Division
- Outfielder Ben Verlander struggled mightily in West Michigan last year, but he’s off to a solid 6-for-22 start in Lakeland.
- Second baseman Javier Betancourt had a particularly rough week, going just 3-for-29 and striking out five times.
- Lakeland’s 17-inning loss on Friday night took just under five hours to play.
A West Michigan Whitecaps
6-5, T3rd in Eastern Division
- First baseman Will Maddox’s 15 hits are good for second in the Midwest League, and his .405 batting average ranks fifth.
- Zach Shepherd launched a three-run homer over the left field scoreboard on Sunday, the first home run for the Whitecaps this year.
- Speier, the young lefty acquired from Boston in the Rick Porcello trade, has begun his career in the organization with six scoreless innings of relief.