MiLB 4/26 Week Review: Verlander Powers LFT

Week three in the minors wasn’t a great one, as the four full-season affiliates either struggled to score, or failed to keep their opponents in check en route to a combined 8-17 record. There was some good news, however, as three prominent prospects made their return from the disabled list, and an outfielder in Lakeland with a familiar surname may have begun to establish his own identity.

AAA Toledo Mud Hens
8-8, 3rd in West Division

The Mud Hens played at home for all six of their games last week, but they didn't give the fans in Toledo much to smile about. Buck Farmer was credited with wins on Tuesday and Sunday, but the team lost the four games in between. Farmer’s Sunday outing was a gem, though, as he went six scoreless innings, surrendering only two hits, walking four, and striking out seven. The Hens began the week with a 13-run explosion, but scored just 11 runs combined in the next four games, and in the process they slipped from first place to third place in the West Division.

  • Steven Moya made his Mud Hens debut last week, going 0-for-7 with one walk and two strikeouts in two games.

  • Shortstop Dixon Machado cooled off considerably last week, and is in the midst of an 0-for-18 skid that has dropped his batting average 100 points.

  • Daniel Fields did not play on Saturday or Sunday, but he is still among the league leaders in runs scored, triples, slugging percentage, and batting average.

AA Erie Seawolves
6-10, 5th in Western Division

The SeaWolves had the worst week of any team in the system, dropping all five of their games as part of a six-game skid that has seen them fall from first place to fifth place in the Western Division. The pitching wasn’t stellar, but the bats were the real culprit, as Erie managed to score just 11 runs in their five losses. Dean Green has been a catalyst for the offense early in the season, but he played just one game last week before heading to the DL, and no one was able to fill the void, as Jeff McVaney and Corey Jones both saw their batting averages drop more than 80 points during the week.

  • Starter Austin Kubitza has only one win, but his 1.20 ERA is good for 9th in the Eastern League, and his 73% groundball rate is tied for third in all of baseball.

  • Center fielder Wynton Bernard has hit safely in six consecutive games, raising his average from .158 to .270 in a week’s time.

  • Relievers Brennan and Slade Smith both sport ERAs above 12, with the duo combining to surrender 23 earned runs in just 14 1/3 innings.

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
7-11, 6th in North Division

It hasn't been a great start to the season for Lakeland, but the Flying Tigers had the best week in the system, going 4-3 to record their first winning week of the year. It didn't hurt to have Steven Moya anchoring the lineup for most of the week, as the big slugger went 6-for-16 with two homers and six RBI's in his five games with the club. He wasn't the only hitter making noise, however, as first baseman Dominic Ficociello went 11-for-24, and Justin Verlander’s brother Ben may have had his best week as a pro, going 9-for-17 with two homers and five RBI's. The pitchers chipped in too, with Kevin Ziomek, Ryan Longstreth, and Tommy Collier all providing quality starts, and Zac Reininger, Calvin Drummond, Joe Rogers, and Confesor Lara all pitching well out of the bullpen.

  • Ben Verlander has an eight-game hitting streak going, during which time he has raised his batting average from .167 to .385.

  • Reininger and Rogers have now combined for 17 scoreless innings of relief, and Lara has struck out 38% of opposing batters.

  • Middle infielder Curt Powell is also in the middle of an eight-game hitting streak, and his .353 average ranks second in the Florida State League.

A West Michigan Whitecaps
8-10, T6th in Eastern Division

The Whitecaps couldn’t get much going last week, getting outscored 38-21 in their seven games, and finishing the week with three consecutive losses, including tough one-run affairs on Saturday and Sunday. Ross Seaton and Spencer Turnbull provided solid starts in the team’s two wins, but Jeff Thompson, Fernando Perez, and A.J. Ladwig all had rough outings, and the bullpen couldn’t hold onto the lead on two other occasions. Perhaps the best news of the week was the returns of young reliever Joe Jimenez, who missed about a week with back spasms, and speedy outfielder Derek Hill, who was out for most of the past two weeks.

  • Hill made his presence known in his return, doubling, stealing two bases, and scoring a run. He now has four steals in five games.

  • Outfielder Michael Gerber is batting .323 after a solid, 9-for-27 week, and his 21 hits are good for 5th in the Midwest League.

  • Joey Pankake began the year 0-for-11, but went 8-for-30 last week, and has now reached base safely in 17 consecutive games.

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