May 9 -15 Detroit Tigers Minor League Recap: 'Wolves Walking Off

It was another solid week on the farm, with the four full-season affiliates combining to go 15-15. Last week in the minors we saw two surprising call-ups in Toledo, three consecutive walk-off wins in Erie, more impressive power in Lakeland, and the debut of an international signee in West Michigan.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 5/9 - 5/15

Toledo Mud Hens
16-20, T3rd in the West Division

It was a very busy week in Toledo, with the the Mud Hens playing eight times in seven days. But while the week began well enough, with three wins in five games against the Louisville Bats, the Hens were outscored 15-2 over the weekend and were swept by a very talented Lehigh Valley IronPigs squad. Australian native Warwick Saupold began his week with a seven-inning complete game win over Louisville in the first game of a doubleheader, and by Sunday he was making his second consecutive appearance at the big-league level, and picking up his first MLB win with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Outfielder Steven Moya went 2-for-3 in Saupold’s win on Monday, and a few days later he was also in the Majors, going 6-for-15 in four games for the Tigers. Relievers Angel Nesbitt and Chad Bell picked up the team’s other two wins on the week, while Bobby Parnell and Bruce Rondon each earned a save.

  • Saupold made his MLB debut after more than four seasons and over 500 innings pitched in the minors. He had only 14 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings as a starter for Toledo, but he punched out four Orioles on his way the the win on Sunday.

  • Outfielder Cameron Maybin went just 3-for-25 with a HR and three walks last week, but he was finally healthy enough to play in the field again and was promoted back to Detroit after Sunday’s game.

  • Lefty starter Matt Boyd gave up just two runs over seven innings in Sunday’s loss. His ERA climbed from 1.80 to 1.93, which is still good for 7th best in the International League.

Erie SeaWolves
16-19, 4th in the Western Division

Erie played seven games last week, and things started off very ugly, with three consecutive losses at Akron, and then a home loss to Bowie. But the SeaWolves finished the week in style, racking up three straight walk-off wins over the Baysox on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Pitching has been an issue for Erie all season, and that was the case again last week as the team gave up 45 runs, but the offense did come through with 37 runs of their own. The team’s three wins went to relievers Paul Voelker, Joe Mantiply, and Jose Valdez, though starters Tommy Collier (6IP, 0ER) and Matt Crouse (7IP, 1ER) both pitched very well. The offense was once again led by Dean Green, who had a monster week, going 8-for-29 with four home runs and 11 RBIs. Green wasn’t alone, though, as outfielders Connor Harrell (8-for-27, HR), Jason Krizan (11-for-32, 2HR), and Jeff McVaney (8-for-29, HR) all had strong weeks.

  • Green’s four home runs came on consecutive days, vaulting him into a tie for the second most longballs in the Eastern League with nine. He’s also second in the league in hits (40) and his 39 RBIs are ten more than any other player, but he needs a little help from his teammates, because he’s just 18th in runs scored (19).

  • Erie’s team ERA of 4.83 is nearly half-a-run worse than the next closest team, and almost two-and-a-half runs worse than league leader Hartford.

  • Catcher John Hicks went 8-for-16 last week, and went deep in the 10th inning on Friday night for the team’s first walk-off winner. The other two walkoffs came in the form of a Krizan homer on Saturday, and a two-run double from Austin Green on Sunday.

Lakeland Flying Tigers
21-16, 3rd in the North Division

Like Toledo, Lakeland played eight games last week to make up for an earlier rainout. The Flying Tigers fared better than the Mud Hens, however, shaking off some early issues to win five times. The week began with a 5-4 win over the Tampa, but then three consecutive losses to the Yankees dropped the Flygers to just one game over the .500 mark. Fortunately they turned things around quickly in Daytona, where they outscored the Tortugas 22-12 and swept a four-game series. The wins went to Jeff Thompson (5IP, 2ER), A.J. Ladwig (6 2/3, 2ER), Gage Smith (2 2/3, 2ER), Slade Smith (2IP, 0ER), and Endrys Briceno (5IP, 3ER), while Confesor Lara picked up one save, and Joe Jimenez took home three saves. Outfielder Christin Stewart continued to terrorize league pitchers, going 8-for-23 with nine walks, four home runs, two doubles, and ten RBIs. Offensive contributions came from all over the diamond though, as shortstop A.J. Simcox went 9-for-33, catchers Grayson Greiner and Kade Scivicque combined to go 15-for-48, and third baseman Zach Shepherd shook off his season-long struggles to go 7-for-22 with his first two home runs.

  • Stewart continues to hit for stunning power. His 13 home runs are currently the most in all of minor-league baseball, seven more than anyone else in the Florida State League this season, and just one fewer than the full-season totals of last year’s FSL home run leaders.

  • Outfielder Mike Gerber came into the season with a fair amount of prospect hype, and looked to be living up to it with three home runs in his first seven games. But he has struggled for much of the season, is hitting just .219 through 36 games, and leads the league with 50 strikeouts.

  • The Flying Tigers are just 7-10 in the friendly confines of Joker Marchant Stadium this year, but they are an FSL-best 14-6 on the road.

West Michigan Whitecaps
18-16 T4th in the Eastern Division

The Whitecaps had a solid, 4-3 week and moved up two spots in the standings thanks to a few offensive outbursts and a couple of outstanding pitching performances. The squad won their first game of the week at Lake County, then lost their next two to drop the series to the Captains, but they redeemed themselves by returning home to take three-of-four from the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Veteran infielder David Gonzalez led the way for the offense, going 11-for-29, while first baseman Will Allen provided a bit of thump, going 7-for-22 with 5RBIs and the team’s second home run of the season. The week’s wins went to starters Matt Hall and Trent Szkutnik, and relievers Toller Boardman and Jake Shull. Boardman also earned a save with four scoreless innings on Saturday, while closer Gerson Moreno locked up two saves of his own.

  • After beginning his career with 17 2/3 innings of relief, Kyle Dowdy made his first professional start on Sunday, throwing four scoreless innings. His 0.83 ERA is tied with Hall for best on the team, and if he qualified, would be good for second best in the Midwest League.

  • West Michigan’s two team home runs is the lowest total in the league, and there are 21 players who have more homers than the Whitecaps entire team.

  • Cuban signee Leonardo Laffita made his minor-league debut last week, playing four games at shortstop, where he made two errors, and going 3-for-13 with a double at the plate.

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