MiLB 5/3 Week Review: Gerber Hot for 'Caps

The minor league season is nearly a month old, but the past week was one to forget for the Tigers affiliates, as the four teams combined for an ugly 6-18 record. The week saw an extended losing streak continue to grow and a number of painful losses, but a handful of outfielders put up very solid individual performances, and one affiliate received a visit from a Tigers legend.

AAA Toledo Mud Hens
10-13, 3rd in West Division

The Mud Hens had their second consecutive tough week, winning just two of their seven games, and getting outscored 28-2 in three losses over the weekend. There were some solid individual performances last week, however. Center fielder Daniel Fields had another terrific week, going 10-for-23 and walking six times, while fellow outfielder Xavier Avery went 8-for-19 with two walks and three runs scored. The Hens got a couple of nice starts from Tim Melville and Mike Belfiore, but no one in their starting rotation has an ERA under 4.10, and only relievers Josh Zeid, Alberto Cabrera, and Ian Krol sport an ERA under 3.

  • Buck Farmer has proven to be something of an enigma in his five starts this year, surrendering one run of fewer in three outings, while giving up five and six runs in his other two starts.

  • Reliever Rafael Dolis has given up 11 hits, 14 walks, and 10 earned runs in just 8 2/3 innings so far.

  • Coming into this season, Fields had never walked more than twice in any game. In the past 10 days he has a three-walk game, and a four-walk game.

AA Erie Seawolves
6-16, 5th in Western Division

It was an absolutely brutal week for the SeaWolves, as they lost all six games they played and extended their losing streak to 12 games, their worst skid since 2008. The losses on Friday and Saturday were particularly tough to swallow. The offense mustered only one hit against top prospect Tyler Glasnow and a trio of relievers on Friday, spoiling Austin Kubitza’s two-run complete game, and on Saturday Erie took a 3-2 lead into the 9th inning, only to lose 5-3 after a 3-run walk-off homer from Josh Bell. Remarkably, the SeaWolves still aren't in last place in the Western Division, because the Richmond Flying Squirrels are just 3-17 on the year, and they happen to be in the midst of a 15-game losing streak of their own. In one bit of good news, designated hitter Dean Green returned to the lineup on Friday after missing the previous seven games.

  • Center fielder Wynton Bernard’s seven stolen bases are third best in the Eastern League, but he wasn’t quite as quick a few years ago when he was on Family Feud.

  • Erie’s team ERA of 5.60 is the worst in the league by a fairly wide margin, and is more than three runs higher than league leader Altoona.

  • Relievers Joe Rogers and Zac Reininger were promoted to Erie after combining for 21 scoreless innings in Lakeland. They both debuted on Sunday, surrendering 4 earned runs in two innings.

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
9-14, 6th in North Division

Like the other three teams in the system, the Flying Tigers were unable to win more than two games last week, although they have a bit of an excuse, as they only played five times. They came very close to winning last Monday, tying their game at 2 in the 9th on an RBI-single from Javier Betancourt, but they eventually fell 4-2 in 13 innings. Ryan Longstreth, Locke St. John, and Jonathan Maciel all provided solid starts during the week, but 2013 2nd-round pick Kevin Ziomek had a very rough outing, surrendering 7 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. On the offensive side, outfielders Jiwan James (6-for-18, 3 walks) and Ben Verlander (6-for-20, 2 walks) had solid weeks, while infielder Betancourt broke out of a slump with a 7-for-25 week that included a four-hit game.

  • Verlander’s second consecutive solid week has him among the league leaders in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

  • Reininger and Rogers moved up to Erie, and reliever Confesor Lara may not be far behind. He made a scoreless appearance last week, lowering his ERA to 1.46, and he has 17 strikeouts against just 3 walks in 12 1/3 innings.

  • Catcher Grayson Greiner has struggled mightily this season, hitting just .143 with 20 strikeouts and only two extra-base hits in 16 games.

A West Michigan Whitecaps
10-14, 7th in Eastern Division

The Whitecaps played all six of their games at home last week, but the team went just 2-4, despite solid crowds at Fifth Third Ballpark. All six games were decided by three runs or fewer, but their only wins game in slugfests that the Caps won 9-7 and 8-5. Jeff Thompson’s six scoreless innings on Wednesday represented perhaps the best start of his pro career, but West Michigan was unable to score, and eventually lost 2-0. Fernando Perez also fell victim to a lack of run support on Sunday, taking the loss despite giving up just two runs in six innings. Catcher Shane Zeile made his season debut on Saturday after beginning the year on the disabled list with a broken finger, but the Whitecaps are still waiting for starters Artie Lewicki and Adam Ravenelle to return from the DL.

  • Relievers Gabe Hemmer and Johan Belisario have both been terrific this year, surrendering just 16 hits, 2 earned runs, and 9 walks in 25 1/3 innings, while striking out 29.

  • Right fielder Michael Gerber had another very solid week, going 9-for 23 with six RBIs, and he currently boasts a nine-game hitting streak.

  • The Whitecaps received some in-person defensive advice from Tigers legend Alan Trammell last Friday, but it didn’t take immediately, as they committed three errors that night.

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