TigsTown.com - Bryan Green

April 11-17 Weekly Detroit Tigers Minor League Recap: Christin Stewart Shines

After combining to miss several games due to bad weather in the first partial week of minor league action, all four of the Tigers full-season affiliates played their full complement of games last week, and all four played fairly well. Last week in the minors we saw more major leaguers rehabbing in Toledo, powerful bats and a near no-hitter in Lakeland, a dominant bullpen in Erie, and plenty of strikeouts in West Michigan.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 4/11 - 4/17

Toledo Mud Hens
5-2, 1st in the West Division

The Mud Hens had Monday off after not playing since the prior Thursday due to inclement weather, but they stayed hot, winning four of their six games on the week. Pitchers carried the team early, posting shutouts on Tuesday and Thursday, and then the bats kicked in over the weekend, contributing 17 runs in wins on Friday and Saturday. Veterans Steven Moya (7-for-26), Dixon Machado (4-for-13, 2BB), and Miguel Gonzalez (4-for-15, HR) led the way on offense, while starters Michael Fulmer, Thad Weber, Josh Turley, and Lucas Harrell each picked up a win. Pitchers Alex Wilson (2G, 1 2/3 IP, 1ER) and Blaine Hardy (2G, 1 2/3 IP) continued their rehab assignments, as did outfielder Cameron Maybin (5-for-24, 4 RBIs), though Maybin left Sunday’s extra-innings affair early after being hit by a pitch on the same hand he broke in spring training. In more troubling news, embattled reliever Bruce Rondon suffered another setback after injuring his hamstring during pre-game warmups on Wednesday.

    • Fulmer pitched twice last week, giving up just one earned run and striking out 14 over 11 innings.

    • Moya hasn’t been able to recapture the magic of his 2-HR opening game, but he has managed to get a hit in all seven games so far in 2016.

    • It likely means little in the long run, but Toledo’s 5-2 start to the season is the team’s best opening week since going 6-1 in 2009.

Erie SeaWolves
4-6, T3rd in the Western Division

Erie began the week by scoring nine runs in a loss, and ended the week getting shutout, but in between they went 3-2 and saw some impressive relief performances. Veteran shortstop Gustavo Nunez was the offensive star of the week, going 9-for-29 with four walks and five RBIs, though Dean Green and Tyler Bortnick also made their presence known as they knocked in eight runs apiece. The three wins went to starters Austin Kubitza and Cory Riordan, as well as reliever Kurt Spomer, who threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out seven during the week. Fellow bullpen arms Matt Crouse, Ruben Alaniz, Joe Mantiply, and Paul Voelker joined forces to add another 14 innings of scoreless relief, with 18 strikeouts.

    • In an early-season quirk, first baseman Dominic Ficociello is second on the team with six runs scored, despite recording only four hits and three walks in 37 plate appearances.

    • Riordan has a 2.53 ERA through two starts, but he has only given up five hits and two walks in 10 2/3 innings, and his 0.66 WHIP is good for fifth in the Eastern League.

    • Outfielder Connor Harrell had a very solid, 7-for-17 week at the plate. He sports a .286 average, but he has also struck out 16 times in nine games, leading to a BABIP of .636.

Lakeland Flying Tigers
5-6, 3rd in the North Division

The Flying Tigers had a solid 4-3 week, splitting a four-game home series with the Jupiter Hammerheads, and taking two of three at the Bradenton Marauders. The offense was solid all week, averaging nearly five runs per game, though the bats did go quiet in a 1-0 loss on Sunday. Contributions came from all around, though outfielder Christin Stewart led the way with an 8-for 29 week, bashing three home runs and two doubles, and knocking in seven runs. A.J. Simcox (7-for-24, 4BB), Kade Scivicque (7-for-24, 5BB) and Mike Gerber (7-for-30, HR) also had solid weeks, while veterans Wade Hinkle (6-for-18) and Jared Reaves (5 RBIs) also chipped in. Adam Ravenelle, Adenson Verastegui, and A.J. Ladwig all picked up wins in relief last week, and Verastegui’s 2 1/3 scoreless innings were part of a near no-hitter that lasted until the 7th inning on Thursday night. Closer Joe Jimenez made his season debut last week, throwing single innings on Tuesday and Thursday, giving up just one hit and striking out five.

    • Jimenez’s career numbers continue to grow more impressive. With his two outings last week, he now sports a career 1.62 ERA over 89 2/3 innings, and he has surrendered just 55 hits and 23 walks while striking out 131.

    • Ladwig has only pitched twice this season, but both relief outings were spectacular. On Friday he threw four scoreless innings, and for the year he hasn’t given up a run or a walk in ten innings.

    • Stewart’s four home runs are second most in the Florida State League. Three FSL teams have fewer HRs through 11 games: the Fort Myers Miracle (3), the St. Lucie Mets (3), and the Palm Beach Cardinals (0).

West Michigan Whitecaps
5-5, T4th in the Eastern Division
3-4 week

West Michigan had a rough start to the week, getting swept at home in a three-game series by the Lake County Captains. But the squad bounced back on the road and won their first three games against the Dayton Dragons, only to lose the finale 1-0. Young starters Beau Burrows, Eudis Idrogo, and Sandy Baez took the losses to Lake County, but the veterans Spenser Watkins (6IP 1H 0ER 9K) and Fernando Perez (6IP 5H 1ER 9K) and 2015 draftee Matt Hall (6 2/3 IP 1H 4BB 9K) held Dayton’s bats in check. Burrows bounced back from his rough A-ball debut on Monday with a very strong outing on Sunday (5IP 2H 0ER 4K), but the offense couldn’t score any runs for him. The bats in general were up and down for most of the week, though several hitters made solid impressions at the plate. Young Jose Azocar continues to make contact at a high rate, going 9-for-23 with just four strikeouts, while infielder Steven Fuentes is off to a hot start, going 6-for-16 last week to raise his batting average to .321. Outfielder Derek Hill had the most productive week, going 8-for-26 with two doubles, two triples, four stolen bases, five RBIs, and six runs scored, but he also struck out 11 times.

    • Fernando Perez had a very difficult 2015 season in West Michigan, going just 2-12 with a 4.51 ERA, but he’s off to a terrific start in 2016, with just one earned run and five hits allowed in ten innings, with 16 strikeouts. His 9K effort on Friday marked a new career high for him.

    • The Whitecaps’ pitching staff still hasn’t allowed a home run on the season, and they are the only team in the Midwest League that can make that claim.

    • Shane Zeile hit West Michigan’s first, and only, home run of the season on Thursday, part of a four RBI night for the young catcher.

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