Farm Weekly Recap: Kivett Paces 'Caps

There weren’t a lot of wins to be found last week in the minors, with all six affiliates losing at least four games. The Mud Hens hit a few big homers and got a visit from V-Mart, but the SeaWolves where nearly no-hit, The Flying Tigers didn’t win a game, and the Whitecaps saw their playoff hopes dashed.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 6/8 - 6/14

AAA Toledo Mud Hens
28-36, 4th in West Division

It was a fairly typical week for Toledo, as the Mud Hens went 3-4 and remained in last place in their division. They took two of three at home against the Syracuse Chiefs, but then lost three of four on the road against the Pawtucket Red Sox. A rainout on Monday forced a doubleheader on Tuesday, and the Hens took game one in come-from-behind fashion thanks to the heroics of Steven Moya, who hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 6th, and then belted a 2-run, walkoff double in the bottom of the 7th. The next day shortstop Dixon Machado provided the big hit, bashing a grand slam in the middle of an 8-run inning as Toledo bested Syracuse 11-7. All four games in Pawtucket were close, but the Hens could only take Sunday’s affair, a game which saw a rehabbing Victor Martinez go 1-for-4 with an RBI.

  • It wasn’t a great week for a couple of relievers hoping to return to Detroit soon. Bruce Rondon gave up two runs in the 8th inning on Friday, a game the Mud Hens eventually lost 3-2 in the 12th. And the next night Angel Nesbitt, making his first Triple-A appearance, gave up three runs in just 1/3 of an inning, and Toledo lost 7-5.

  • Rondon’s blown save spoiled a great start for That Weber, who had gone seven scoreless innings. He has given up just three earned runs in his last 33 innings, and his ERA has dropped from 8.10 to 3.62 in the last five weeks.

  • Machado had a very productive week at the plate, going 7-for-28 with 2HR and 8 RBIs.

AA Erie Seawolves
21-39, 6th in Western Division

The SeaWolves went just 2-5 for the week, getting shut out once, and surrendering 11 runs in another loss. Their wins came on Tuesday, when Josh Turley turned in a great start and Dean Green provided all the offense in a 3-2 triumph, and on Saturday, when starter Austin Kubitza bounced back from a rough outing, and seven different players knocked in a run in a 7-4 victory. Three of the week’s losses found the Wolves down by at least three runs by the close of the 2nd inning, and in Thursday’s shutout loss they only managed one hit. That hit came from outfielder Wynton Bernard, who went 8-for-28 and stole five bases on the week.

  • Bernard continues to be an incredibly steady performer for the SeaWolves. He ranks fourth in the Eastern League in hits, third in doubles, and second in stolen bases.

  • Tommy Collier gave Erie his fourth consecutive solid start on Friday night. He now sports a 2.10 ERA, and looks like a welcome addition to a rotation featuring four starters with ERAs over 4.75 and WHIPs above 1.50.

  • Lefty reliever Joe Mantiply has been a quietly steady performer so far this year, and he provided five innings of scoreless relief in three outings last week.

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
27-35, T6th in North Division

Two things piled up for the Flying Tigers last week: rain and losses. Tuesday’s game was postponed by rain, and the next night’s makeup doubleheader saw game one shortened to five innings, and game two postponed. Then Thursday’s makeup of the makeup saw Lakeland lose game one 2-1 in 13 innings, and then drop game two as well. Friday’s game was rained out, leading to another doubleheader on Saturday. The Flying Tigers dropped all seven of their rain-soaked games on the week, and in the process they fell from 3rd place in the division into a tie for last. Heros were hard to come by, but first baseman Dominic Ficociello continued to get on base at a solid clip (6-for-21, 4BB) and closer Paul Voelker was terrific in his lone outing on the week, striking out six batters in three innings.

  • His 4.74 ERA isn’t terribly encouraging, but Kevin Ziomek remains among the league leaders in innings pitched and strikeouts.

  • Catcher Will Allen, Detroit’s 13th-round-pick in 2014, made his professional debut last week, notching one hit in seven at-bats. He had been out rehabbing a torn labrum.

  • Adenson Verastegui continues to provide very effective long relief for Lakeland. He has pitched at least three innings in all four of his outings, and has allowed only a single run, while striking out 14.

A West Michigan Whitecaps
30-33, 6th in Eastern Division

The Whitecaps saw plenty of rain and losses too, and in going 1-5 on the week they saw their slim first-half playoff hopes evaporate. West Michigan did see the return of a key member of their rotation, however. On Thursday, Artie Lewicki pitched for the Whitecaps for the first time since April 10th, and while his outing began with an ugly five-run first, he bounced back with four scoreless innings afterward. The week’s lone win was a rain-shortened affair on Wednesday, with A.J. Ladwig giving up two runs over five innings, and Ross Kivett, Michael Gerber, Will Kengor, Shane Zeile, and Garrett Mattlage all providing at least two hits.

  • Kivett had one of his best weeks of the year, going 10-for-24 with a HR and three steals. He ranks third in the Midwest League with 75 hits and 18 doubles.

  • First Baseman Will Kengor didn’t join the Whitecaps until May 2nd, but he now has enough plate appearances to rank third in batting average (.343) and first in on-base percentage (.440).

  • Starter Fernando Perez lost again on Friday, dropping his record to 0-6 despite a solid 3.74 ERA. The Whitecaps have scored only nine runs for him in 53 innings.

Venezuelan Summer League Tigers
9-15, 4th

The VSL Tigers went 3-4 on the week, and they remain in last place, 8.5 games behind the Rays, a team they still haven’t beaten (0-8). The week began with a split of a doubleheader against the Cubs. Ken Figueroa was brilliant in game one, surrendering a single hit and striking out five over six shutout innings, but the Tigers were blanked 6-0 in game two. Daniel Gonzalez also had an outstanding start last week, scattering four hits over seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over the Phillies on Thursday. Anthony Pereira (8-for-24), Hector Hernandez (7-for-24), Eliezer Castillo (7-for-20), and Elys Escobar (10-for-26) all had very good weeks on offense.

  • Pereira ranks second in the league with 9 steals, and his .813 OPS is .235 points higher than the next closest shortstop.

  • Starters Jose Fuentes, Figueroa, and Gonzalez are all tied for third in the league with 20 strikeouts.

  • Escobar continues to impress on both sides of the ball. He leads all catchers in batting average (.306) and on-base percentage (.369), and he has thrown out 46% of potential base stealers.

Dominican Summer League Tigers
7-6, 3rd in San Pedro de Macoris

The DSL Tigers went just 2-4 on the week, winning on Monday and Saturday, but losing the four games in between, including an 18-5 walloping on Friday against the Pirates. Noah Ovales picked up a win with five scoreless innings on Monday, while the roughest outing of the week went to the splendidly named Xavier Javier, who gave up eight runs (four earned) in 2 2/3 innings on Friday.

  • Outfielder Hector Martinez’s saw his average drop from .500 to .396, but he still recorded at least one hit in every game, and has begun the season with a 12-game hitting streak.

  • Bonus baby Julio Martinez hasn’t hit a home run yet, but his five triples is tied for the league lead.

  • Left-handed pitcher Felix Viloria has been nearly untouchable so far this season. In nine innings he has given up just four hits, zero runs, and struck out 16 batters.

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