Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 6/13 - 6/19
Toledo Mud Hens
30-39, 4th in the West Division
The Mud Hens came home last week looking to shake off a rough road trip, but Toledo wasn’t any nicer to the club as they dropped five of seven games to fall eight games behind the first-place Indianapolis Indians. The team’s losing streak stretched to five after they lost their first three contests against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but a Thursday win against the RailRiders, followed by a Friday win against Rochester made it appear the team was back on track. Unfortunately the Red Wings rode the strong pitching of Logan Darnell on Saturday and a seven-run sixth inning on Sunday to a series win. Offensive stars were hard to come by last week, though Dixon Machado (11-for-29) did his part. The team’s two wins went to Chad Bell (5 1/3IP, 2ER, 6K) and Daniel Norris (7IP, 0ER, 8K), while Bruce Rondon tossed three scoreless innings, picking up two saves, before being called up to the Tigers on Sunday.
- Norris’ start was his best of the season, and the 23-year-old lefty appears poised to return to the Tigers. After scuffling to a 9.98 ERA through his first six starts, he has produced a 2.76 ERA over his last seven outings, with 44 strikeouts and 14 walks in 42 1/3 innings.
- Machado has multiple hits in seven of his last ten games, and the slick-fielding shortstop is hitting .303/.347/.409 in June.
- Sunday’s game saw Mud Hens starting pitcher Thad Weber and manager Lloyd McClendon get ejected in the seven-run sixth inning, with McClendon kicking a pile of dirt onto home plate before exiting.
31-40, 4th in the Western Division
It has been a rough first half of the season in Erie, but the Seawolves just put together their best stretch of the year, stringing together seven consecutive wins, climbing one spot in the standings, and finishing with a 5-1 week. The reward for this hot play? Seeing their starting center fielder (Wynton Bernard) get designated for assignment, and watching their top run scorer (Jeff McVaney) and top run producer (Dean Green) get promoted to Toledo. Such is life in the minors. Erie’s offense showed up all week, scoring 22 runs in a three-game sweep at Akron, and plating 14 more back home against Bowie. Green once again led the offensive attack, going 7-for-16 with three home runs and 12 RBI in just four games, while Corey Jones (10-for-26, 5 RBI) and Connor Harrell (8-for-26) also had strong weeks at the plate. The pitching was solid for most of the week, with starters Tommy Collier (5IP, 2ER), Josh Turley (6IP, 2ER), and Myles Jaye (6IP, 3ER) picking up wins, and the other two victories falling to relievers Ruben Alaniz and Paul Voelker in extra innings. Saturday also saw the return of starting pitcher Spenser Watkins, who hadn’t played since April 14th due to suspension.
- At the time of his promotion, Green’s 16 HRs were good for third best in the Eastern League, and tied for the most in the entire Tigers organization. His 72 RBI not only led the league, but also stood as the most in all of organized baseball this season.
- Outfielder Ismael Salgado has been in the organization for five years, having never played more than 57 games in a single season. He made his AA debut on Saturday, entering as a pinch runner in the bottom of the ninth and scoring to tie the game at 4, before singling with two men on in the bottom of the 10th, making his first AA hit a walk-off winner.
- Voelker has had a roller coaster season. He gave up zero runs in 7 1/3 April innings, then posted an 11.42 ERA in May, but he’s back on track in June. He tossed three scoreless innings last week, lowering his June era to 1.86, and he picked up his first save since May 5th.
Lakeland Flying Tigers
33-32 4th in the North Division
The FSL All-Star Game meant it was a short week for the Flying Tigers -- at least it was supposed to be. The team went 2-2 in their four games, but they played five games worth of baseball thanks to an epic 18-inning loss against Tampa on Thursday. The positive highlight of the week came on Tuesday, when Lakeland scored six runs in just three innings against 2015 first rounder Tyler Jay, getting back-to-back-to-back home runs from Kade Scivicque, Mike Gerber, and Joey Pankake. Jeff Thompson, A.J. Ladwig, and Jairo Labourt all made strong starts, with the wins going to Thompson and hard-throwing reliever Malvin Martinez.
- Lakeland leads the FSL with 53 team home runs. Christin Stewart still ranks first in the league with 16, while Pankake is tied for seventh with 8, and Gerber and Zach Shepherd are tied for twelfth with six apiece.
- All six Flying Tigers saw action in Saturday night’s All-Star Game. Scivicque went 0-for-1 and Joey Pankake went 0-for-1 with a walk, while pitchers Ladwig and Tyler Alexander each pitched a scoreless inning. Adam Ravenelle also tossed a scoreless inning, and was credited with the win, while Stewart went 1-for-2 with a double and two walks, scoring the game’s lone run to take home the MVP award.
- Thursday’s 18-inning affair lasted four hours and fifty-four minutes, and included 14 different pitchers, 45 strikeouts, 31 runners left on base, and a 16th-inning ejection.
West Michigan Whitecaps
39-28 2nd in the Eastern Division
The Whitecaps had another winning week, going 4-3 to finish second in their first-half division standings, and clinching a playoff appearance for the third consecutive season. The week began on a strong note, with West Michigan taking its first two games at Fort Wayne, before Jacob Nix outdueled Beau Burrows in a battle of 2015 draft picks on Wednesday. The Whitecaps then traveled to Lansing where they once again took the first two games of a series, but the rival Lugnuts fought back with wins on Saturday and Sunday to earn a split of the four-game set. Apart from the 5-0 shutout on Wednesday, the offense was strong all week, with 41 runs in their six other contests. Will Maddox continued to lead the way, going 13-for-31, scoring eight times, and hitting his first professional home run. Derek Hill also continued his hot play, going 11-for-31 with five runs scored, five RBI, and his first HR of the season, while Will Allen had the best individual day, going 5-for-5 in Thursday’s 9-2 win. The pitching staff was also strong for most of the week, with Matt Hall (6IP, 1ER), Trent Szkuntik (6IP, 4ER), Kyle Dowdy (7IP, 2ER, 11K), and Fernando Perez (6IP, 0ER, 5K) picking up the wins.
- Hill has now played exactly as many games (53) as he did all of last year. His overall numbers from last season and this year are very similar, but he’s in the middle of his best month as a pro. He’s hitting .329/.375/.411, with five stolen bases in eight tries in June.
- Reliever Drew Smith was spectacular in his pro debut last year, but injuries kept him out of action until mid-May, and he struggled a bit once he got back on the mound. He seems to have turned things around though, striking out nine over four scoreless innings last week, and he has given up no runs and just four baserunners over his last 8 2/3 innings.
- Five Whitecaps players have been named to the Midwest League All-Star Classic, which takes place Tuesday, June 21st, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Joining infielders Maddox and David Gonzalez will be starting pitchers Hall and Dowdy, and closer Gerson Moreno.
2-1 2nd in the Stedler Division
The New York-Penn League kicked off its season on Friday night, so the CT Tigers were only able to get in three games, but they did end the week with a winning record. That prospect seemed unlikely after they lost 13-1 against Tri-City to begin the season, but they bounced back with a 9-5 win over the ValleyCats on Saturday, and they outlasted the Vermont Lake Monsters 3-1 in 13 innings on Sunday, in a game that was scoreless through 12. Connecticut plays Vermont twice more before making their 2016 home debut against the Brooklyn Cyclones on the 22nd.
- Outfielder Joey Havrilak spent most of 2015 in Connecticut, batting just .214 with four home runs in 52 games. He’s off to a torrid start in his return to the team, going 6-for-13 with a league best two homers and six RBI.
- Locke St. John, who also saw time for Connecticut last season, put together one of his best starts as a pro on Sunday, tossing six scoreless innings with just three hits and one walk, while striking out seven.
- Former infielder Yordy Cabrera made his organization debut with two appearances last week, pitching three scoreless innings and striking out four.
4-8 7th in the San Pedro Division
Down in the Dominican the DSL squad struggled through another tough week, winning just twice in six games. The week might have been even rougher if not for walk-off wins on Wednesday and Friday. That Friday win was the most exciting contest of the week, with the game heading to the 12th inning before promising young outfielder Juan Ramirez ended it with a walk-off triple.
- Ramirez is the second youngest player on the team, but he continues to lead the team in hits (17), triples (2), walks (10), and stolen bases (2).
- Pitcher Adonis Figuera didn’t pick up a win last week, but he did have the best individual performance, striking out three over five scoreless innings. The 18-year-old right hander has not surrendered a run in his first 12 innings this season.
- The Tigers still haven’t hit a home run as a team, their 45 runs is tied for the lowest total in the DSL, and their 122 total strikeouts is the most in the league.