Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

June 27 - July 3 Detroit Tigers Minor League Recap: Much Ado About Dixon Machado

Last week in the minors featured the pro debuts of the Tigers top three 2016 draft picks. We also saw strong pitching lead to solid performances from rookie-level teams, a return to winning baseball in West Michigan, an ugly losing streak in Lakeland, an impressive AA debut in Erie, and a hot-hitting shortstop in Toledo.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 6/27 - 7/3

Toledo Mud Hens
36-47, 4th in the West Division

The Mud Hens had a busy, eight-game homestand that saw them drop two of three to the Norfolk Tides, but then take three of five from the Indianapolis Indians. The Tides took the first two games of their series, but Toledo managed to salvage one game thanks to multi-hit efforts from Dixon Machado, Casey McGehee, Tyler Collins, and Jeff McVaney, and another terrific start from Matt Crouse (7IP, 1ER, 3K). The first game against the Indians was an ugly 11-1 loss that included an 8-run 7th inning, but the Hens bounced back to take the next three contests, including both ends of a doubleheader on Friday. Buck Farmer (5IP, 3ER, 4K), Chad Bell (2IP, 3K), and Preston Guilmet (IP, K) joined Crouse as winners last week, while Bobby Parnell (4IP, 0ER, 4K) made four appearances and picked up three saves. The offense was led by Dixon Machado (14-for-32), but Dean Green (8-for-25, HR) also chipped in, and Chad Huffman (4-for-15, HR, 5R) was solid in his first game action in nearly two weeks.

  • Machado has been on fire for almost a month now, posting multiple hits in 14 of his last 24 games, and raising his triple slash line from .231/.322/.284 to .275/.349/.348.

  • Lefty Matt Boyd made two starts last week, giving up just seven hits and three runs while striking out 14 over 11 innings, but he he picked up two losses because the Mud Hens were shut out in both contests.

  • Parnell has now gone six consecutive outings without allowing a run, and his 15 total saves-plus-holds are the second most in the International League.

Erie SeaWolves
36-48, 4th in the Western Division

The SeaWolves had a tough 2-5 week, getting swept by the Reading Phillies in convincing fashion, and then splitting four games with the Akron RubberDucks. Monday’s contest in Reading ended when Jake Fox hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th against Adam Ravenelle, and things only got worse from there as the Phillies outscored Erie 21-3 in the next two contests. Tommy Collier (8IP, 2H, 0ER, 5K) was brilliant on Thursday, and Joe Jimenez (IP, 3K) pitched the 9th to close out a 1-0 win and pick up his sixth AA save, while Austin Kubitza picked up the week’s other win with two innings of relief on Saturday. Veteran infielder Corey Jones led the offense, going 12-for-22, while Wynton Bernard chipped in with a solid 10-for-28 week at the plate, and Dominic Ficociello continued his strong play, going 8-for-23.

  • Catcher Grayson Greiner has had a bit of a rough time adjusting to AA after hitting .312 over 31 games in Lakeland this season, but his bat perked up last week. He went 7-for-18, hit his first home run of the season, and raised his batting average by 41 points.

  • Starting pitcher Artie Lewicki has had an interesting season. He made three starts in Lakeland to begin the year, then missed six weeks of action. He returned to make two more starts for the Flying Tigers, then missed two more weeks, only to emerge in Erie last Saturday, where he made his best start of the year (5IP, 4H, 1ER, 8K).

  • The SeaWolves pitching staff has given up more hits (786), home runs (72), and earned runs (420) than any other team in the Eastern League.

Lakeland Flying Tigers
35-42 5th in the North Division, 1-8 6th in the Second Half

It was an ugly 0-5 week for Lakeland, with only poor weather seemingly capable of stopping their seven-game losing streak. Tyler Alexander gave up just one hit and one run over six innings against the Dunedin Blue Jays on Monday, but he was still saddled with the loss in a 2-1 contest, and the Flying Tigers didn’t get much closer than that to a win all week. They did take a 7-6 lead into the top of the 9th inning the following night, but newly promoted reliever Gerson Moreno had a terrible inning, and the team ended up losing 10-7. On Wednesday Matt Hall (6IP, 2ER, 8K) saw a fate similar to Alexander’s, picking up a loss because the offense couldn’t get much done. The week ended with a 5-1 loss, a postponement, a 9-2 loss, and a suspended game. Kade Scivicque (6-for-20) was the only player on the team who managed more than five hits last week, though five different players hit at least one home run.

  • The Flying Tigers finished May with a solid 28-24 record and an outside chance to make a run at first place. But an 8-17 June finds them well out of contention, and their 1-8 start to the second half of the season means they have quite a hole to dig out of.

  • Outfielder Christin Stewart went just 3-for-18 and struck out nine times last week, but he did hit his 18th homer (and he hit number 19 in Sunday’s suspended game, but it doesn’t count toward his season totals yet). He continues to pace the FSL in home runs and walks (57), and he’s the only player in the league slugging better than .500.

  • Moreno’s nightmare outing began with a ground out, but then included a hit batter, a passed ball, a walk, another hit batter, a wild pitch, a strikeout, and another walk. He was then pulled for Gabe Hemmer, who gave up a bases-clearing triple.

West Michigan Whitecaps
43-34 3rd in the Eastern Division, 4-6 6th in the Second Half

The Whitecaps shook off their 0-4 start to the second half and got back to their winning ways last week, going 4-2, and moving up two spots in the standings. The team split four games at home against the Bowling Green Hot Rods, but then took their first two games in Dayton against the Dragons, before Sunday’s contest was postponed. Wins went to starters Sandy Baez (6IP, 0ER, 4K), Fernando Perez (7IP, 4ER, 4K), and Kyle Dowdy (6IP, 2ER, 3K), and reliever Toller Boardman, while a pair of Smiths, Drew and Jordan, each picked up a save. No one player stood out on offense last week, but Brett Pirtle (7-for-18, 6R), Leonardo Laffita (7-for-22, HR, 6R), and Cam Gibson (7-for-19, HR, 6RBI) all had strong weeks.

  • Outfielder Derek Hill is just 1-for-8 to begin July, but the 2014 first-rounder just finished off the best month of his pro career, hitting .327/.372/.452 in 25 games in June, including his first ever 4-hit game last Wednesday.

  • With Matt Hall and Trent Szkutnik both pitching in Lakeland now, 2015 first-rounder Beau Burrows takes over as the Whitecaps’ staff ace. He was out of action for nearly two weeks, but returned to the mound on Tuesday with a solid performance, giving up three hits and two runs over six innings.

  • The Whitecaps don’t mind visiting Dayton at all. They are now 12-2 against the Dragons on the season, and 5-1 in the Dragons’ home park.

Connecticut Tigers
10-7 2nd in the Stedler Division

The Connecticut Tigers began the week with two tough losses, but then they reeled off four in a row before dropping Sunday’s contest, finishing with a solid 4-3 record. The offense couldn’t get much going to begin the week, scoring just four runs total in the two early losses, but then the bats took off a bit, plating 27 runs in the next five contests. Friday’s 5-3 win in Brooklyn was the most noteworthy game of the week, as the Tigers scored three times in the 10th inning to give 2016 5th round-pick Mark Ecker his first professional victory. The week’s other wins went to Locke St. John (6IP, 1ER, 3K), Yordy Cabrera (2IP, 5K), and Ryan Castellanos (6IP, 0ER, 4K). The offense was well-rounded, with solid contributions from Cole Bauml (10-for-21), Josh Lester (7-for-20, 5R), Sam Machonis (7-for-21, 5BB), and Will Savage (6-for-20, 6R).

  • The Tigers second pick in this year’s draft, fourth-rounder Kyle Funkhouser, made his pro debut last week, pitching in two contests. He pitched three scoreless innings and struck out three in his first start, but ran into trouble in his second outing, giving up four earned runs in his lone inning of work.

  • Bauml had a very difficult pro debut in 2015, hitting just .214 with no power in 37 GCL contests. Things seem to be trending upward for the 23-year-old outfielder, though, thanks in part to three consecutive three-hit games last week. The Canadian native has already eclipsed his walk and double totals for last season in just 13 games.

  • Eduardo Jimenez continues to pitch well as Connecticut’s closer, adding two more scoreless outings last week. The young Venezuelan hasn’t given up a run in six innings, has struck out nine batters, and has gone 4-for-4 in save chances.

GCL Tigers West
5-3 T2nd in the Northwest Division

It was an interesting week for both Tigers GCL affiliates as they met as opponents for the first time over the weekend. Both teams had solid 4-2 weeks, with the West squad splitting series with the Phillies and the East squad, and sweeping the Pirates in two games, while the East squad split with the Yankees East team, and swept the Blue Jays. The Phillies series featured some unusual late-inning offense, with the Tigers scoring a total of 11 runs in the series’ two 9th innings, including a six-run outburst to win Tuesday’s contest 6-2. The starting pitching was strong all week, with Daniel Gonzalez (5IP, 0ER, 5K) and Ken Figueroa (5 1/3IP, 2ER, 3K) picking up wins, and Francisco German (5IP, 1ER, 4K) and Jose Vasquez (6IP, 1ER, 5K) pitching well in no decisions.

  • Matt Manning, the Tigers first pick in the 2016 draft, made his professional debut on Saturday, and he was very impressive. The 18-year-old right hander was perfect through two innings, and he struck out six of the first seven batters he faced, before giving up a two doubles and two runs to end his afternoon.

  • Third baseman Randel Alcantara is the third-youngest position player on the team, but he had a terrific week, going 7-for-16 with two home runs and six RBI.

  • Manning wasn’t the only 2016 draftee to debut for the West team last week. He was joined by outfielder Jacob Robson (8th round), right-handed pitcher Brandyn Sittinger (17th), catcher Bryan Torres (23rd), and shortstop Dalton Britt (33rd).

GCL Tigers East
4-3 1st in the Northeast Division

The East squad was shut out 5-0 on Monday, and lost 6-2 to the West team on Saturday, but in between they went 4-0 and outscored their opponents 39-13. The offense was led by catcher Bryan Tejeda, who went 13-for-23 with three doubles, a triple, and nine RBI. Other big weeks came from shortstops Isrrael De La Cruz (8-for-20, 4BB, 2SB) and Jose Salas (7-for-20), and from outfielder Franklin Arian (8-for-23). The pitching was also strong, with Javier Villarroel (5IP, 1ER, 3K), Stanley Martinez (4IP, 0ER, 3K), and Xavier Javier (4IP, 1ER, 4K) all putting together nice starts.

  • Tejeda unleashed a monster game against his organizational mates on Friday. The 20-year-old Dominican native went 5-for-6 with two doubles, a triple, two runs scored, and six RBI.

  • Reliever Wladimir Pinto pitched three scoreless innings last week, and the 18-year-old Venezuelan righty has been spectacular thus far in his U.S. debut. It’s only four innings, but he hasn’t given up a hit or a walk yet, and has struck out nine.

  • Two rehabbing pitchers saw their second starts of the year last week, with Spencer Turnbull giving up two runs over three innings on Thursday, and Anthony Castro getting tagged for five runs in three innings on Friday.

DSL Tigers
10-14 6th in the San Pedro Division

The DSL Tigers moved up one spot in the rankings thanks to a solid 3-2 week that begin with great pitching and finished with great offense. On Monday it looked as if Alfredo Silva’s five strong innings of one-run ball would go to waste, but RBI singles from Jeffrei Melo and Juan Ramirez in the bottom of the 9th gave the Tigers a 3-2, walk-off win. Rain canceled Tuesday’s contest, leading to a doubleheader with the Rockies on Wednesday, which the Tigers split 1-0 and 0-4. The week ended with two high scoring affairs against the Nationals, with the Tigers giving up three runs in the bottom of the 9th on Thursday to lose a heartbreaker 8-7, but getting revenge the next day with a 13-8 win. Jesus Paricaguan (3IP, 0ER), Edgar Escalona (5IP, 0ER), and Jose Ramirez (2 1/3IP, 1ER, 4K) picked up the wins.

  • This first bullet point will remain dedicated to Juan Ramirez until he stops making a mockery of DSL pitching. The young outfielder went 7-for-17 last week with five RBI and four walks. His .360 batting average is good for 10th in the DSL, while his .486 on-base percentage is 4th best.

  • Silva and Perkyn Rodriguez have been the team’s two most effective pitchers so far this season, with Silva boasting a 1.20 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 15 innings, while Rodriguez has a 2-0 record, a 1.53 ERA, and 17 punchouts in 17 1/3 IP.

  • Saturday’s game against the Angels was suspended in the 2nd inning due to rain, but the Tigers have some work to do if they want to win when the game continues, as the Angels were in the midst of a 6-run inning.

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