Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 8/15 - 8/21
Toledo Mud Hens
58-71, 4th in the West Division
The Mud Hens had a rare late-season off day on Thursday, but that break didn’t prevent them from having another tough week, as they went just 2-4 and were swept in Columbus. They began the week hosting Syracuse, but they could only muster five hits in an 8-1 loss to the Chiefs. They only picked up six hits the next night, but they were more timely, and Buck Farmer (4 2/3IP, 1ER, 8K) and four relievers combined to rack up 18 strikeouts in a 4-3 win. The team left town in style on Wednesday, with Donn Roach (6IP, 1ER, 3K) keeping his team in the game long enough to author a three-run comeback that culminated with a JaCoby Jones single for a 4-3 walk-off win. Then came the day off, and an ugly trip to Columbus, where the Clippers outscored the Mud Hens 16-6. Toledo took a 5-1 lead in the 6th inning on Friday thanks to a solid start from Warwick Saupold (5IP, 1ER, 7K) and good production from Dean Green and Steven Moya, but Columbus scored ten times in the next two innings to win 11-5. Myles Jaye (7IP, 2ER, 8K) and Cesar Ramos (5IP, 2ER, 3K) pitched well over the weekend, but they both took losses because the offense was only able to score a single run.
- Moya sat on 16 home runs for more than two weeks before he launched his 17th on Friday. He had a solid week overall, going 5-for-15, and his .497 slugging percentage is the second highest in the International League.
- Farmer appears to have settled back in as the ace of the Mud Hens staff, despite some mild control troubles. He owns a 1.73 ERA over the last month, covering six starts and 36 1/3 innings, with 12 walks and 36 strikeouts.
- Veteran infielder Pedro Ciriaco joined the Mud Hens on Wednesday, going 2-for-17 in his first four games for Toledo. He’s the older brother of former Tigers prospect Audy Ciriaco, and both Audy and Pedro have played more in than 1,000 minor league games.
53-74, 5th in the Western Division
Late-season promotions (and a few demotions) have given the SeaWolves a bit of a boost, as they went 4-3 last week, and climbed a spot in the standings. Erie got off to a great start, taking three consecutive games at Harrisburg for their first road sweep since mid-June. Monday’s 13-4 win featured an 18-hit attack in which Christin Stewart scored four runs, Grayson Greiner had four hits, and Kody Eaves knocked in five runs. The bats managed just five hits on Tuesday, but Tyler Alexander (7IP, 1ER, 2K) did more than enough to secure a 4-2 win, while Wednesday’s game was a bit of a shootout, with four different Wolves knocking in a pair of runs for the 8-7 victory. Any good feelings were promptly erased, however, when Erie returned home for a four-game set with Reading and lost three in a row. The Fightin Phils put up 9 runs in the completion of a suspended game on Friday, then scored ten more in a seven-inning win in the nightcap. Reading’s third win of the series was a more reasonable 5-2 affair on Saturday, but Erie finally broke through on Sunday, getting multi-hit performances from seven different players in a 12-4 triumph.
- Stewart is still adjusting to the AA level, but he seemed to find his footing a bit last week, going 5-for-18 with four walks, a home run, and six runs scored. And while he’s not known for his defense, Stewart also threw out the speedy Roman Quinn at home on Sunday, his fourth outfield assist in just ten games in the field for Erie.
- Alexander has now made three starts at the AA level, and he has gotten progressively better in each outing. In his first start he gave up five earned runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings, while his second start was two earned runs on seven hits over five innings. Wednesday’s seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball earned him his first AA win.
- Infielders Kody Eaves and Corey Jones both had strong weeks at the plate, with Jones going 6-for-17 with seven runs scored and two home runs (to set a new career high of seven), while Eaves went 7-for-22 with a home run and seven RBI.
Lakeland Flying Tigers
56-66 5th in the North Division, 22-32 5th in the Second Half
Erie’s gains have largely meant Lakeland’s losses (though last week they also lost one of their best hitters to a trade), but it didn’t seem to bother the Flying Tigers, as they put together a solid 4-3 record. The week started with tight, 2-1 loss at Tampa that saw Jeff Thompson take the L despite six innings of one-run ball, but then the squad headed to Brevard County where the basement-dwelling Manatees offered little resistance. Ten of Lakeland’s eleven hits in Tuesday’s 8-5 win went for extra bases, including four doubles for Ben Verlander alone, while Wednesday’s 18-hit, 14-run victory featured just four extra-base knocks. Thursday’s 7-4 win included three-hit games from Ismael Salgado and Wade Hinkle and a solid start from Spencer Turnbull (5IP, 3ER, 5K), and Hinkle went 4-for-4 on Friday to help the Flying Tigers make it four in a row in a 6-5 win over Dunedin. The Blue Jays struck back, however, out-slugging Lakeland 22-16 in two wins over the weekend. Sunday’s game was relatively tame for a 12-7 contest, but Saturday’s 10-9 game was a wild affair that included eight home runs and the loss of an umpire, and saw Lakeland plate three in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game at eight, and hit a two-out homer in the bottom of the 11th to tie the game at nine, only to fall behind again in the 12th and strand the winning run at second base.
- With most of the younger prospects gone, veterans Hinkle and Verlander have stepped up to fill the offensive void. Hinkle went 12-for-29 last week with six runs scored and 8 RBI, while Verlander outdid him, going 14-for-26 with a HR and 13 RBI.
- Despite low strikeout totals, lefty Jairo Labourt continues to produce out of the bullpen for Lakeland. He gave up one run over 4 1/3 innings last week, lowering his August ERA to 2.19. The hard-throwing southpaw compiled an ugly 7.48 ERA in 43 1/3 innings as a starter, but he has turned into a groundball machine as a reliever, posting a 2.83 ERA in 41 1/3IP.
- The left side of Lakeland’s infield had a productive week. Shortstop A.J. Simcox went 12-for-34 with eight runs scored, while third baseman Zac Shepherd went just 4-for-22 with a home run, but he managed to walk 12 times and score six runs. Simcox leads the league with 128 hits and is third with 69 runs scored, while Shepherd is sixth in home runs (14) and walks (59).
West Michigan Whitecaps
64-57 3rd in the Eastern Division, 25-29 6th in the Second Half
It’s been a tale of two seasons for West Michigan, with the team earning a playoff berth in the first half and struggling to reach .500 in the second half. Last week it was a tale of two series, with the Whitecaps suffering a four-game sweep at Lake County, but then returning home to pull off a three-game sweep of Dayton. The first three losses to Lake Country were increasingly heartbreaking. Monday’s game was a relatively normal 2-1 loss in which the Caps only managed three hits, but Tuesday’s game saw the Captains plate three runs in the bottom of the 9th for a 5-4 win, and Wednesday’s outing went 16 innings before West Michigan lost on a walk-off single. The offense struggled on Thursday and Friday, scraping together just four hits in a 3-1 loss on Thursday, and eeking out a 2-1 win over Dayton on Friday, but the bats woke up over the weekend. Will Maddox went 4-for-5 with three RBI as part of a 12-hit attack on Saturday, while Sunday’s wild game saw West Michigan send ten men to the plate as part of a six-run 8th inning that helped them edge Dayton 8-7 and complete the sweep.
- Maddox’s 10-for-28 week helped keep him in the race for the Midwest League batting title. He is now hitting .341 on the season, five points behind leader Luis Arraez, and five points ahead of third-place Eloy Jimenez.
- Kyle Dowdy returned to action on Friday after missing a few turns in the rotation. The 23-year-old right hander gave up just one run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings to lower his ERA to 2.62 and pick up his team-best ninth win of the season.
- This season has been a bit of a struggle for 2015 fifth-rounder Cam Gibson, whose batting average topped out at .250 just two weeks into the season. He went 2-for-22 last week, but those two hits were his fifth and sixth home runs of the season. He leads the team in homers, and he’s third on the club with 19 stolen bases.
34-27 2rd in the Stedler Division
Connecticut had a bit of a short week because of Tuesday’s New York-Penn League All-Star Game, but the Tigers did manage to go 3-2 against the two teams directly ahead of them in the standings. The action began with an impressive 3-0 win over first-place Lowell on Wednesday, but the Spinners’ bats came alive the next two nights, winning 7-6 on a walk-off wild pitch on Thursday, and then unleashing a 19-hit attack to down Connecticut 11-3 on Friday. The Tigers then welcomed in wild card leaders Staten Island, but the starting pitchers weren’t terribly gracious hosts, with Gregory Soto (6IP, 1ER, 2K) and Locke St. John (7IP, 1ER, 5K) both twirling gems. Saturday’s game was the more exciting of the two contests, with Connecticut shortstop Daniel Pinero scoring in the bottom of the 9th on a throwing error for a 2-1 win.
- Center fielder Jacob Robson continued to swing a hot stick in his early NYPL career, going 7-for-18 with three doubles, a triple, and four walks last week. He also threw out a runner at second base on Thursday.
- Ryan Castellanos took one for the team on Friday, giving up nine earned runs on 16 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Those were six more hits and three more earned runs than his previous career highs, but he helped save the bullpen for the rest of the weekend.
- The Tigers sent four players to represent the North team in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Blaise Salter went 0-for-3 as the starting DH, while Austin Athmann went 0-for-2 as the starting catcher. Cole Bauml came off the bench to play right field and went 2-for-3 with a double, while St. John pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out two.
GCL Tigers West
26-24 3rd in the Northwest Division
The Tigers West had one of their best weeks of the season, going 5-2 to pull back above .500, but they are still 11 games behind the first place Blue Jays, and will be eliminated from playoff contention next week. The week began in grand fashion when, in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader, Anthony Castro (5IP, 6K) and Malvin Martinez (2IP, 3K) combined for a no-hitter. The celebration was cut short by the second game of the doubleheader, but the Tigers pulled that one out, too, with an infield single from Julio Martinez in the top of the ninth giving them a 7-6 win. They completed the three-game sweep on Tuesday with their pitchers racking up 13 strikeouts, led by Matt Manning (3IP, 2ER, 6K). All of the team’s next four games were one-run affairs, with the Tigers losing to the Pirates on a 10th-inning walk-off on Wednesday, but turning the tables the next day with a 10-inning walk-off single from Dalton Britt. The week ended with the West team’s final two meetings this season against the Tigers East, beginning with another 10-inning walk-off loss on Friday, but the week concluded with another strong performance from Castro (5IP, 1ER, 3K) in a 2-1 win.
- Castro’s combined no-hitter represents an early high point in his return from Tommy John surgery, a process chronicled by TigsTown. He now owns a 4.53 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 15 walks in 45 2/3 innings. The numbers aren’t spectacular, but his power stuff appears to have returned, and he has been able to go five innings in seven of his ten outings this year.
- Shortstop Chad Sedio had a very strong week, going 10-for-27 with three doubles, a triple, and eight RBI. The 22-year-old leads the team in extra-base hits, and ranks eighth in the GCL with a .456 slugging percentage.
- The Tigers West pitching staff ranks fifth in the GCL with 406 strikeouts, thanks in part to the bat-missing efforts of Castro, Ken Figueroa (43 in 51 1/3IP), and Manning (37 in 23 1/3IP).
GCL Tigers East
19-31 3rd in the Northeast Division
The Tigers East had a brutal week, going just 1-5 to drop to 4 1/2 games out of first place. The week began with an ugly 10-3 loss to the Braves, and then a disappointing 2-0 loss on Tuesday when rain ended the game in the 6th inning. A new opponent didn’t offer much relief, with the Tigers falling 10-8 to the Blue Jays on Wednesday, despite a valiant comeback effort that saw the club score five times in the final two innings. Then they fell 4-3 on Thursday on a 9th-inning walk-off single. The team’s only win of the week came against their organizational mates to the west, with Alexis Garcia doubling in a run in the bottom of the 10th for an 8-7 walk-off win on Friday. But Saturday saw the bats fall silent, with the team managing just three hits in a 2-1 loss.
- First baseman Moises Nunez went just 4-for-18 last week, but he had the game of his career in the team’s only win. The 19-year-old Dominican went 2-for-3 with two walks, a home run, five RBI, and his first stolen base of the season.
- Power relievers Carlos Lara and Wladimir Pinto continue to rack up the strikeouts this season, but both saw their ERAs rise last week with a couple of rough outings. Pinto gave up four earned runs in 2 2/3 innings to see his ERA rise from 1.50 to 3.05, while Lara surrendered two earned runs in 1 2/3 innings to bump his ERA from 0.84 to 1.57.
- The Tigers East rank last in the GCL with a .227 batting average and a .296 slugging percentage, while their .303 on-base percentage is third from the bottom.
31-34 4th in the San Pedro Division
The Tigers are playing solid baseball, going 3-3 for the second consecutive week, but they’ll need to win five of their final six games to avoid ending the season with a losing record. They got off to a solid start, sweeping two games from the Braves behind strong starting pitching from Alfredo Silva (5IP, 0ER, 5K) and Marlon Matute (4IP, 0ER, 2K) and a balanced offensive attack. The team then dropped two tough games to the first-place Rockies, losing 3-2 in both outings, despite out-slugging the Rockies and striking them out 21 times. The squad ended their week by splitting a series with the Nationals, winning 11-5 behind productive days from Irwin Chirinos, Mike Torres, and Melvin Ramos, but then losing 7-3 on Saturday when Silva had his worst outing of the season, giving up five runs in just 2/3 of an inning.
- Reliever Enrique De Pena was strong in his three innings of work last week, giving up just one hit while walking two and striking out five. The 20-year-old right-hander has a 2.03 ERA over his last ten outings, with 18 strikeouts and 10 walks in 13 1/3 innings.
- Infielder Mike Torres has struggled mightily in his first taste of pro ball, going just 11-for-84 in June and July. But the 18-year-old had a strong week, going 8-for-22 with six RBI, and he’s now hitting .302 in August.
- The Tigers final week includes two games with the Angels, who sit directly in front of them in the standings, and two games apiece with the Yankees2 and the Brewers, who are at the bottom of the division standings.