Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 8/17 - 8/23
AAA Toledo Mud Hens
53-76, 4th in West Division
The Mud Hens managed to squeeze in eight games last week, going 3-5, with two wins coming from Kyle Ryan, and the third going to Tim Melville. The squad began the week at home by splitting a quick two-game set with the Gwinnett Braves, but then they hit the road for six games, getting swept in three games at Durham before taking two of three from the Norfolk Tides. Injuries at the big-league level led to some roster movement throughout the system, and the Hens saw a number of different transactions during the week, including the return of Jefry Marte, the release of Marc Krauss, and the AAA debut of lefty reliever Joe Mantiply.
- Ryan threw 12 1/3 innings last week, giving up 13 hits, 5 walks, and 3 earned runs. After beginning the year 0-9 in AAA, he has now earned the win in each of his last three starts.
- It’s been a long year for outfielder Steven Moya, but he had solid results at the plate last week, going 10-for-30 with 3 HR and 7 RBIs, though he did strike out 12 times. He is now hitting .293/.337/.488 in 21 August games.
- Toledo set a new season high (or low) in runs allowed on Wednesday when they were beat by Durham 17-2. Infielder Corey Jones pitched for the first time in his career, surrendering three runs in two innings.
AA Erie Seawolves
54-71, 6th in Western Division
The SeaWolves have been in last place since the end of April, so their postseason hopes have long since been dashed, but that didn’t keep them from playing their best stretch of baseball of the season last week when they went 6-0. They began the week at home by outslugging the New Britain Rock Cats 5-4, 9-5, and 8-7, but then the pitching got into the act too, as Erie won 3-2, 7-1, and 8-1 in three games at Akron. Six different pitchers earned wins, including Michael Fulmer, who bounced back from his first rough outing with the team to throw six innings of two-hit ball, and Austin Kubitza, who started twice and gave up just two runs over 10 1/3 innings.
- Outfielder Wynton Bernard had a terrific week at the plate, going 15-for-28 with nine runs scored and three stolen bases. His average has jumped from .276 to .293 in just eight games.
- First baseman Dominic Ficociello also had a spectacular week at the plate, going 12-for-20 with 10 RBIs. The 23-year-old switch hitter is now batting .306/.364/.427 in 113 games between Lakeland and Erie.
- Reliever Gabe Hemmer made his AA debut on Saturday with two strikeouts and a walk in a scoreless inning. The 25-year-old right-hander has now pitched at three levels this year, and owns a stellar 0.98 ERA on the season.
A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
15-38, 6th in the 2nd half, 48-74, 6th overall in North Division
Lakeland played eight times last week, and their five wins in those seven days was exactly half as many victories as they managed to accumulate in the previous seven weeks. The week didn’t start off terribly well, with the Flying Tigers dropping both ends of a doubleheader to the Tampa Yankees, but then the pitching stepped up and propelled the squad to wins in five of their next six contests. Thursday’s 4-1 win over Dunedin offered up a few milestones, with starter Endrys Briceno pitching five scoreless innings to earn his first career win at the high-A level, and Lakeland manager Dave Huppert landing the 1,900th win in his minor-league career.
- On Wednesday lefty Kevin Ziomek made his fourth consecutive strong start, giving up one run on just two hits over 6 2/3 innings. He has given up just 11 hits and 4 runs over his last 27 2/3 innings, and his 128 strikeouts is tied for the 16th most in all of minor-league baseball.
- Second baseman Javier Betancourt remains one of the few bright spots in the otherwise moribund Lakeland offense. Last week he went 9-for-29 with three doubles and a triple, and he now ranks ninth in the league with 118 hits.
- Side-armed reliever Gage Smith made his Lakeland debut on Sunday, earning the win by tossing four scoreless innings.
A West Michigan Whitecaps
33-22, 2nd in the 2nd half, 66-58, 3rd overall in Eastern Division
The Whitecaps continued their impressive second-half performance last week, going 5-2 and pulling to within 2 1/2 games of first place in the overall standings. They began the week by sweeping a three-game series from the Great Lakes Loons, and then split a four-game set with the Lake County Captains over the weekend. The team got strong starting pitching from Ross Seaton, Artie Lewicki, Trey Teakell, and Jeff Thompson, while 2015 draftees Dominic Moreno and Drew Smith picked up wins in relief.
- Thompson picked up the win in the first game of Saturday night’s doubleheader, throwing seven scoreless innings while giving up just two hits and a walk, and striking out ten. His second-half ERA has now fallen to 1.73 over 52 innings.
- Detroit spent $600,000 to sign A.J. Simcox away from Tennessee in this year’s draft, and he made his West Michigan debut last week, going 7-for-24 with a stolen base.
- Smith’s win came in his low-A debut when he pitched 1 2/3 innings in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader. He did give up his second run of the year, but it was unearned, so his overall ERA remains an absurd 0.29 over his first 31 professional innings.
Short-Season A Connecticut Tigers
28-29, 3rd in Stedler Division
The New York-Penn League All-Star game and a rainy weekend resulted in just four games for Connecticut last week. Lefty Matt Hall picked up the first loss of his pro career when he gave up two runs in three innings to the Hudson Valley Renegades on Wednesday, but Sandy Baez helped the team bounce back for a 6-1 victory the next night by posting his second consecutive scoreless six-inning outing. Tyler Alexander also chipped in with another terrific three-inning start and the offense exploded for an 11-1 win on Saturday, but the bats fell silent in a 1-0 loss on Sunday.
- Victor Padron, the league’s leading hitter, went 1-for-3 in Tuesday’s All-Star game. He returned to Connecticut for one game before being promoted to West Michigan.
- Catcher Will Allen also made the All-Star game, grounding out in his lone at bat. He went 5-for-7 upon returning to the Tigers, however, and his .313 average is fourth best in the league.
- Alexander made the All-Star team but didn’t pitch, while Spenser Watkins and Drew Smith both threw scoreless innings.
Gulf Coast League Tigers
32-21, 1st in Northeast Division
The GCL Tigers were remarkably busy last week, completing ten games of action, and splitting the contests evenly. The most noteworthy event was Monday’s 24-inning loss to the Blue Jays, a game that was postponed twice and took place over three different days. Alec Kisena, Locke St. John, and Alfred Gutierrez all recorded wins with solid starts of at least five innings, and Beau Burrows continued his impressive debut season with three scoreless innings in Thursday’s 1-0 win over the Pirates.
- The team got terrific contributions from two exciting young shortstops. Adrian Alfaro went 8-for-16, while Anthony Pereira went 4-for-17 with two home runs and two steals.
- Burrows has some of the best stats of any first-round pitcher from 2015, with a 1.80 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 25 innings. Opposing batters are hitting just .184 against him.
- Two pitchers made important steps in their comeback trails last week. Eduardo Jimenez missed all of 2014 with an injury, and made his first career appearance outside of Venezuela with a scoreless inning on Friday. And hard-throwing Edgar De La Rosa made two appearances last week, his first game action since May 19th.
Dominican Summer League Tigers
31-41, 8th in San Pedro de Macoris
The DSL Tigers’ season came to a close last week on a bit of a sour note, with the team losing four of their six games, and dropping their final three contests by a combined score of 24-6. The two wins went to Franchi Batista and Melvin Morel, both in relief efforts. The squad finished in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories, but their lack of success this year can probably be attributed to the pitching staff, which finished the season with the 4th worst ERA in the 38-team league.
- Third baseman Randel Alcantara was one of the league’s more impressive hitters this season, finishing among the league leaders in doubles, triples, slugging percentage, and OPS.
- Starter Yei Almonte gave up just three earned runs in his first 40+ innings, and was among the league leaders in ERA for most of the season, but he gave up ten earned runs in his final 18 1/3 innings to lift his season ERA to 1.89.
- Closer Malvin Martinez led the league with 27 appearances, covering 37 1/3 IP. He racked up nine saves, posting a 1.45 ERA with 26 hits allowed, and 43 strikeouts against 11 walks.