Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 8/24 - 8/30
AAA Toledo Mud Hens
55-81, 4th in West Division
It’s been a rough season for the Mud Hens, and it was another rough week, as they went just 2-5 and lost three times after taking the lead into the 8th inning. They played five consecutive games against the Columbus Clippers, losing four times, and then they came home to split two games against the Indianapolis Indians. Saturday night’s 4-3 win came on a walk-off double from catcher Manny Pina and earned lefty reliever Joe Mantiply his first win at the AAA level. The week’s other win went to Kyle Ryan, who continued his recent run of strong performances by giving up just one earned run in 7 1/3 innings. He has now earned a win in four consecutive outings.
- Catcher Bryan Holaday suffered what looked like a season-ending injury just two weeks ago, but it turned out to be a simple sprained thumb, and he returned strong last week by going 5-for-10 with a couple of doubles.
- Lefty reliever Ian Krol entered the week with terrific numbers in AAA this season, sporting a 0.70 ERA and just 12 hits against in 25 2/3 innings. Those numbers took a big hit last week, however, as he surrendered seven hits and five earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings, boosting his ERA to 2.25.
- First baseman/DH Dean Green first moved up to Toledo in late July, but struggled a bit, hitting just .205 in 12 games before being sent back to Erie. His return to the Mud Hens has gone much better, as he has an 7-game hitting streak, went 8-for-21 last week, and hit his first AAA home run on Thursday.
AA Erie SeaWolves
58-75, 6th in Western Division
The SeaWolves split their eight games last week, winnings two and losing two at Binghamton, and then returning home to split four with the Harrisburg Senators. The week started with a rough 10-1 loss that saw starting pitcher Tommy Collier give up nine earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. The squad bounced back the next day to take both ends of a doubleheader, but they lost the series finale 3-1. Erie then wrapped two one-run wins around a 14-1 thrashing on Friday night. Thursday’s 5-4 win saw first baseman Dominic Ficociello hit two homers and knock in all five runs, while the squad won in walk-off fashion on Saturday thanks to a single from Jeff McVaney. Gabe Hemmer picked up his first AA win in that game, although he also gave up his first run at the level, and just his seventh earned run in 58 1/3 innings this year. Other wins went to starters Chad Green and Michael Fulmer, and closer Paul Voelker.
- Green had his best week of the season on the mound, starting twice and giving up just one run over 13 innings while striking out 14. His ERA now stands at 4.10, the lowest it has been all year, and he’s third in the league with 129 strikeouts.
- Outfielder Wynton Bernard continued his strong season, going 11-for-26 with 7 walks, and he also stole his 40th base of the year.
- Bernard, designated hitter Dean Green, and Fulmer were all named Eastern League Postseason All-Stars. Fulmer was also named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year, the first time a pitcher from Erie has taken home the honor, and the first Tigers prospect to win a AA pitching award since Francisco Cordero in 1999.
A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
17-41, 6th in the 2nd half, 50-77, 6th overall in North Division
A day off on Wednesday and a rainout on Sunday meant the Flying Tigers played just five times last week, going 2-3. They started the week by splitting two games against Brevard County, with each team earning a 2-1 victory. The squad then went on the road to Dunedin, where they pulled out a 9-8 win on Thursday, but lost the next two games 4-1 and 6-5. Starter Kevin Ziomek continued his strong August performance by giving up just one run over six innings in Tuesday’s rain-shortened win, while reliever Tyler Ford picked up his first win of the year on Thursday.
- Lefty Jairo Labourt is one of the organization’s better prospects, but he continued to struggle last week, giving up four runs over five innings, though he did strike out nine. Since coming to the organization in the David Price trade, Labourt is 0-5 with a 7.45 ERA, 41 hits allowed, 14 walks, and 29 strikeouts in 29 innings.
- Outfielder Ben Verlander had one of his best weeks of the season, going 8-for-21 with two doubles. It’s been a rough year, however, and his strong week only raised his average to .212.
- Catcher Grayson Greiner knows about rough years too, as he has hit just .186 in 84 games this season. But, like Verlander, Greiner had a solid week, going 5-for-14 with two doubles.
A West Michigan Whitecaps
37-25, 2nd in the 2nd half, 70-61, 3rd overall in Eastern Division
It was another positive week in West Michigan, as the the Whitecaps won four of their seven contests, and reduced their playoff magic number to three. The team dropped their first game of the week, but then reeled off three consecutive wins, including a nice 4-3 victory on Wednesday when outfielder Christin Stewart hit a three-run triple in the bottom of the 8th to put the Whitecaps up for good. Starters Artie Lewicki, A.J. Ladwig, and Ross Seaton all picked up wins on the week, while closer Joe Jimenez earned the W in Wednesday’s come-from-behind win.
- No one in the organization is hotter right now that shortstop A.J. Simcox. This year’s 14th-round pick has hit safely in nine consecutive games, and last week he went 15-for-31 with six runs scored. He is now hitting .400 through 13 games in West Michigan.
- Lewicki was terrific in his win, pitching a season high seven innings and giving up just four hits and two runs while striking out nine. He missed two months at the beginning of the year, but has now put together two very strong months in a row, and he went 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA, 23 hits allowed, and 30 strikeouts in 24 August innings.
- In addition to his win, Jimenez also picked up a save, pitching three perfect innings on the week. In his career, the 20-year-old fireballer now owns an 11-3 record with 21 saves in 25 chances, a 1.68 ERA, and he has given up just 53 hits and 23 walks while striking out 123 batters in 85 2/3 innings.
Short-Season A Connecticut Tigers
31-33, 3rd in Stedler Division
The Connecticut Tigers dropped four of seven last week, and fell to 4 1/2 games out of first place with just nine games left in their season. They started the week with two tough, high-scoring losses at the Tri-City ValleyCats, but then reeled off three consecutive close wins, only to drop their final two games of the week. Ryan Castellanos made two strong starts, while Tyler Alexander and Sandy Baez both chipped in with good outings of their own, though none of them factored in any decisions. Spenser Watkins did pick up a win, however, by giving up just three hits over seven scoreless innings on Friday night.
- Baez has been outstanding for about six week now, and in August he he posted a 2-0 record with a 1.55 ERA, with 21 hits allowed, 5 walks, and 21 strikeouts in 29 innings.
- Catcher Will Allen continued his strong play, going 8-for-25 with three walks. His .314 average is good for 5th in the league.
- Right-handed pitcher Chase Edwards had a very tough week, and he probably won’t be sad to see August end. He gave up 16 hits and 15 earned runs in just six innings last week, and his August ERA is an unsightly 9.13.
Gulf Coast League Tigers
36-23, 1st in Northeast Division
The GCL Tigers went 4-3 in a highly eventful week, beginning the action by tossing an 8-inning no-hitter against the Astros on Monday, and seeing their season officially come to an end on Sunday after a 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays in a one-game playoff semifinal. Both the no-hitter and the playoff loss were started by lefty Eudis Idrogo, and the game against the Blue Jays happened to be his worst outing of the season. Toller Boardman also picked up a win as a starter, while Dean Aldridge and Eduardo Jimenez both picked up wins in relief. Aldridge took over after another terrific Beau Burrows outing (3IP, 2H, 6K), while Jimenez stepped in after Gregory Soto (6 2/3 IP, 6H, 8K) made his best start of the season.
- Center fielder Jose Azocar had an outstanding week, going 9-for-28, stealing his sixth base of the season, and collecting 10 RBIs. The young Venezuelan turned 19 in May, making him the third youngest position player on the team, and he finished the season with a .325 batting average, which was third best in the GCL.
- Jimenez struck out four batters in his 2 1/3 innings of relief on Friday, and the win was his first since July 17th, 2013 in the Venezuelan Summer League.
- Idrogo’s playoff loss was an unfortunate cap to what had been a terrific season for him. His 2.03 ERA was the sixth best among GCL pitchers with at least 40 innings, and he finished third in the league in batting average against, and second in the league in strikeout percentage.