Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 8/31 - 9/06
AAA Toledo Mud Hens
60-83, 4th in West Division
The Mud Hens saved their best stretch of baseball for the final week of the season, going 5-2, and beginning the week with five consecutive wins, their longest streak of the year. The club swept the Louisville bats to begin the week, getting wins from starters Tim Melville and Warwick Saupold, and relievers Josh Zeid and Joe Mantiply. Zeid picked up another win on Friday, this time as a starter, but the Hens dropped their final two games of the week, losing at Indianapolis and at Columbus. The highlight of the week definitely came on Thursday, when Mantiply threw scoreless eighth and ninth innings, paving the way for catcher Manny Pina to hit a two-out, walk-off home run in Toledo’s last home game of the year, and the final home game in manager Larry Parrish’s career.
- Luis Cessa has struggled since being acquired from the Mets, but he made his finest Mud Hens start of the year on Monday, pitching seven scoreless innings and surrendering just four hits and one walk while striking out seven.
- Slugging outfielder Steven Moya couldn’t live up to the gaudy numbers he put up in AA last year, but on Friday he hit his 20th AAA home run of the season (23rd overall), making him the first Tigers prospect to hit at least 20 homers in Toledo a year after hitting at least 20 for Erie since Jeff Larish in 2007-08.
- Pina’s walk-off bomb was the most memorable moment, but he had a terrific week overall, going 10-for-21 with homers on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. He also raised his season batting average to .305, which bests his previous career high by nearly 30 points.
AA Erie SeaWolves
63-78, 6th in Western Division
The SeaWolves continued their recent run of solid play, going 5-3 last week and improving to 17-8 over their last 25 games. They began the week by splitting four games at Akron, and their final series of the year began with three wins over the first-place Bowie BaySox. They lost on Sunday, but they have a chance to end the year on a high note with the final game of their season coming on Monday. Strong pitching was the story for most of the week, as Erie held their opponents to two runs or less in five of their games, resulting in two wins for Josh Turley, one apiece for Chad Green and Whit Mayberry, and a tough-luck loss for Tommy Collier. The squad also got solid relief, with Paul Voelker, Melvin Mercedes, and Gabe Hemmer all picking up a save.
- Green’s win on Friday was his second consecutive scoreless outing, and served as a fine capper to a terrific final stretch of the season for him. In 54 innings pitched covering his last nine starts, the right-hander posted a 2.00 ERA with 52 hits allowed, 11 walks, and 53 strikeouts.
- Outfielder Wynton Bernard heads into the final game of the season leading the league in at-bats, hits, triples, and stolen bases. He currently has 159 hits on the year, and needs a four-hit game on Monday to tie Omar Infante’s club record, which was set in 2001.
- Fellow outfielder Jason Krizan finished his year with a bang, going 10-for-24 with two home runs in his final full week of action.
A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
22-43, 6th in the 2nd half, 55-79, 5th overall in North Division
Like the Mud Hens and SeaWolves before them, the Flying Tigers broke out some of their best baseball of the year in an otherwise rough season, going 5-2 on the week, and squeaking out of last place in the overall standings on the final day of games. The pitching was strong all week, giving up more than three runs just once, with Jonathan Maciel, Kevin Ziomek, Gage Smith, Jairo Labourt, and Endrys Briceno all picking up wins. Smith also earned a save, as did Whit Mayberry and Tyler Ford.
- The win for Labourt was his first for the Tigers organization, having gone 0-5 in his first six starts. The hard-throwing lefty has a very promising arm, but he finishes 2015 with the highest ERA (5.12) and walk rate (4.58 BB/9) in the Florida State League.
- Veteran third baseman Francisco Martinez hit his 10th home run of the season on Saturday, tying his career high, and making him one of just three players in the league with at least 10 homers and 20 steals.
- Ziomek pitched twice during the week, picking up a win and a loss despite giving up just two earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. He finishes the year with the most strikeouts (144) in the FSL, and while his 3.43 ERA was good for 10th best among qualified starters, his 2.39 FIP was tops in the league by a significant margin.
A West Michigan Whitecaps
41-28, 2nd in the 2nd half, 74-64, 2nd overall in Eastern Division
The Whitecaps had another positive week, going 4-3, moving into 2nd place in the overall standings with only one game left in the season, and clinching a playoff berth with a 1-0 win on Wednesday night. The week began with a tough 5-1 loss at the Great Lakes Loons, but the squad bounced back on Tuesday with a dominant 10-0 win the behind starter Spencer Turnbull. A.J. Ladwig, Jeff Thompson, and Johan Belisario also picked up wins, while Joe Jimenez and Gerson Moreno earned saves. The Whitecaps have one final regular season game at Great Lakes on Monday, before returning home to begin their best-of-three playoff series with the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Wednesday.
- Turnbull saved his best for last this season, giving up just one hit and two walks in 6 ? innings while striking out a career-high 12 in Tuesday’s win. The power righthander finishes with an 11-3 record, a 3.01 ERA, and zero home runs allowed in 116 2/3 innings this season. He is scheduled to start Wednesday’s playoff game.
- Outfielder Mike Gerber was the lone West Michigan player on the Midwest League postseason All-Star team, and on Tuesday he notched his 30th double of the season. He’s the first Whitecaps player with double-digit doubles, triples, home runs, and stolen bases in the same season since Michael Hollimon in 2006.
- Moreno spent most of his season with the short-season Connecticut squad, but he joined West Michigan on August 21st, and has thrown eight scoreless innings since, giving up just three hits and three walks while striking out nine. He’s the 3rd youngest player on the team, turning 20 this Thursday (the 10th).
- Third baseman Zach Shepherd is one of the two players younger than Moreno, but the young Aussie is done for the year with an injured left wrist. He finishes the year with a .245 batting average, 24 extra-base hits, 47 walks, 117 strikeouts, and 17 errors in 114 games.
Short-Season A Connecticut Tigers
35-37, 3rd in Stedler Division
The Connecticut Tigers went 4-4 in their final full week of the season, halving series with the Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones, and splitting their first two games against the division-leading Tri-City ValleyCats. Ryan Milton picked up two wins in long relief, while Logan Longwith got the win on Wednesday when catcher Will Allen hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 7th, and Matt Davenport earned the W in the Tigers final home game of the year on Friday.
- Allen’s walk-off was just one highlight in another very strong week. He went 12-for-30 with his 2nd HR of the year, and with one game left in the season he ranks second in batting with a .327 average and 8th with an on-base percentage of .391.
- Right-handed pitcher Spenser Watkins was promoted to West Michigan last week, but he’ll finish the season with the lowest ERA (2.23) in the New York-Penn League. He also finishes among the league leaders in opponent’s batting average, WHIP, and FIP.
- Lefty Tyler Alexander was limited to just three innings in 11 of his 12 starts for Connecticut because he threw more than 93 innings in college for TCU this season. But among pitchers in the NYPL with at least 35 innings under their belt, he ranks first in opponent’s batting average and WHIP, and in the top five in ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio.