Farm Weekly Recap: Collier Cruising

Last week in the minors we saw a whole lot of rain in Florida, the continuation of a brutal losing streak, and an even more brutal doubleheader. The 2015 draftees continued to play well in West Michigan and Connecticut, a couple of rookie-ball teams made positive moves in the standings, and in Toledo a minor-league legend inched closer to baseball immortality.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 7/20 - 7/27

AAA Toledo Mud Hens
43-59, 4th in West Division

The Mud Hens spent the entire week on the road, and though they won their game on Monday, they’ll limp back home having lost five of their last six games. Tim Melville was effectively wild in Monday’s win, giving up no earned runs despite surrendering five hits and five walks in five innings. The Hens’ other win came on Thursday, when they broke open a 3-3 tie with four runs in the 8th inning, and held on for a narrow 7-6 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The rest of the week’s games were various shades of ugly, with Sunday’s 2-1 loss capping off a sweep for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

  • Melville walked 11 batters in 10 innings last week, and he now leads the International League with 60 free passes in 110 1/3 innings.

  • Tom Gorzelanny pitched three times during the week, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out six over four innings.

  • On Wednesday Mike Hessman hit his 431st career minor-league homer, putting him just one bomb shy of the all-time record for home runs by an affiliated minor-league baseball player.

AA Erie Seawolves
39-61, 6th in Western Division

The SeaWolves played eight games last week, winning their opener at Altoona, then losing five in a row before pulling out wins on Saturday and Sunday. The wins on Monday and Sunday featured strong starting pitching performances from Tommy Collier (7IP, 2H, ER) and Austin Kubitza (5IP, ER) respectively, while Saturday’s 5-4 win came on a walk-off single from Jason Krizan. The lowlight of Erie’s week, and perhaps their entire season, came when they lost both ends of Tuesday’s doubleheader. The Wolves were demolished 18-7 in the opener, eventually using first baseman James Robbins as a pitcher, and they took a 7-1 lead into the 7th-and-final inning of the nightcap, only to see Matt Crouse and Melvin Mercedes give up seven runs, and lose the game 8-7.

  • Outfielder Wynton Bernard has struggled to a .198 average in the month of July, but he turned things around a bit last week, going 10-for-31 with seven walks and six stolen bases.

  • Reliever Montreal Robertson pitched twice last week, giving up one run over five innings while striking out nine. He made his AA debut in early July, and now sports a 2.84 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

  • Collier is about ten innings shy of qualifying for the league title, but his 2.43 ERA would currently rank 6th. He would also rank 6th with a 1.04 WHIP, and his batting average against of .217 would be good for 4th.

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
6-21, 6th in the 2nd half, 39-57, 6th overall in North Division

It was a completely lost week for Lakeland, for multiple reasons. The Tigers were rained out on Wednesday, and then both games on Thursday were postponed due to rain. The same scenario played out again on the weekend, as rain canceled a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game on Sunday. But perhaps worst of all, the Tigers lost all four of the games they did play, and have now lost 13 in a row. The team did get a solid start from Kevin Ziomek on Thursday, as the southpaw gave up just one run over six innings in game one of a doubleheader, but they lost in the 9th inning on a walk-off wild pitch from Gabe Hemmer, and then lost the nightcap 2-1.

  • Javier Betancourt went 6-for-16 on the week, raising his average to .253. He’s not quite hitting as well as he did in low-A in 2014, but his walk rate is up slightly, and his strikeout rate is down by nearly 5%.

  • Francisco Martinez went 6-for-15 and scored 5 of Lakeland’s 11 runs on the week. He now has 100 hits on the season, the first time in his career that he’s reached that plateau at one level.

  • As a team, the Flying Tigers have just 43 stolen bases, by far the lowest total in the Florida State League.

A West Michigan Whitecaps
18-12, 1st in the 2nd half, 51-48, 4th overall in Eastern Division

The Whitecaps had their first losing week of the month, going 3-4, but they are still in first place in the second-half standings by 2 1/2 games. Recent draftee Trey Teakell picked up two of the team’s wins, one in relief and one as a starter. The other win went to reliever Johan Belisario on Wednesday when West Michigan scored three runs in the top of the 9th for a come-from-behind victory over the Dayton Dragons. Dayton returned the favor the next night, however, winning 2-1 in the 13th inning, and spoiling the longest outing of Spencer Turnbull’s career (7IP, ER).

  • Third baseman Zach Shepherd went 7-for-18 last week to raise his season average to .269, but he didn’t play on Saturday or Sunday. His last extra-base-hit was a double on June 16th.

  • Catcher Kade Scivicque’s bat continues to find holes. He went 7-for-22 last week, and is hitting .375 in his first 18 pro games, though only 3 of his 24 hits have gone for extra bases.

  • Since giving up seven earned runs in 2/3 of an inning on June 30th, reliever Adam Ravenelle has surrendered just three runs and struck out 11 over 12 innings.

Short-Season A Connecticut Tigers
18-17, 2nd in Stedler Division

The Connecticut Tigers has their best week of the season, going 6-1 and pulling to within a half game of first place. The squad began the week with a 4-2 win over the Hudson Valley Renegades, then they swept a three-game series at the Batavia Muckdogs, winning 2-1, 7-6, and 11-2. Their lone loss was a 1-0 nail-biter at Vermont, but they rebounded to take the next two games against the Lake Monsters. Chase Edwards picked up two wins on the week, while Drew Smith, Gerson Moreno, Jack Fischer, and Spenser Watkins each took home a victory. The offense was led by catcher Shane Zeile, who went just 4-for-20, but made those hits count by knocking in seven runs.

  • Watkins, a 30th-round pick in 2014, leads the team in innings pitched and strikeouts, and his 2.21 ERA is good for 5th best in the New York-Penn League.

  • Primarily known for his glove, shortstop A.J. Simcox had a strong week at the plate, going 8-for-20 and stealing two bases.

  • Recent draft picks Drew Smith and Tyler Alexander continue to dominate. Alexander took the team’s only loss on the week, but he has given up only one run in 16 pro innings. Smith has given up only one run in 23 pro innings, and has racked up 26 strikeouts.

Gulf Coast League Tigers
14-12, 1st in Northeast Division

The GCL Tigers fell victim to many of the same rain issues as the Flying Tigers, with rainouts on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but they still surged into first place by going 3-1 when they were able to play. The offense keyed the solid week, helping the squad outscore their opponents 22-10 in four games, while the wins went to Alfred Gutierrez, Gregory Soto, and Francisco German.

  • Shortstop Adrian Alfaro went 5-for-11 on the week, and has reached base 13 times in his last five games.

  • Lefty Eudis Idrogo picked up the team’s lone loss of the week, but he’s had a very solid debut in the U.S., with a 2.84 ERA and 26 strikeouts against 5 walks in 25 1/3 innings.

  • Reliever Carlos Lara is off to a brutal start in his return to the GCL. He has only given up two hits in 3 2/3 innings, but has surrendered seven earned runs thanks to ten walks and four hit batters.

Venezuelan Summer League Tigers
33-27, 2nd

The VSL Tigers continue to play very well, posting their second consecutive 5-1 week, and they are now 12-3 in their last 15 games. After a 5-1 loss on Monday, the pitching stepped up to surrender just four runs total in a win over the Cubs and a two-game sweep of the Phillies. Then the offense took over, exploding for 23 runs in a sweep of the first-place Rays. The squad remains six games behind the Rays with just 12 games left to play, but they have 2nd place locked up thanks to an eight-game lead over the 3rd place Phillies.

  • Reliever Hector Rodriguez’s 3.00 ERA is twice that of teammate Adonis Figuera, but Rodriguez’s 13 saves are by far the most in the VSL.

  • Outfielder Franklin Arias continued his strong play, going 8-for-21 last week, and extending his on-base streak to 25 consecutive games.

  • Eliezer Castillo’s .288 batting average now leads the team. He went 6-for-16 on the week, doing most of his damage on Friday, when he went 5-for-5 and scored four runs.

Dominican Summer League Tigers
23-25, 5th in San Pedro de Macoris

The DSL Tigers couldn’t match the success of their fellow rookie-league squads, dropping four of their six games, and falling to 11 games behind the division-leading Red Sox2. The pitching staff struggled, giving up 41 runs in their six games, though the team got solid outings from Felix Viloria (5 IP, 2ER, 6K) and Yei Almonte (4IP, 4K) in their two wins.

  • Outfielder Julio Martinez struck out eight times in 12 at-bats to begin the week, and he didn’t play on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.

  • Shortstop Isrrael De La Cruz was 7-for-16 on the week, and has hit safely in seven consecutive games, raising his batting average from .244 to .273 in that span.

  • Almonte’s relief win was just his second outing as a reliever this season, and it increased his scoreless innings streak to 29.

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