Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 6/29 - 7/5
AAA Toledo Mud Hens
37-46, 4th in West Division
The Mud Hens managed a solid 4-3 week despite a noteworthy amount of roster turnover, even by AAA standards. Toledo saw outfielder Tyler Collins hit the disabled list, infielder Alexi Casilla join the organization, a rehabbing Alex Avila return to the majors, first baseman Jordan Lennerton depart for the Pan Am games, leadoff man Xavier Avery opt out of his contract, third baseman Jefry Marte join the Tigers, and new closer Jeff Ferrell head to Detroit after a single appearance. Starters Buck Farmer and Shane Greene picked up two of the wins, while Rafael Dolis secured the other two victories with four innings of scoreless relief. On offense, new additions Casilla (9-for-24) and Trayvon Robinson (4-for-9, 3 BB) offered a spark, while sluggers Marte (5-for-13, HR) and Steven Moya (9-for-29, 4 HR) provided the thump.
- Farmer struck out 13 batters in 12 innings over two starts last week, after striking out just 12 in his previous 30 1/3 innings.
- HItting against left-handed pitchers has been an area of weakness in Moya’s career, but this season six of his ten AAA home runs have come against southpaws.
- Marte left Toledo as the International League leader in RBIs(55) and slugging percentage (.457), and he ranked 2nd in home runs (13) and 3rd in doubles (20).
AA Erie Seawolves
32-49, 6th in Western Division
The rainy conditions two weeks ago forced the SeaWolves into playing eight games last week, and the squad went 3-5, with five of the games decided by 2 runs or fewer. Erie began the week by dropping both games of a home doubleheader against the Bowie Baysox, and then split a four-game set with the Binghamton Mets. Chad Green took a tough-luck loss at Bowie on the Fourth of July, and things were looking grim for Erie on Sunday too, until a huge seven-run 8th inning propelled them to a 10-8 win. The SeaWolves got solid starting pitching performances from Green, Josh Turley, and Warwick Saupold during the week, while outfielder Connor Harrell (11-for-26, HR) and the newly acquired veteran shortstop Alberto Gonzalez (7-for-22, HR) led the offense.
- Green picked up two losses during the week, tying him for the league lead with 11. He’s been a bit unfortunate this year, however, as his FIP of 3.82 is significantly lower than his 5.00 ERA.
- Erie’s newly minted closer Paul Voelker had a solid week, picking up saves in all three of the team’s wins by tossing 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
- Outfielder Wynton Bernard has paced the Erie offense for most of the season, but a tough 5-for-31 week dropped his batting average to .291, the lowest it has been since May 17th.
A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
3-6, 6th in the 2nd half, 36-42, 4th overall in North Division
The Flying Tigers kept on streaking, although this time it was in the wrong direction, as they lost their first five games of the week before salvaging a win on Saturday. In the last 30 days, Lakeland has seen a nine-game losing streak, then an eight-game winning streak, and then a five-game losing streak. They also played a game that ended in a tie and suffered seven rainouts, including Sunday’s marathon affair, which was suspended in the 17th inning with the score tied 1-1. Kevin Ziomek and Jonathan Maciel authored the best pitching performances on the week, while Javier Betancourt (9-for-29) and Dominic Ficociello (8-for-28, HR) stood out at the plate.
- Ziomek took the loss on Thursday despite giving up just two runs in six innings, but he did notch a season-high 10 strikeouts. His 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is fourth best in the Florida State League.
- Ficociello has been a steady performer all year, ranking 5th in the league with a .303 batting average. The switch hitter has been particularly effective against southpaws, hitting .327/.378/.495 in 101 at-bats vs. lefties.
- Reliever Adenson Verastegui continues to baffle FSL hitters in his U.S. debut. He struck eight overs six scoreless innings last week, and has now given up just one run in 22 2/3 innings, good for a 0.40 ERA.
A West Michigan Whitecaps
7-4, T1st in the 2nd half, 40-40, 6th overall in Eastern Division
The Whitecaps had a great week, going 5-2 and pulling themselves into a tie for first place in the second half standings. The five wins all featured a solid mix of offense and pitching, while the two losses came in blowout fashion. Starters Jeff Thompson, Ross Seaton, Artie Lewicki, and A.J. Ladwig all pitched well in wins, while Spencer Turnbull picked up the other win despite giving up four runs in six innings on the 4th of July. West Michigan got offensive contributions from a number of players, including Ross Kivett (6-for-25, 7 BB), Michael Gerber (9-for-28), Zach Shepherd (11-for-24, 4 BB), David Gonzalez (7-for-21, 4 BB), and Derek Hill (6-for-15), who returned after a two-week stint on the disabled list.
- Relievers Johan Belisario and Joe Jimenez have shared closer duties for the Whitecaps this year, and both saw action in three games last week, with Belisario earning three saves and Jimenez picking up one.
- Among the Midwest League’s 17 qualified teenage position players, Shepherd ranks 5th in batting average (.277), 4th in on-base percentage (.361), 2nd in doubles (17), 3rd in strikeouts (76), and first in walks (33).
- First baseman Will Kengor’s batting average topped out at .356 on June 11th, but his 4-for-23 week saw it drop below .300 for the first time since May 3rd.
Short-Season A Connecticut Tigers
8-8, 2nd in Stedler Division
The arrival of many of 2015’s college draftees had the expected result for Connecticut, spurring the Tigers to a 5-2 week and pushing them up a few spots in the standings. A handful of players made solid pro debuts last week, including 2nd rounder Tyler Alexander, 4th rounder Kade Scivicque, and 9th rounder Trey Teakell. Dominic Moreno was the only member of the 2015 draft to pick up a win last week, however, with two victories going to 2013 draftee Spenser Watkins, and one each going to Sandy Baez and Andres Tejada. Central Michigan grad Patrick Mackenzie (7-for-15, 2 BB) was the top offensive performer, while Scivicque (6-for-16), and Cam Gibson (6-for-23, 6 RBIs) also had solid weeks.
- Third-round pick Drew Smith notched his first professional save on Saturday, and his pro career is off to a great start, as he has surrendered just one run in 8 2/3 innings, with 5 hits allowed, 2 walks, and 13 strikeouts.
- File under Go Figure: Gibson was drafted as something of a slap hitter with little power and lots of speed, but last week he hit two home runs and was thrown out in both of his stolen base attempts.
- First rounder Christin Stewart showcased his strengths and weaknesses last week, hitting two doubles and a home run, but striking out 11 times in 23 at-bats.
Gulf Coast League Tigers
8-4, 1st in Northeast Division
The mass exodus of college players from the GCL resulted in an influx of youngsters from Connecticut, but the Tigers managed to maintain first place by going 3-3 on the week. The team’s fortunes largely followed the performance of their bats, as they were outscored 12-3 in their three losses, while topping their opponents 27-10 in their three wins. The week culminated with a 13-1 win over the Yankees1 team, with the Tigers banging out 16 hits and starter Alfred Gutierrez picking up his first win in the United States.
- Outfielder Cesar Gonzalez hit just .130 in his week with Connecticut, but went 7-for-19 with four walks and two stolen bases in his first week in the GCL.
- The Tigers went well over slot to keep 14th-round shortstop Austin Simcox from returning to Tennessee. The former Volunteer went 5-for-15 with a walk and two steals in his first taste of pro ball.
- Tenth-round pick Cole Bauml is off to a tough start in his pro career, having gone just 1-for-24 thus far. However, his .048 BABIP suggests he may be experiencing a bit of bad fortune.
Venezuelan Summer League Tigers
The VSL Tigers had a very solid week, moving into 2nd place by winning four of six games. The week began with two one-run wins over the Cubs, including a 10th-inning walk-off on Monday, and it ended with a Saturday shutout of the high-powered Rays, who had only been blanked once so far this season. The Tigers also picked up an impressive win over the Phillies on Thursday, scoring four times in the top of the 9th to pull out a 4-1 victory. Ken Figueroa (7IP, 0ER) and Jesus Rodriguez (5IP, 0ER) both made terrific starts, while third baseman Moises Bello (7-for-19, 4 BB) was the top offensive performer.
- The Tigers pitching staff owns the lowest team ERA (3.46) and WHIP (1.24), and has given up the fewest number of home runs (10) in the VSL.
- Elys Escobar continues to be the prime offensive contributor for the team, ranking 3rd in batting average (.312), second in doubles (10) and tenth in walks (16).
- Rodriguez has given up just nine hits, three walks, and one earned run in his last 25 innings pitched, while striking out 17.
Dominican Summer League Tigers
17-14, T3rd in San Pedro de Macoris
The DSL Tigers had a solid 3-3 week to move into a tie for 3rd place, picking up a big win against the Cubs and pulling out two one-run victories over the Pirates. The week ended with an 11-6 loss in which all 11 runs the Yankees2 team scored were unearned. Starter Yei Almonte earned the win on Tuesday with five scoreless innings, while reliever Malvin Martinez pitched three scoreless innings and picked up two saves. The offense was led by Hector Martinez (6-for-20), whose hitting streak snapped at 26 games on Thursday, Randel Alcantara (10-for-23, HR), and Julio Martinez, who went bonkers. While J.D. Martinez (short for Julio Dariel) was going 11-for-24 with four homers in Detroit, Julio Alfonso Martinez was going 10-for-23 in the DSL, smashing his first four pro home runs, scoring nine times, and collecting ten RBIs.
- Having already hit six triples on the year, Julio Martinez’s homer outburst was enough to catapult him to the league lead in slugging percentage (.600).
- Alcantara is no slouch on offense, ranking 4th in the league in on-base percentage (.457) and 8th in slugging percentage (.552), thanks to 13 extra-base hits of his own.
- Almonte’s 1.09 ERA is good for 10th best in the DSL, but his 1.50 WHIP suggests that perhaps he’s not long for the leaderboard.