TigsTown.com - Bryan Green

April 17 - April 23 Detroit Tigers Minor League Recap: The Zac Shepherd and the Beau Burrows

The tables turned a bit last week as the affiliates at the upper levels struggled while the A-ball teams performed well. We saw a West Michigan pitcher pick up a win, a loss, and a save in the span of six games, a strong week from one of the system’s top outfielders in Erie, a one-man offense in Toledo, and dominant performances from a pitcher and an infielder in Lakeland. Head inside to get the full recap.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 4/17 - 4/23

Toledo Mud Hens
9-7, 1st in the West Division

A rash of injuries for the Tigers and some uncooperative weather made for a tumultuous week for the Mud Hens, and perhaps that was reflected in their 1-4 record, though they still finished the week in first place. The Hens had Monday off before heading on a six-game road trip to Syracuse and Lehigh Valley, but the club apparently forgot to pack their bats, because they scored just six runs total in their five outings. Tuesday’s contest with the Chiefs was tied at 2 until the 8th inning when catcher Bryan Holaday threw the ball away after an attempted sacrifice bunt, and Toledo fell 3-2. Rain canceled Wednesday’s game, and it also washed out the second half of the makeup doubleheader on Thursday, with Chad Bell (5IP, 4H, ER, 4K) getting the tough luck loss in a 1-0 defeat in game one. Wet grounds kept the club from playing in Lehigh Valley on Friday, so the teams played two on Saturday, with the Hens picking up their only win of the week in game one behind Drew VerHagen (5IP, 5H, 2ER, 3K) and RBIs from James Loney, Efren Navarro, and Steven Moya. But the Iron Pigs beat up on William Cuevas (0IP, 1H, 4ER, 4BB) in game two, and on Sunday former Tigers prospect Jake Thompson handed them their second 1-0 defeat of the week, spoiling a strong start by Buck Farmer (7IP, 5H, ER, 5K).

  • Bell and Farmer must be cursing their bad luck so far this season. The duo have combined for a 2.35 ERA with 40 strikeouts and just nine walks over 38 1/3 innings, and yet they own an 0-3 record.

  • Loney made his Mud Hens debut last week and went 4-for-16 with two walks in his five games, but veteran third baseman Michael Almanzar was basically Toledo’s entire offense on the week. The 26-year-old went 7-for-14 and knocked in half of the team’s six runs.

  • Rule 5 pickup Daniel Stumpf was very good in his two outings last week, giving up just one walk and striking out four over two scoreless innings. He has now given up just two hits and one run while striking out eight batters in 7 1/3 innings, and is well positioned to be the next call up when the Tigers need a lefty reliever.

Erie SeaWolves
6-3, 3rd in the Western Division

Erie also suffered from some offensive woes last week, though not nearly to the extent Toledo did, but their pitching didn’t help much either and the club was outscored 26-22 en route to a 2-4 record. Things started well, with Anthony Vasquez giving up just one unearned run in 5 1/3 innings and the Wolves knocking out 15 hits for a 7-1 victory over Altoona on Monday, but the team then lost three consecutive games. The Curve scored three times off Josh Turley and Sean Donatello in the late innings on Tuesday for a 6-3 win, while both Wednesday’s loss to Altoona and Friday’s loss to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies came by the score of 8-3, with the latter outing spoiling the second 4-hit game of Christin Stewart’s career. Erie got back into the win column with a 5-1 triumph on Saturday thanks to a strong start from Matt Crouse (6IP, 4H, ER, 3K) and timely hits from Jeff McVaney and Logan Watkins, but the bats went silent again on Sunday in a 2-1 loss. The SeaWolves mounted a small rally in the 9th, and had the bases loaded with only one out, but Grayson Greiner popped out, and Kody Eaves flew out to end the game.

  • Jason Krizan (9-for-20, 5 RBI), Dominic Ficociello (8-for-21, 3 2B), and Stewart (7-for-23) all had solid weeks at the plate, but Mike Gerber put up his best week of the season, going 7-for-23 with a homer, a double, four runs scored, four RBIs, three walks, and two stolen bases.

  • Vasquez made two terrific starts on the week, giving up just two earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. His 1.96 ERA ranks ninth in the Eastern League, but with 21 hits allowed and just 10 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings, the 30-year-old lefty may be in for a bit of regression.

  • Greiner was one of the system’s best stories last year when he hit for power and solid average with Erie, but he’s off to a rough start this season, hitting just .177 with two extra-base hits and 15 strikeouts in 11 games.

Lakeland Flying Tigers
10-8, T2nd in the North Division

The Flying Tigers shook off their rough 2-5 record two weeks ago and flipped things around with a strong 5-2 homestand to jump three spots in the early standings. They began by splitting a four-game set with the Jupiter Hammerheads, winning with four late runs on Monday, and then plating five in the first inning of an 8-4 win on Tuesday, with relievers Zac Reininger (3IP, 2H, 2K) and Drew Smith (2 1/3, H, 3K) picking up the wins. Jupiter fought back with a close 3-2 win and a not-so-close 6-1 victory, despite striking out 27 times in the two games, including 11 times alone against Matt Hall on Thursday, a new career high for Lakeland’s lefty. The club then welcomed in the Tampa Yankees and summarily handed them a broom and three losses. Third baseman Zac Shepherd hit his first home run of the year on Friday, and that was all the team needed thanks to a dominant performance from Beau Burrows (7IP, 4H, 8K). Shepherd went yard again on Saturday as part of a 5-RBI night and A.J. Ladwig (8IP, 4H, ER, 4K) did the rest to lock down a 7-2 win, and the Flygers used a solid start from Spencer Turnbull (5IP, 5H, ER, 2K) and a 3-for-3 day from Ben Verlander to finish the series with a 7-3 victory on Sunday.

  • Burrows’ seven-inning outing was the longest of his career, and it lowered his season ERA to 0.81, fourth best in the Florida State League. Perhaps most importantly, the young Texan fireballer is striking out 8.5 batters per nine innings, after whiffing just 6.2 per nine last season.

  • Verlander went 7-for-15 with 4 RBIs last week, but Shepherd went absolutely nuts, going 10-for-25 with two homers, three doubles, and 11 RBIs. His 5-RBI game set a new career high, and the 21-year-old Aussie has never had a more productive week as a pro.

  • It was a tale of two weeks for relievers Jairo Labourt and Gerson Moreno. Moreno pitched twice and gave up four hits, four earned runs, and five walks in just a single inning to raise his season ERA to 7.94, while Labourt threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings over three outings to lower his ERA to 0.93. The 23-year-old southpaw also has 15 strikeouts and just two walks in 9 2/3 innings, and he may finally be heading for AA after 2+ seasons in the FSL.

West Michigan Whitecaps
9-8, T3rd in the Eastern Division

The Whitecaps are still playing an awful lot of low-scoring games (five of their seven contests last week were decided by just one run), but they pulled out more than they lost to post a solid 4-3 record. The club began their week with a three-game set at Fort Wayne, and they were able to top the TinCaps 3-2 in a bit of a marathon game on Monday. Cole Bauml scored on a one-out double from Anthony Pereira to tie the game at two in the top of the 9th, and then Bauml homered to lead off the 13th, and Bryan Garcia closed out the win. The TinCaps got revenge on West Michigan and Garcia the next night when they plated two runs in the bottom of the 9th to pull out a 2-1 walkoff win, and they pulled out another late win on Wednesday when they scored the go-ahead run off Fernando Perez in the 8th. Perez was working his fourth inning of relief after starter Kyle Funkhouser (4 2/3IP, 4H, ER, 9K) exhausted his pitch count. The Whitecaps then returned home for a four-game series with the Lake County Captains, but they dropped their third in a row on Thursday by a score of 2-1, spoiling a strong start from Eudis Idrogo (5 2/3IP, 5H, 2ER, 5K). Outfielder Danny Woodrow joined the team as a new leadoff hitter the next day, and the 1-4 hitters combined to go 6-for-14 with four runs scored and four RBIs in a 6-2 win behind a nice spot start from Alfred Gutierrez (4IP, 4H, ER, 4K). Garcia picked up the win on Saturday when Will Savage scored on a walk-off single from Jacob Robson in the 9th, and the offense put up a nice all-around effort to back up a spectacular outing from Austin Sodders (5IP, 3H, 9K) for a 5-2 win on Sunday.

  • The Whitecaps outfielders were terrific at the plate last week. Woodrow went 5-for-10, Bauml was 8-for-27 with a homer and two steals, Cam Gibson went 10-for-30 with five extra-base hits and six runs scored, and Robson went 11-for-30 with his first homer of the season.

  • Reliever Eduardo Jimenez gave up his first run of the year on Friday, but he worked 4 1/3 innings and racked up eight strikeouts, giving him 14 Ks in nine innings. Meanwhile, undrafted free agent Jason Foley pitched two scoreless innings and picked up his first professional save on Sunday.

  • The Whitecaps have scored a league-worst 50 runs on the season, they are hitting .219 as a team, which is the third-lowest average in the Midwest League, they have the fewest doubles (15), the second fewest home runs (7), and their .589 team OPS is 20 points lower than the next closest team.


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