EST MLN: Briceno, Lewicki Progressing

The latest from the back fields in extended spring training includes a couple of important notes on rehabbing pitchers, including Endrys Briceno having a return date set, and Artie Lewicki having some success in his rehab work. In addition, performance notes on a number of others including Carlos Lara, Gregory Soto and Franciso German.

Lewicki's Rehab Impressive Thus Far

Working his way back from a strained right pectoral muscle, right-hander Artie Lewicki has looked impressive thus far during his rehab stint in extended spring training. The 23-year-old 8th rounder from last year's June Draft has paired solid numbers with impressive stuff as he works his way back to West Michigan's rotation.

Lewicki's low-90s running fastball has scrapped as high as 95 mph. He's changing speeds, keeping hitters off-balance and mixing in a tight low-80s slider, a vastly improved 79-81 mph curveball and a 84-85 mph change piece that's featured exceptional fading action. Lewicki's bulldog mound presence and ability to avoid predictable sequencing and move the ball around the zone well continue to impress me. There has not been a timetable set for his return to West Michigan just yet; his results and health thus far however have been encouraging.

Lara Struggles Continue

Last season right-hander Carlos Lara emerged as a legit top-50 prospect after numerous dominating double digit strikeout performances for the Gulf Coast League Tigers. Lara's fastball sat in the low-90s topping out at 94 mph and he mixed in a nasty wipeout slider that was widely considered to be a swing-and-miss offering at the highest of levels moving forward.

Unfortunately, that same magic has not transferred to Lara's new late inning relief role. Instead of gaining some zip, the fastball velocity has actually dropped to 88-90 mph thus far. He's struggling with command, frequently finding barrels and the slider just hasn't looked the same. The 21-year-old is slated to break camp with the Connecticut team next week; there is however some chatter that he may stay behind to get things sorted out in the GCL instead.

Pitching Notes

  • 18 year-old RHP Francisco German raw but projectable arm. Command was a bit of a bear. Like the arm speed. FB: 92-94 explodes. Can easily project to have more velocity down the road. Tight late breaking curveball has swing & miss potential moving forward.

  • 19-year-old RHP Jose Lopez pumped 95 mph FBs w/ late boring action. Undersized small 5'9" 175 pound frame. Nothing in the secondaries stood out. Lots of swing and miss with the FB; worth keeping an eye on.

  • 20 year-old LHP Gregory Soto threw four scoreless frames without breaking a sweat. Much taller and more chiseled than his listed 6'1" 180 pound listed body. FB sat 92-93 t94 w/ solid late sinking action. Velocity has been up as high as 96 this spring. Fills the zone. Changes speeds and mixes in 79-81 mph CH, 82-84 mph SL & 72-74 CB well. Secondary pitches significantly lag behind the FB. Slows arm-speed on CH, and loopy CB lacked desired velocity and tight rotation that you prefer to see. FB velocity, movement and left-handedness have me intrigued.

  • 19-year-old LHP Eudis Idrogo might've just replaced Confessor Lara as my favorite name in the Tigers system. Idrogo's FB sits just 89-90 t91 but he moves it around the zone exceptionally well, generating a decent amount of swing an miss and weak contact. He mixes in a 73-75 mph sweeping curveball and a low-80s change.

Injury Updates
  • Endrys Briceno has been throwing bullpen sessions regularly and is scheduled to throwing two per week starting next week. His arm feels good and there have been no setbacks thus far. The target date for his return to FSL action is June 22nd.

  • Eduardo Jimenez has ramped up activity the past week and is up to throwing two bullpen sessions a week now. Jimenez's progress and rehab plan is a tick ahead of Briceno's, so he also looks to enter game action around the end of June.

James Chipman is TigsTown's Senior Lakeland Correspondent, covering the organization up close from Florida. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @J__Chipman.

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