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April 18-24 Weekly Detroit Tigers Minor League Recap: Hitless in Toledo

The minor league season is less than a month old, but chances are there won’t be a more eventful week all year. Last week in the minors we saw a 50-game suspension in West Michigan, an improbable comeback in Erie, and no-hitters in both Lakeland and Toledo.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 4/18 - 4/24

Toledo Mud Hens
7-7, 3rd in the West Division

Though Saturday was an historic night for the Mud Hens, the rest of the week was less than stellar, with the squad dropping five of its seven games. The Hens did keep their losses close, though, dropping only one game by more than two runs. Thad Weber and Warwick Saupold picked up the two wins, and Bobby Parnell earned the only save of the week, while the organization’s two brightest young starting pitchers struggled, with Daniel Norris giving up five runs in four innings on Wednesday, and Michael Fulmer giving up six runs in 4 1/3 innings on Friday. There were several solid offensive performances last week, including Chad Huffman (7-for-27, HR, 6 RBI), Casey McGehee (11-for-29), and Miguel Gonzalez (7-for-14, 5 BB), and Steven Moya shook off a rough 0-for-4 game on Saturday by going 3-for-4 on Sunday with two homers. But of course the story of the week was Saturday night’s win, when Saupold, an emergency fill-in for scheduled starter Matt Boyd, tossed five hitless innings against the Charlotte Knights. Relievers Preston Guilmet and Logan Kensing also blanked the Knights for the next three innings, and Parnell finished them off, getting a ground ball to first base to finish the no-no.

  • Toledo’s no-hitter was its first at Fifth Third Field, and the team’s first since 1996, when Randy Marshall and Mike Walker combined to no-hit Charlotte.

  • Gonzalez caught a no-hitter, and had a terrific week with the bat as well. He’s one game shy of qualifying for the batting title, but if he did, he would rank second in OBP (.486) and SLG (.621).

  • McGehee has recorded a hit in nine consecutive games, and he has reached base safely in all 14 games so far this season.

Erie SeaWolves
8-9, T2nd in the Western Division

The SeaWolves used a mid-week offensive outburst to win four consecutive games, finish 4-3, and climb one spot in the standings. The club hosted the Bowie Baysox to begin the week, scoring just three runs total in losses on Monday and Tuesday. But then the team found their bats, scoring 28 runs in the next four games to salvage one from the Baysox and take the first three at the Binghamton Mets. The highlight of that four-game streak came on Thursday night, when Erie won a back-and-forth affair by getting a two-out, two-run homer in the 9th inning from Austin Green to tie the game at 8, and then plating two more runs in the 10th to win. The pitching was up and down all week, but Tommy Collier (5IP, 1ER), Myles Jaye (6IP, 2ER), and Lucas Harrell (5IP, 1ER) all provided solid outings, while relievers Ruben Alaniz and Paul Voelker shut things down with six scoreless innings and two saves. Leadoff man Gustavo Nunez (7-for-22, 6 BB) helped jumpstart the offense, while Jason Krizan (10-for-27, 6 RBI) and Dean Green (8-for-25, 5 RBI) did most of the damage.

  • Alaniz and Voelker have combined to give up just 10 hits and 3 walks while striking out 24 over 15 scoreless innings. Alaniz owns a career .281 batting average against, but hitters are batting just .069 against him so far this season.

  • First baseman Dominic Ficociello had his best week of the season, going 7-for-28 with a HR. His .194 batting average may not seem impressive, but he began the week hitting just .118.

  • Nunez is tied for the league lead in hits(20), while Dean Green leads the league with 16 RBI.

Lakeland Flying Tigers
8-10, 4th in the North Division

The Flying Tigers dropped their opener at Bradenton, but bounced back at home to sweep Brevard County, only to get swept themselves by the visiting Dunedin Blue Jays over the weekend. The team suffered its first rainout of the year on Friday night, and then suffered the indignity of being no-hit in the seven-inning nightcap of Saturday’s makeup doubleheader. The pitching was terrific for most of the week, giving up just over two runs a game until Sunday’s 7-6 loss, with Jairo Labourt, Artie Lewicki, and A.J. Ladwig picking up the team’s three wins. Tyler Alexander took two losses last week, though he deserved better on Saturday, when he gave up just two hits and one run while striking out nine over five innings. The offense struggled for most of the week, with only A.J. Simcox (8-for-24, 5 RBI, 3 SB) and Christin Stewart (5-for-22, 2 HR, 6 BB) doing much damage at the dish.

  • Stewart now has six home runs on the season, which is the most in the league, tied for the second most in all of minor-league baseball, and more than four entire FSL teams. He’s on pace to hit 44 home runs.

  • Ladwig earned FSL Pitcher of the Week honors two weeks ago, and chipped in a solid 6-inning start on Wednesday. He’s among the league leaders in ERA(1.13) and WHIP(0.69).

  • The Lakeland pitching staff owns the 4th highest team ERA in the Florida State League(3.92), and they’ve given up the most home runs(12), but they do lead the league in strikeouts with 167.

West Michigan Whitecaps
9-8, 4th in the Eastern Division

The Whitecaps’ week began with the unfortunate news that starting pitcher Spenser Watkins, who had been very good in his first two outings, was suspended for 50 games following a second positive test for a drug of abuse. The team shook off that news to win Monday’s game against Lake County 9-3, though they lost their next two games. They bounced back with three consecutive wins over the last-place Dayton Dragons, but they dropped Sunday’s series finale to finish the week 4-3. The pitching staff was led by 2015 draft picks, with 6th rounder Matt Hall (6IP, 0ER, 5K) and 1st rounder Beau Burrows (5IP, 1ER, 6K) making very strong starts, and 12th rounder Kyle Dowdy, who replaced Watkins on the roster, making three appearances and picking up his first professional win on Saturday. The offense was paced by Will Maddox, who played five times and had five multi-hit games, going 11-for-18, and young outfielder Jose Azocar, who went 8-for-27 with 6 RBI.

  • Maddox’s .404 batting average is only the 3rd best in the Midwest League, and is more than .100 points lower than league leader Austin Allen, who has begun the year 27-for-53.

  • Hall’s 0.54 ERA is good for fourth in the league, and batters are only hitting .158 against him through 16 2/3 innings.

  • Jake Shull, another 2015 draft pick (11th round) also had a solid week, pitching four scoreless innings of relief. He and closer Gerson Moreno are the only two pitchers on the staff who have yet to surrender a run.

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