Farm Weekly Recap: Gerber Gets Going

Last week in the minors we saw more rain in Florida (surprise!), two absurdly long games, and three brutal walk-off losses for West Michigan. Three trades at the MLB level meant three new players made their organizational debuts in the minors, a couple of hitters returned to powerful form for the SeaWolves and Whitecaps, and in Toledo a slugger tied a long-standing record.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 7/27 - 8/02

AAA Toledo Mud Hens
45-63, 4th in West Division

The Mud Hens returned home after a seven-game road trip and promptly won two of three from the Rochester Red Wings, but another short road trip found the team getting swept by the Louisville Bats. A solid 2-1 win on Monday gave way to a 13-2 thumping that saw Rochester score all 13 runs after the 5th inning, and the week ended with Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish announcing he would retire at the end of the season, and his team scoring two runs in the top of the 9th to tie the game, only to lose 4-3 in the 14th inning. Mike Belfiore and Thad Weber made solid starts during the week, while newly acquired lefthander Matt Boyd made his organizational debut with two scoreless innings on Saturday, though he did walk three batters.

  • Reliever Drew VerHagen pitched 6 2/3 inning of relief on the week, earning a win and a loss while giving up just one run and striking out seven.

  • Kyle Ryan gave up six runs in Friday night’s loss, dropping him to 0-9 in AAA this year. He’s one of just two pitchers in the International League to have thrown at least 75 innings and not picked up a win.

  • The Mike Hessman watch continues, as the big righty hit his 432nd career minor-league homer on Wednesday, tying him for the all-time record. He has hit 183 home runs for the Mud Hens.

AA Erie Seawolves
42-65, 6th in Western Division

The SeaWolves began their week with a 4-3 win over the Reading Fightin Phils, but then lost the next four games. The week ended on a high note, however, as Erie was able to win on Saturday and Sunday, thanks in part to the contributions of newly acquired shortstop JaCoby Jones. The team got solid pitching efforts from starters Derek Hankins and Chad Green, while closer Paul Voelker had a busy week, earning the save on Monday, but surrendering four runs in the bottom of the 9th on Tuesday for his first blown save in AA. On the offensive side of things, Wednesday saw the return of Dead Green from Toledo, and the burly DH responded by going 10-for-21 with four home runs and 9 RBIs, while Jones debuted with his new team on Friday, but didn’t truly announce his presence until Sunday, when he went 3-for-4 with three home runs and 5 RBIs.

  • Chad Green made two starts during the week, giving up just one run over 11 innings, while striking out nine. He pitched well enough to win on Tuesday, but missed out because of Voelker’s blown save. He did win on Sunday, however, pulling his record to 3-14. It was his first win since May 20th.

  • Jones spent his first 93 games of the season in the Florida State League and had only played three games for Pittsburgh’s AA affiliate before being traded. He’s the first SeaWolves player to hit three homers in one game since Tony Plagman in 2012.

  • Starter Austin Kubitza gave up 12 hits and six runs over five innings in Friday’s 6-5 loss. His 6.08 ERA is now the worst in the Eastern League by nearly half-a-run, and his 141 hits allowed is the second worst.

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
8-25, 6th in the 2nd half, 41-61, 6th overall in North Division

The Flying Tigers just can’t seem to avoid losses and rain, as they had three more games rained out this week, and lost four of the six times they played. After flirting with .500 for most of the first half of the season, Lakeland has now lost 25 of their last 33 games, and are already 12 1/2 games out of first place in the second-half standings. The team split a doubleheader on Monday, but then lost their next three games, before pulling out a 9-7 win on Friday thanks to a 4-run 8th inning. Newly acquired pitcher Jairo Labourt made his organizational debut in that game, giving up four runs in four innings, but outperforming former Tiger Drew Smyly, who gave up 5 runs in 3 1/3 innings of a rehab assignment. The wildest game of the week came the night before, however, as Lakeland and Charlotte put together an epic 19-inning affair that saw both teams score single runs in the 14th and 15th innings. Charlotte eventually scored twice in the top of the 19th, and while Javier Betancourt blasted his 3rd home run of the year in the bottom of the inning, it wasn’t enough, and the Flying Tigers fell 5-4 in a game that lasted 5 1/2 hours.

  • Outfielder Jiwan James had a very strong week, going 10-for-25 with two home runs, six RBIs, and two stolen bases. He is one of just five players in the FSL with at least 5 homers and 15 steals.

  • Endrys Briceno was the starter in the 19-inning epic, pitching five scoreless innings while surrendering just four hits and one walk, and striking out four. The lanky right-hander now boasts a 2.08 ERA in 21 2/3 innings since returning to action from an elbow injury.

  • Francisco Martinez hit his 9th home run of the year on Friday, but it was otherwise a week to forget for the third baseman. He went just 4-for-28 and struck out 10 times.

A West Michigan Whitecaps
19-17, 1st in the 2nd half, 52-53, 7th overall in Eastern Division

The Whitecaps had one of their worst weeks in a long time, losing five of six games and going from a 2 1/2 game lead in the standings to a 2 1/2 game deficit. West Michigan won once in three games against the Bowling Green Hot Rods to begin the week, and they were then swept by the first place Fort Wayne Tin Caps, losing all three games in walk-off fashion. The pitching was strong for the most part, with good starts from Ross Seaton, A.J. Ladwig, and Jeff Thompson, and quality long relief from Adam Ravenelle and Trey Teakell, but the offense just couldn’t get things going, scoring only 12 runs in their six games.

  • Recent draftees Dominic Moreno and Trey Teakell both suffered their first professional losses last week, while Catcher Kade Scivicque hit his first two professional home runs.

  • Infielder Joey Pankake had one of his stronger weeks of the season, going 9-for-21 with three doubles.

  • Outfielder Mike Gerber hit two home runs on the week, bringing his season total to 10. He’s the only player in the Midwest League with at least 20 doubles, 10 home runs, and 15 steals, and he’s tied for the league lead in slugging percentage.

Short-Season A Connecticut Tigers
19-21, 3rd in Stedler Division

The Connecticut Tigers followed up their best week of the season with one of their worst, losing their first four games of the week and getting rained out on Thursday before finally picking up a 4-2 win on Sunday. The offense wasn’t terribly effective, scoring 16 runs in five games, but pitching takes most of the blame for the rough week, as they gave up 29 runs. The team did get solid starts from Gerson Moreno, Ryan Castellanos, Tyler Alexander, and Matt Hall, but a shaky bullpen gave up 17 runs in the 7th inning or later.

  • Detroit’s 6th-round pick this year, Hall has been on an innings limit after throwing 125 innings for Missouri State during his college season. He led the NCAA in strikeouts with 171, and has added 25 more in 25 minor-league innings.

  • Outfielder Cam Gibson is hitting just .232 through 17 short-season games, but he launched his 4th homer of the season on Tuesday. He hit only seven home runs in 157 career games in college.

  • Reliever Drew Smith pitched 3 1/3 more scoreless innings last week. His ERA is now down to a miniscule 0.34, and he has racked up 30 strikeouts against just 4 walks in 26 1/3 professional innings.

Gulf Coast League Tigers
17-13, 1st in Northeast Division

Rain gave the GCL Tigers all sorts of trouble for the second consecutive week, postponing a doubleheader on Friday and another game on Saturday. But the squad did well when they were on the field, winning three of four and increasing their division lead to 4 1/2 games. They began the week with a 8-4 loss to the Braves, but the pitching absolutely clamped down after that, surrendering just two runs over the next three outings and winning games 9-1, 2-1, and 1-0. Starters Eudis Idrogo (6IP, ER, 7K), Toller Boardman (7IP, ER), and Alec Kisena (6IP, 4K) all pitched very well, with Boardman and Kisena keeping their team in the game long enough for the Tigers to pull out a walk-off win in the 9th on Wednesday, and score the game-winning run in the 10th inning on Thursday.

  • Idrogo and Kisena have both been terrific for the Tigers so far. Idrogo is 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings, while Kisena is 0-1 with a 0.47 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 19 innings.

  • The result of one of the team’s games is still up in the air. Friday’s game was suspended with the Tigers up 5-4 in the 23rd inning. Both teams scored a run in the 21st inning, and the game has taken 6 hours and 35 minutes so far.

  • The Tigers are in first place thanks mostly to their pitching. Their collective 2.44 ERA is the 2nd best in the league, and their 287 strikeouts are tied for first.

Venezuelan Summer League Tigers
36-30, 2nd

Coming into the week having won 12 of their previous 15 games, the VSL Tigers appeared poised to make an improbable run at first place, particularly after sweeping the league-leading Rays on Wednesday and Thursday. But two tough losses to the Cubs over the weekend meant a 3-3 week, leaving the Tigers five games behind the Rays with just six games left in the season. After a strong 3-0 win on Monday, the club’s normally terrific pitching broke down a bit, surrendering 28 runs over the next five games. Jose Fuentes and Jose Vasquez did provide terrific starts in two of the wins, while Wednesday’s 9-7 shootout found Jesus Rodriguez picking up a win despite giving up 12 hits and 7 earned runs in five innings.

  • Outfielder Hector Hernandez went 5-for-18 with 3 walks last week. He ranks 2nd in the league with 66 hits and he’s tied for 4th with 34 walks.

  • Ken Figueroa and Fuentes are two of just five pitchers who qualify for the ERA title in the VSL. Figueroa’s 2.23 ERA is good for 3rd, while Fuentes is 5th at 2.76.

  • The Tigers have locked up 2nd place in the league, and after next week they will take on the Rays in a best-of-three series to determine the VSL champions.

Dominican Summer League Tigers
24-30, 5th in San Pedro de Macoris

It was a very rough week for the DSL Tigers, as they won just once, and then finished the week on a five-game losing streak that was capped off by a walk-off loss in the 11th inning on Saturday. Monday’s game saw the team score four runs in the 2nd inning and then hold on for a 4-3 win, but the next five games were various degrees of disappointing, with the squad taking the lead in four of the games, but unable to hold on for the win in any of them.

  • Third baseman Randel Alcantara has been terrific for most of the season. He’s hitting .325 with 23 extra-base hits and six steals in 43 games, and his .952 OPS is good for 6th in the league.

  • Yei Almonte came into the week having not given up a run in 29 innings, but he surrendered four in two innings on Thursday, and saw his ERA jump from 0.62 to 1.38.

  • The team’s 4.38 collective ERA ranks 34th in the 38-team DSL. They’ve given up the 3rd fewest home runs in the league, but they’ve surrendered the 3rd most hits, and have hit more opposing batters than any other team.

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