MiLB 5/17 Week Review Cabrera Hot in Hens Pen

Last week in the minors saw two teams flirt with .500 for the first time in a month, a hitting streak snap at 20 games, and a slugger begin to show signs of life. There was dominant pitching in Lakeland, an offensive explosion in West Michigan, and a position player pitched for Toledo in a blowout that was mercifully cut short by thick fog.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review

AAA Toledo Mud Hens
14-22, 4th in West Division

It was another tough week for the Mud Hens, as they dropped four of their seven games. They’ve gone just 4-12 in May, and have fallen to 7.5 games behind first place in the West Division. The Hens spent the entire week on the road, losing two of three at Rochester (and getting shut out in both losses), before splitting a four-game series in Buffalo. The low point of the week came on Saturday night when the squad lost 16-2. Fortunately, fog rolled into Coca-Cola Field, ending that game after the top of the 8th inning. The high point of the week may have come a day later, however, as the team used a home run from Daniel Fields and doubles from Dixon Machado and Steven Moya to best the Bisons 5-2 in 12 innings. Buck Farmer provided two solid starts during the week, and Kyle Ryan chipped in with a terrific start of his own, but the rest of the rotation struggled, surrendering 20 earned runs in 20 1/3 innings.

  • After battling to find his swing for more than a dozen games, Moya finally broke out a bit last week, going 8-for-25 with three doubles and a homer.

  • Reliever Alberto Cabrera continues to make his case to be the next man up when the Tigers need a bullpen arm. He had three perfect outings last week, striking out four and earning two saves, and he has given up just four hits in 15 1/3 innings this season.

  • Saturday’s fog-shortened thrashing saw first baseman Jordan Lennerton pitch 1/3 of an inning, retiring the only batter he faced.

AA Erie Seawolves
13-23, 6th in Western Division

Erie started off well last week, as they took two of three at home from the Akron Aeros. But the offense sputtered at Reading, and the SeaWolves dropped three of four, falling into last place in the Eastern League. The week began with Erie’s top starter Austin Kubitza suffering his worst outing of the year, giving up six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings on a rain-addled night, and it ended with the Wolves dropping a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Fightin Phils. Erie held Reading to just two runs three times during their four-game set, but the SeaWolves lost all three games, getting shut out twice. Those losses spoiled outstanding starts from Warwick Saupold, Chad Green, and Derek Hankins. Though there wasn’t much offense to speak of, Dean Green and Jeff McVaney both had solid weeks, going 8-for-24 with 3 walks, and 8-for-24 with 5 walks, respectively.

  • McVaney, an 8th-round pick out of Texas State in 2012, is having his best year as a pro. He ranks among the league leaders in doubles, triples, walks, batting average, and on-base percentage.

  • Outfielder Wynton Bernard saw his hitting streak snap at 20 games on Thursday, but he came back with two hits on Friday before getting most of the weekend off.

  • Reliever Confesor Lara, recently promoted from Lakeland, pitched twice for Erie last week, giving up just his fourth earned run of the year on Monday, and earning the win with a scoreless inning on Saturday.

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
18-18, 3rd in North Division

The Flying Tigers had their best week of the year, going 5-2 and pulling back to .500 for the first time since the fourth game of the season. They did it mostly with pitching, as they gave up just 13 runs in their seven games. Things didn’t look great early in the week for Lakeland. They lost 4-0 on Monday, and were down 2-0 heading into the 9th inning on Tuesday. But a two-run double from Javier Betancourt and a bases-loaded walk to Raph Rhymes gave the Flying Tigers a 3-2 victory, and kickstarted a four-game winning streak. The starters seemed to be competing amongst themselves last week, as Locke St. John gave up just one earned run in 11 innings over two solid starts, Ryan Longstreth pitched 5 innings without allowing a run, Jonathan Maciel added 6 shutout frames of his own, and Kevin Ziomek topped them all with 8 scoreless innings on Wednesday.

  • First baseman Dominic Ficociello went 10-for-29 last week, and currently sports a 12-game hitting streak.

  • Betancourt is one of the youngest players in the league, having just turned 20 on May 8th, but he also happens to be in the midst of a 12-game hitting streak.

  • Tommy Collier was the only starter left out of the fun last week, picking up two losses despite giving up just four runs over 13 innings.

A West Michigan Whitecaps
18-19, T5th in Eastern Division

The Whitecaps also had a great week, riding an offensive hot streak to a 5-2 record, inching closer to .500, and climbing to within four games of first place. All seven games were at home, and the week started off innocently enough, with a 3-1 win and a 5-1 loss to the Bowling Green Hot Rods. But then the offense exploded, scoring 32 runs over the next three games. They were paced once again by outfielder Michael Gerber, who went 12-for-25 with five walks, two stolen bases, and a home run. Outfielders Ross Kivett (12-29) and Austin Schotts (10-for-25), and first baseman Will Kengor (10-for-28) also chipped in with outstanding offensive efforts. The pitchers did their part too, with starters Spencer Turnbull, A.J. Ladwig, and Trent Szkutnik each pitching well in wins, and Ross Seaton picking up wins on Monday and Sunday.

  • Gerber extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 25, and he has reached base safely in 33 of 37 games this season.

  • Outfielder Derek Hill continues to struggle at the plate. His .226 slugging percentage is the second lowest among qualified players in the Midwest League, ahead of only fellow 2014 first-rounder Alex Jackson.

  • Ladwig’s outing on Thursday was perhaps the finest start for any pitcher in the system this year. Last year’s 11th rounder from Wichita State pitched 8 scoreless innings, surrendering just four hits and one walk while striking out ten.

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