Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 8/8 - 8/14
Toledo Mud Hens
56-67, 4th in the West Division
It was another week that was fairly representative of the Mud Hens season, with the team going 3-4, losing a key member of the offense to the Tigers, and then adding a new pitcher from outside the organization. Toledo began the week with a hard-fought 6-5 win at the Indianapolis Indians, scoring five times in 5th inning, and then getting a two-out RBI single in the top of the 9th to win, but they couldn’t scratch across a run in Tuesday’s 3-0 home loss to Columbus, spoiling a solid start from Thad Weber (6IP, 2ER, 4K). The Clippers won 7-5 on Wednesday, but the Hens managed to salvage the series on Thursday thanks to a good start from Buck Farmer (6IP, 1ER, 5K), and multi-hit efforts from Alex Presley, Dixon Machado, Steven Moya, and Jordany Valdespin. The club then headed to Norfolk, where newly acquired starter Donn Roach (5IP, 0ER, 1K) impressed in his organizational debut, and the offense used a 14-hit attack to win 7-4. The Tides took the rest of the series, though, scoring four runs in the 8th on Saturday to spoil Myles Jaye’s gem (7 1/3IP, 1ER, 4K), and beating up on Weber in an 11-3 victory on Sunday.
- Dean Green continues to rake for Toledo. He drove in the winning run on Monday, went 9-for-27 with a home run and seven RBI on the week, and he now owns a 13-game hitting streak, and a 23-game on-base streak.
- The Tigers claimed Roach off Waivers from the Seattle Mariners and placed him on their 40-man roster. The 26-year-old native of Las Vegas now owns a 7-6 record and a 3.90 ERA for the season, with 63 strikeouts and 19 walks in 113 innings.
- Machado made the most of his short week in Toledo, going 7-for-17 with three runs scored, three RBI, and his third homer of the season before being called to the Tigers to replace the injured Jose Iglesias. The 24-year-old shortstop went 1-for-3 with a walk in his season debut for Detroit.
49-71, 6th in the Western Division
Despite some wet weather, Erie had a solid homestand last week, going 3-3, even though they were outscored 43-22. The action began on an exciting note on Tuesday, with the SeaWolves getting another strong start from Artie Lewicki (6IP, 1ER, 3K) and a ninth-inning walk-off double from Wynton Bernard to beat Portland 6-5. The Sea Dogs came back in a big way on Wednesday, putting together 22 hits in a 16-1 thrashing that was Erie’s most lopsided loss since June of 2013. Erie took the series on Thursday with a 5-2 win led by Tyler Alexander’s solid start (5IP, 2ER, 4K) and multi-hit games from Bernard, Gustavo Nunez, Anthony Gose, Corey Jones, and Austin Green. That offense disappeared the next night, however, as Hartford shut out the Wolves 6-0. Saturday’s game was washed out, leading to a Sunday doubleheader in which Erie took the high-scoring opening game 8-7, but surrendered four unearned runs in the nightcap, falling to the Yard Goats 7-2.
- Outfielder Mike Gerber has adjusted well to AA since getting promoted three weeks ago. He went 7-for-22 last week, including a 4-for-4 game on Sunday, and his on-base percentage and slugging percentage are both higher than they were in Lakeland. Fellow outfielder Christin Stewart found things a bit tougher in his first taste of AA, going just 3-for-22 with a HR, a walk, and nine strikeouts.
- Lewicki continues to quietly post terrific number after essentially skipping high-A ball (just 21 2/3 IP). He started twice last week, giving up just two earned runs in ten innings, while striking out six and walking one. He’s far from qualifying, but he leads all SeaWolves starters with a 3.21 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP, and both numbers would put him in the top five in the Eastern League.
- Anthony Gose spent his first few weeks in Erie in a horrible slump, but the former big-leaguer has picked things up in a big way lately. Last week he went 6-for-20 with a HR and five stolen bases. He’s hitting .366 with eight runs scored and ten RBI in his last ten games.
Lakeland Flying Tigers
52-63 5th in the North Division, 18-29 5th in the Second Half
The Flying Tigers were very busy last week, but they managed to temporarily halt their second-half swoon with a solid 5-3 record. They hosted Brevard County to begin the week, getting a solid rehab start from Spencer Turnbull (3IP, 1ER, 3K) and home runs from Zac Shepherd and Kade Scivicque in a 6-2 win on Monday. They fell 6-4 in a rain-shortened game on Tuesday, and pulled out a tight 2-1 victory in 17 innings on Wednesday, thanks to some outstanding pitching from Jeff Thompson (6 2/3IP, 0ER, 4K) and Jairo Labourt (4IP, 0ER, 1K), and a walk-off double from Shepherd. The club then hosted Clearwater for a four-game set, beginning with a doubleheader on Thursday. The Flying Tigers won 9-2 in the opener behind Endrys Briceno (6IP, 2ER, 6K), but they managed just four hits in a 1-0 loss in game two. They bested the Threshers 5-3 on Friday, but Clearwater evened the series on Saturday with a 5-2 triumph. The club then headed to Tampa for another epic game, eventually beating the Yankees 8-7 on an 11th-inning single from Wade Hinkle.
- Scivicque’s bat stayed red hot last week, as he went 13-for-34 with seven runs scored, six RBI, and three homers. He also threw out three of the four baserunners who tried to steal against him, and picked off another at first. Last year’s fourth-round pick is batting .296 with a .741 OPS in 48 games since the All-Star break.
- After spending the first four months of the season battling a shoulder injury, and then seeing his rehab starts hit a snag, Turnbull finally made it to the team he was supposed to be on all year. He made the most of his chances, too, starting twice last week and giving up just one run on three hits and no walks over eight innings, and striking out eight opposing batters.
- Outfielder Rashad Brown played two games for the Flying Tigers as a 19-year-old in 2013, but he hadn’t been back until last week. He hit liked he wants to stay a while, going 13-for-36 with three doubles and four runs scored.
West Michigan Whitecaps
61-53 3rd in the Eastern Division, 22-25 3rd in the Second Half
The Whitecaps probably had their worst week of the season, going 1-5, failing to score more than three runs in any game, and losing their star center fielder for the rest of the year. The slate began in Bowling Green, where the Hot Rods used single runs in the 8th and 9th innings to tie the game, and won 3-2 on a walk-off double in the 12th on Monday, and then came back the next day with a 5-2 triumph. The club limped home for a four-game set with in-state rival Lansing, but the offense stayed quiet in a 4-2 loss. Friday’s game headed into extra innings tied at 3, but it was suspended due to weather and continued on Saturday, where the Lugnuts scored twice in the 11th to win. West Michigan’s lone win of the week came later that night when catcher Arvicent Perez singled home the game-winner in the bottom of the 12th, but Lansing took the series with 4-2 win on Sunday, spoiling a strong start from Beau Burrows (5IP, 0ER, 2K).
- First baseman Will Allen went 5-for-19 with four walks last week. His 29 doubles rank sixth in the Midwest League, and the remarkably consistent 24-year-old has seen his batting average hover between .263 and .268 for the last 24 games.
- This year’s fifth-round pick Mark Ecker made his Midwest League debut with two outings last week, giving up just one hit and striking out three over 2 2/3IP. Meanwhile, fellow 2016 draftee Zac Houston has been having great success. He struck out seven in 3 2/3 innings last week, and he owns a 0.82 ERA for the Whitecaps.
- Center fielder Derek Hill has been beset by injuries in his short career, and it happened again last week when he hurt his arm. He needs surgery on his elbow, and will likely be out of action until at least next May. He finishes 2016 with a .266/.312/.349 batting line, and 35 steals in 41 chances.
31-25 2rd in the Stedler Division
Connecticut had another solid week, going 4-3 to climb back into second place in their division. The week didn’t begin terribly well, with the club dropping Monday’s contest at Aberdeen by a score of 6-3, but the team bounced back in a big way, sweeping three games at the Auburn Doubledays. Gregory Soto got things headed in the right direction with six innings of two-run ball on Tuesday, while the offense (13 runs) and 2016 draftees Austin Sodders (3IP, 0ER) and Kyle Funkhouser (3IP, 0ER, 5K) saw to it that the sweep was completed. The club returned home but couldn’t keep the winning streak alive, losing to Hudson Valley 6-3 on Friday, and 2-1 on Saturday, but they secured a winning week with an 8-2 triumph over the Renegades on Sunday.
- Two center fielders from the 2016 draft had interesting weeks for Connecticut. Daniel Woodrow (12th round), went 8-for-27 with five runs scored and a stolen base last week, while Jacob Robson (8th round) made his New York-Penn League debut, going 3-for-9 in three games, with four walks, three RBI, and his first professional home run.
- Soto was spectacular last week, picking up two wins by giving up just three earned runs over 12 innings, and recording eight strikeouts against no walks. The 21-year-old southpaw has given up more than two runs in only one of his eleven starts this year, and his 2.70 ERA is the 11th best in the NYPL.
- West Michigan clinched a playoff berth with a strong first-half of the season, but Connecticut represents the organization’s best chance to add another playoff team. They currently sit just one game behind first place Lowell, against whom they are 4-2 this season. They have six more games against the Spinners, and two more against the Tri-City ValleyCats, who currently sit just two games out of first.
GCL Tigers West
21-22 3rd in the Northwest Division
The Tigers West squad stayed in third place with a 3-3 week, and despite scoring just four runs in their first four games, they were able to split series with the Braves, Phillies, and Blue Jays,. Monday’s game was rained out, and Tuesday’s doubleheader saw them lose 4-0 to the Braves, and then come back to win 1-0. They topped the Phillies 2-1 the next day behind Matt Manning’s best pro start (3IP, 0H, 4K), but the bats remained quiet in a 7-1 loss the next day. The offense finally woke up over the weekend against the first place Blue Jays, with Jose Vasquez (5IP, 1ER, 3K) picking up the win and Hector Martinez, Randel Alcantara, Julio Martinez, and Andres Sthormes all knocking in at least two runs in a 9-1 victory. They had a chance to sweep the Jays on Saturday thanks to a terrific start from Ken Figueroa (5IP, 1ER, 7K), but Jose Lopez gave up three runs in the 8th and Burris Warner gave up another in the bottom of the 9th for a 5-4 walk-off loss.
- Hector Martinez continued his strong play, going 7-for-14 with two stolen bases to raise his batting average to a team-best .354. Julio Martinez, on the other hand, has struggled for most of the season, batting just .200 in 30 games, but he did pick up his first home run of the season over the weekend.
- Vasquez has given up just two earned runs in his last 13 innings, and his 2.54 season ERA ranks 13th in the GCL, while his 1.03 WHIP is seventh best.
- The Tigers West are tied for the GCL lead in team homers with 27, thanks mostly to Ignacio Valdez, who leads the league with eight, while first baseman Niko Buentello and third baseman Alcantara are both tied for fourth with five apiece.
GCL Tigers East
14-23 3rd in the Northeast Division
The Tigers East had a full week, going 4-3 in their seven games to stay within three games of the first place Braves. The same Monday rain that spoiled the action the for West squad also forced a Tuesday doubleheader for the East team, but they dropped both games to the Phillies by a combined score of 10-2. They had another doubleheader on Wednesday, topping the Yankees East 7-3 in the early game thanks to a six-run outburst in the fifth inning, but they managed just one hit in a 2-0 loss in the late game. They topped the Yankees again on Thursday behind solid relief work from Francisco German (4IP, 1ER, 4), and they finished the week by outscoring the Pirates 15-5 in two wins.
- Moises Nunez had a strong week at the plate, going 7-for-17 with five runs scored, five RBI, and his second HR of the season. The 19-year-old Dominican played six games as a catcher for the Tigers West club, but all eight of his games for the East team have come at first base.
- Side-armed reliever Kurt Spomer made two rehab appearance for the squad last week, giving up four hits and two runs while striking out two in three innings, before getting roughed up a bit in his return to Toledo on Sunday. The 27-year-old owns a 3.02 combined ERA between the GCL, AA, and AAA, with 46 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings.
- Shortstop Isrrael De La Cruz went just 2-for-13 last week, but those two hits were a double and a triple, and he also managed to steal two bases. His five triples are tied for fourth in the GCL, while his 17 steals rank second.
28-31 4th in the San Pedro Division
The Tigers shook off their rough 0-5 stretch to go 3-3 last week, but unfortunately the damage to their postseason chances had already been done. They did play solid baseball, however, splitting series with the Brewers, the Yankees2, and the Cardinals. Starter Jesus Paricaguan got things off on the right foot with five scoreless innings in Monday’s 3-2 win over the Brewers, though the offense was stymied the next day by eight shutout innings from Brewers starter Harold Chirino. The next three games were one-run affairs, with the Tigers squeaking out a 6-5 win over the Yankees2 on an 11th-inning walk-off error, but losing 4-3 on a walkoff the next day, and falling 3-2 to the Cardinals on Friday. They got payback against the Cards on Saturday, posting their best offensive output in two weeks in an 8-4 win.
- Breakout prospect Juan Ramirez played three times last week, going just 1-for-9 to drop his batting average to a season-low .318, but his fellow outfielder Jose Quero continued to shine, going 6-for-12 with a double and a triple to raise his batting average to .346.
- Venezuelan Perkyn Rodriguez returned to action last week after not pitching for more than a month. The 18-year-old righty struck out three and gave up one run on four hits in four innings, and he now owns a 1.73 ERA in 26 innings this season. .
- The Tigers are 14 1/2 games out of first place, and with just two weeks left in the season, they have officially been eliminated from playoff contention.