Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 5/25 - 5/31
AAA Toledo Mud Hens
21-29, 4th in West Division
The Mud Hens spent the week on the road, beginning with a solid win on Monday, but then losing four in a row before taking the games on Saturday and Sunday. It could have been better, as the Indianapolis Indians scored three runs in the 8th off a rehabbing Bruce Rondon on Friday night to win 5-4. It also could have been worse, because Toledo authored a two-out, three-run comeback of their own on Saturday to beat the Indians 9-8. It was also a very busy week for transactions. Dixon Machado made his MLB debut on Monday, then returned the Mud Hens on Saturday. Kyle Ryan was called up as an emergency replacement for Alfredo Simon, and Buck Farmer made his season debut in the Majors on Thursday. Rondon made three relief appearances during the week, including back-to-back outings on Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday Justin Verlander pitched for the Mud Hens in his first real game of the season.
- Outfielder Daniel Fields struggled in May, but he finished the month strong, reaching base 14 times last week, and he still ranks in the top six in runs scored, doubles, triples, walks, and on-base percentage.
- In his first 18 games at AAA this year, outfielder Steven Moya hit .179 with three RBIs and only one extra-base hit. In the 16 games since, he has hit .308 with 17 RBIs and 12 extra-base hits, including four homers.
- The Mud Hens remain in last place in their division, and the pitching bears most of the blame. Toledo’s 5.35 team ERA is worst in the International League by more than a run.
- First baseman Jordan Lennerton made his second appearance as a pitcher this year, tossing a scoreless 9th on Wednesday. He has now thrown 5 1/3 innings in his career, and has yet to give up a run.
AA Erie Seawolves
17-30, 6th in Western Division
The SeaWolves had a very rough week, losing four of the five games they played. They were also down 4-0 in the top of the 5th inning when Saturday’s game was suspended due to rain, and the makeup doubleheader scheduled for Sunday was also postponed because of rain. Austin Kubitza was sharp in the team’s only win on Wednesday, giving up three runs and striking out eight over six innings, while Josh Turley pitched well but fell victim to a lack of offense, and Tommy Collier, in his 2015 AA debut, had a good start spoiled by bullpen woes. The usual suspects contributed on offense, with Wynton Bernard going 7-for-22 and Dean Green going 5-for-15 with three home runs on the week. Harold Castro chipped in with a 6-for-18 week, but for the most part the offense stagnated.
- Green sports a lifetime .314 minor-league average, and is walking more and hitting for more power than in any other season of his career.
- Turley’s 2.79 ERA is good for 9th in the Eastern League, and he leads Erie with four wins and 51 2/3 innings pitched.
- Like the Mud Hens, the SeaWolves sport the worst ERA in their league. They also rank last with a 1.55 WHIP and 37 home runs allowed.
A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
23-26, 4th in North Division
The Flying Tigers inched further away from .500 with a tough 2-4 week that including a 14-0 drubbing at the hands of the Brevard County Manatees on Saturday night. That game saw third baseman Francisco Martinez go 1-for-3 at the plate, and finish the night on the mound, where he walked two batters, hit another, and gave up three earned runs. He did manage to retire the rehabbing all-star catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The team’s actual pitchers didn’t perform much better last week. No starter managed to pitch for more than five innings, and the only starter to get a win was Matt Crouse, whose first seven appearances on the season had all come in relief. The Flying Tigers struggled offensively for most of the week, though Jiwan James, Javier Betancourt, and Dominic Ficociello were all steady, if unspectacular.
- James, signed out of a tryout camp in the offseason, has now hit safely in eight consecutive games, and he went 8-for-26 with three steals on the week.
- There were a couple noteworthy pitching debuts last week. Reliever Will Clinard, pitching for the first time since 2013, threw three scoreless innings, though he did issue six walks. And Adenson Verastegui, making his U.S. debut, struck out six over 3 1/3 scoreles innings on Friday.
- Grayson Greiner performed well in a 26-game stint in low-A West Michigan last season, but this year he ranks last in the Florida State League in batting average (.141), on-base percentage (.179), and slugging percentage (.211).
A West Michigan Whitecaps
25-26, 6th in Eastern Division
The Whitecaps played a lot of extra baseball last week, ending games in the 10th inning twice, and the 12th inning twice. They began their week with three wins, but then went on a four-game skid, dropping both ends of a Sunday doubleheader, and finishing the week below .500. For the most part the starting pitching was strong last week, surrendering just 21 runs in the seven games, but weak bats and iffy relief combined to do in the team. A.J. Ladwig and Trent Szkutnik both provided solid starts, while relievers Joe Jimenez and Gabe Hemmer continue to be stellar out of the bullpen, combining for nine scoreless innings and striking out 11 last week. Derek Hill (8-for-31), Michael Gerber (10-for-28), Will Kengor (8-for-21), and Zach Shepherd (5-for-21, 7 walks) all had solid weeks at the plate, but the team just couldn’t string together enough offense at the right times.
- Shepherd put together a very solid May, but he really turned it on in the last two weeks, drawing 13 of his 20 walks on the season, and hitting 7 of his 14 doubles.
- Oddly, Jimenez has earned the win in each of his last three outings, all of which were extra-inning affairs. He now has three wins and three saves.
- Hill’s batting numbers are still a bit ugly, but he’s had six multi-hit games in the last two weeks, and he’s contributing in other ways, with 19 stolen bases and six outfield assists.
Venezuelan Summer League Tigers
Like every other team in the system, it was a pretty rough week for the VSL Tigers. They went just 1-4 and had one of their games postponed due to rain, and they’ve begun the year 0-4 against the VSL Rays. They got solid weeks from outfielders Irwin Chirinos (6-for-18) and Alexander Rodriquez (4-for-9), and from third baseman Eliezer Castillo (6-for-19), but the rest of the offense struggled. Reliever Willians Moreno recorded the only win of the week, but it was after blowing the save for starter Daniel Gonzalez, who had thrown five scoreless innings.
- Castillo’s .357 batting average ranks fourth in the league, and his 15 hits and 9 runs scored are good for second..
- Shortstop Anthony Pereira saw his average drop from .409 to .297 last week, but he still leads the league in doubles (5) and stolen bases (6).
- Starter Ken Figueroa has allowed just two hits and one earned run in his first ten innings, but his record is 0-1.
Dominican Summer League Tigers
1-0, 1st in San Pedro de Macoris
The DSL season began on Saturday, but with only one game in the books, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about. The Tigers bested the Rangers2 team 4-2, and the most noteworthy player was last summer’s priority international free agent signee Julio Martinez, who went 2-for-4 with a double in his professional debut.