Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 8/1 - 8/7
Toledo Mud Hens
53-63, 4th in the West Division
It was a busy week for Toledo, but the Mud Hens made the most of it, going 5-3 thanks to some terrific starting pitching performances. The week didn’t get off to the best start, with the Hens falling 4-1 to the visiting Louisville Bats on Monday, and then splitting a doubleheader on Tuesday. But then the club hit the road, taking two games in Louisville, and then two of three from the Indianapolis Indians. In four of their wins, Toledo held their opponent to just one run, with starters Warwick Saupold (12IP, 2ER, 7K), Chad Bell (5 1/3IP, 1ER, 5K), Daniel Norris (7IP, 1ER, 7K), and Buck Farmer (7IP, 1ER, 7K) all picking up wins. The waters in AAA don’t stay still for very long, though, and last week pitchers Myles Jaye and Cesar Ramos made their Mud Hens debuts, J.D. Martinez returned to the Majors, and Toledo lost its leading pitcher (Thad Weber, who was briefly sent to AA) and its leading hitter (Casey McGehee, who was called up to Detroit).
- With McGehee gone, Dean Green assumes the role of the team’s best hitter, and he made a strong case for that honor last week. He went 10-for-23 with his fifth AAA home run, and he has now reached base safely in 16 consecutive games.
- Norris’ terrific start may well be his last for the Mud Hens this season, as he is scheduled to return to Detroit to take Jordan Zimmermann’s spot in the Tigers rotation. Among International League pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched, Norris currently has the third best FIP (2.55), the third best HR/9 (0.25), and the fifth best K/9 rating (9.45).
- Shortstop Dixon Machado continued his strong, under-the-radar season last week, going 7-for-23 with ten walks and three stolen bases. The 24-year-old is hitting .260 with not much power, but he is third in the International League with 56 walks, and he’s tied for sixth with 17 stolen bases.
46-68, 6th in the Western Division
The SeaWolves played six games last week and lost four times, which is a fairly accurate representation of how their entire season has gone. All six games were on the road, with the first three coming in Portland against the Sea Dogs. Catcher Grayson Greiner’s sixth-inning single on Tuesday was the only thing that prevented Portland’s starter Teddy Stankiewicz from throwing a perfect game, while Wednesday’s 5-4 loss saw neither team score after the 5th inning. Erie salvaged one game in the series with a 9-3 win on Thursday, in which reliever Tommy Shirley (2IP, 0ER, 3K) picked up his first win in just his second appearance with the SeaWolves. The club then headed up to New Hampshire, where last year’s second-round pick Tyler Alexander (4 2/3IP, 5ER, 3K) made his AA debut in a 5-2 loss. Erie used a 15-hit attack and a strong start from Josh Turley (7IP, 1ER, 6K) to win 8-2 on Saturday, but they dropped the series in a 7-4 loss on Sunday.
- Starter Artie Lewicki gave up just one run in six innings on Tuesday, but he took the tough-luck loss in Stankiewicz’s near perfect game. Lewicki is used to that, though. The 24-year-old righthander has given up just five earned runs in 22 2/3IP (1.99 ERA) over his last four starts, but his record is just 1-3 in those games.
- Greiner didn’t just prevent his team from getting no-hit, he also went 6-for-17 with two home runs at the plate, he picked off a runner at second base, and cut down one of the two runners who tried to steal against him. After struggling to clear a .500 OPS last year, he has bounced back nicely with a .712 OPS this season.
- Reliever Adam Ravenelle gave up nine earned runs in his first 4 2/3IP in AA, but he’s given up just two earned runs in the 13 innings since. He has recorded just 13 strikeouts and 12 walks in 17 1/3 innings for Erie, but he has turned into a severe ground ball pitcher, with a league-leading 66% of the balls in play against him being hit on the ground.
Lakeland Flying Tigers
47-60 5th in the North Division, 13-26 5th in the Second Half
The Flying Tigers had yet another rough week, going 2-4 to fall to 13 games under .500 on the season. The pitching staff was very strong, but the normally potent offense fell silent, losing four low-scoring games. The week began with a doubleheader on Monday, with Lakeland falling to St. Lucie in game one, which was suspended in the second inning the day before. The Flying Tigers took game two behind a strong tandem pitching performance from Endrys Briceno (4IP, 0ER, 2K) and Jairo Labourt (3IP, 1ER, 1K) and a great day at the plate from outfielder Ismael Salgado (3-for-3, 3B, 2RBI). The club then welcomed the Tampa Yankees to Lakeland for a two-game set, with the Flygers losing 2-1 on Wednesday, but bouncing back with a 10-5 win the next day that featured a seven-run inning. Lakeland finished the week by dropping two tough, one-run games at Clearwater. They got the tying run to third base with two outs in the 9th on Friday, but Zac Shepherd struck out to end the game, and Labourt gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the 8th on Saturday to seal another 2-1 loss. Sunday’s game was postponed because of rain, and the league’s leading home-run hitter, Christin Stewart, was promoted to Erie that afternoon.
- Catcher Kade Scivicque has been a steady performer in the lineup all season, and he was strong last week, going 7-for-18 with two walks. He ranks second among all FSL catchers with 16 doubles and a .274 batting average.
- Lefty starter Matt Hall was promoted from West Michigan to Lakeland in late June, and he gave up four earned runs in his first high-A outing. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any outing since, and with Wednesday’s five shutout innings, he now owns a 3-1 record with a 2.77 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 39 innings for Lakeland.
- Infielder Anthony Pereira is a legitimate young prospect, but this season he has been moving around like an organizational player. He began the week with Connecticut, but spent the last three games in Lakeland, where he went 0-for-8 with two walks and four strikeouts. This year he has now played 14 games for Connecticut, 3 games for West Michigan, 3 games for Lakeland, and 4 games for Erie. He is hitting just .185 in those 24 games, but he does have eight walks and six doubles.
West Michigan Whitecaps
60-48 3rd in the Eastern Division, 21-20 3rd in the Second Half
West Michigan had a strong week, winning five times in eight games, and climbing one spot in the second-half standings. The week began with the Whitecaps falling 2-1 in 12 innings to the Lake County Captains, but the team came back the next day with a 3-1 win behind a strong performance from Spenser Watkins (7IP, 1ER, 8K). West Michigan then hosted Dayton for a four-game set, taking the first three games (including both halves of a Wednesday doubleheader) with a combination of solid offense and strong starting pitching from Eudis Idrogo (7IP, 1ER, 4K), Jordan Smith (5 2/3IP, 0ER, 9K), and Sandy Baez (6IP, 1ER, 2K). Smith didn’t get the win in his start, however, because the Whitecaps scored two runs in the bottom of the 7th inning and won on a walk-off wild pitch. The week ended at first-place Bowling Green, where the Hot Rods won on Saturday, but West Michigan came back strong on Sunday with an 8-3 victory.
- Outfielder Derek Hill had a good week, going 11-for-31 with seven runs scored, and he also stole his league-leading 34th and 35th bases. He did strike out 13 times in eight games, though, and his 102 punchouts on the season are the ninth most in the Midwest League.
- Starter Beau Burrows made two solid starts last week in his return from the DL after dealing with a blister issue. The 19-year-old hurler threw 9 1/3 innings, giving up two earned runs on seven hits and four walks, while striking out five.
- The Whitecaps are now 15-3 against Dayton this season, and they’ve outscored the basement-dwelling Dragons 79-43. The teams play three more times this year.
27-22 3rd in the Stedler Division
Connecticut jumped right back into the playoff mix with a strong 5-2 week led by terrific starting pitching and a few strong offensive showings. The week began in grand style with a 13-1 win over Vermont, with the Tigers bashing three home runs, and Blaise Salter, Josh Lester, Austin Athmann, and Mario Sanjur combining to go 12-for-20 with seven runs scored. The club added 13 more hits against the Lake Monsters in Tuesday’s 7-1 win, and starter Locke St. John made it count with seven innings of one-run ball. The club came home to host the last place Batavia, and starter Gregory Soto was spectacular, striking out eight over six scoreless innings in a 5-0 win. The Muckdogs turned the tables the next night with a 9-1 win, but Connecticut won the series on Friday with a ten-run, 14-hit attack led by Joey Havrilak, who reached base six times. Saturday’s game was rained out, so the Tigers finished their week by splitting a low-scoring doubleheader with the Aberdeen IronBirds on Sunday.
- Havrilak’s big-game was part of a terrific week that saw him go 10-for-24 with a HR, six runs scored, six RBI, and three stolen bases. The 24-year-old Pennsylvania native is third in the New York-Penn League with 25 walks, and his .389 on-base percentage ranks seventh.
- Recent draftees Austin Sodders (3IP, 0H, 1K) and Kyle Funkhouser (3IP, 0H, 4K) were both strong in their starts this week. Both are having their innings closely monitored after long college seasons, but together they own a 2.85 ERA with 40 strikeouts and just seven walks in 47 1/3 IP.
- Catcher Athmann had his best week as a pro, going 7-for-15 with three runs scored and his second home run of the season. He also threw out the only runner who tried to steal against him.
GCL Tigers West
18-19 3rd in the Northwest Division
The Tigers West squad fell to 11 games out of first place in their division after a 2-4 week. The action began with a rough, late-inning 3-1 loss to the Pirates that spoiled a strong rehab outing from Spencer Turnbull (4IP, 0H, 1K), and then the Bucs beat up on Anthony Castro (3 2/3IP, 12H, 6ER, 2K) on Tuesday for the two-game sweep. The club then took on the Tigers East team, battling back with single runs in the 8th and 9th innings to tie the game, but eventually falling 8-7 in 12. They finally broke into the win column on Thursday, besting their organizational mates 7-3 thanks in part to a strong game from second baseman Hector Martinez (3-5, 2RBI). The Tigers ended the week by splitting a pair of one-run games against the Yankees East squad, getting solid starting pitching from Jose Vasquez (5IP, 1ER, 3K) and Ken Figueroa (6IP, 1ER, 9K) in both contests.
- Martinez had a strong week, going 9-for-20, and the 19-year-old Dominican native has raised his batting average more than 150 points in the last month. His .329 average is good for third best in the GCL, but it’s relatively empty right now, because he has only three extra base hits.
- Matt Manning’s strange statistical season continued last Thursday when he gave up three runs on four hits over three innings, but also struck out six. This year’s ninth overall pick now has 27 strikeouts (and just four walks) in 17 1/3 IP, but he has also given up 20 hits, including 10 extra-base hits, and has committed two throwing errors.
- Ignacio Valdez continued his recent power surge, going 3-for-19 with his league-leading seventh and eighth home runs of the season. Seven of those bombs have come in his last 14 games, and while his .208 batting average is unimpressive, it sat at just .100 before his recent breakout.
GCL Tigers East
14-23 3rd in the Northeast Division
The Tigers East also went just 2-4 last week, getting swept in two low-scoring games against the Blue Jays before splitting series with the Tigers West and Yankees West. The Tigers actually outhit the Jays 10-9 in the two games, but a series of walks and hit batters cost the team late on Monday, and early on Tuesday. Their first win of the week came thanks to some wildness from the opposing team, with the East club besting the Tigers West in the 12th inning when Alexander Rodriguez scored on a wild pitch from Jorge Baez. Four errors cost them the second game in the series, and the team committed four miscues again the next day in a 6-3 loss to the Yankees, but the offense broke out on Saturday, with Moises Bello (3-for-4, R), Keyder Aristigueta (2-for-4, 2RBI), Allan Santos (3-for-4, 2R), and Jose Salas (2-for-3, 2RBI) all having good games.
- Two hard-throwing bullpen arms for the East squad had good weeks, and are in the midst of terrific seasons. Wladimir Pinto struck out five over three scoreless innings last week, while Carlos Lara gave up one run and struck out seven in four innings. On the season, Pinto has a 1.80 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 15 innings, while Lara sports a 0.95 ERA with 25 Ks in 19 innings.
- Aristigueta struggled in his first two pro seasons, hitting just .169 with no power, but he seems to have turned things around this year. He went 7-for-23 last week to raise his batting average to a team-leading .295, and on Wednesday he hit his first career home run.
- Ronaldo Lopez has quietly had a solid season, and last week he authored his first scoreless outing of the year, with five shutout innings on Monday. The 18-year-old Venezuelan now owns a 2.88 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 25 innings.
25-28 4th in the San Pedro Division
The week couldn’t have gone much worse for the DSL Tigers. They lost all five games they played, they were outscored 29-14, and their final chance to avoid a winless week was spoiled by rain on Saturday. The action began with the biggest loss of the week, a 9-3 trouncing at the hands of the Rockies, but the next day may have been their toughest loss. Alfredo Silva made a strong start (4 2/3IP, 0ER, 7K) and the Tigers scored twice in the top of the 9th to take a 4-3 lead, but Rockies first baseman Hidekel Gonzalez immediately hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the inning, and then he hit a two-run walk-off home run in the 11th. Edgar Escalona also had a solid start during the week (4IP, 0ER, 4K), but the club was swept by the Nationals, and finished the week by losing 3-1 to the Angels.
- Outfielder Juan Ramirez got back into the groove a bit last week, going 6-for-18 with two walks, three doubles, and four runs scored. The 17-year-old has fallen out of the top ten in batting average, but he still ranks fourth in runs (42), seventh in hits (62), sixth in triples (5), and fourth in walks (38).
- Silva’s strong outing lowered his ERA to 1.24, which is the eighth best in the DSL. He also leads the team with 38 strikeouts, but the 18-year-old lefty has also issued 18 walks in 36 1/3 innings.
- Catcher Gresuan Silverio struggled to a .209 batting average in June, but he turned things around in July, and he’s off to a great start in August. He went 6-for-14 at the plate, threw out three of the four runners who tried to steal against him, and back-picked a runner at first base.