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June 12 - June 18 Detroit Tigers Minor League Recap: Flying Grayson Greiner

The MLB draft concluded last week, draft picks have begun signing, and the New York-Penn League is preparing to kick off its season, but for now there are still just five affiliates in action. Last week in the minors we saw strong play at the hot corner in Toledo, an All-Star Game in Lakeland, a record-setting shootout in West Michigan, the end of a brutal losing streak in the DSL, and a catcher catching fire in Erie.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 6/12 - 6/18

Toledo Mud Hens
30-37, 3nd in the West Division

The Mud Hens had a subpar 2-4 showing at home, losing their first four contests before bouncing back to take the final two tilts of the week. The Gwinnett Braves came to town for three games, blitzing Matt Crouse (4IP, 9H, 7ER, 2K) in a a 7-1 thumping on Tuesday, and then breaking the Hens’ hearts with a late comeback on Wednesday. Toledo had taken a 4-1 lead behind a big game from third baseman Michael Almanzar (2-for-4, 2HR) and Anibal Sanchez’s best start as a Mud Hen (5IP, 4H, ER, BB, 7K), but the Braves scored four runs in the 9th off Arcenio Leon and Edward Mujica to shock the Hens 5-4. Gwinnett completed the sweep on Thursday, bashing out 13 hits in an 8-3 win. Durham came to town and didn’t make things any easy on Toledo, scoring two runs late to spoil Drew VerHagen’s strong start (7IP, 7H, 3ER, 6K) and win 5-3. The Hens finally got back to winning on Saturday, using a four-run 6th and a solid outing from Matt Boyd (6 2/3IP, 5H, 2ER, 8K) to win 5-2, and on Sunday they authored a late comeback to win the series. The Mud Hens were up 4-3 heading into the 8th, but the Bulls plated two runs off Joe Jimenez on three hits and a walk. Undeterred, Toledo retook the lead in the bottom of the inning on a two-run single from Efren Navarro, and Mujica closed it out for a 6-5 win.

  • Almanzar had a terrific week at the plate, going 9-for-23 with five runs scored, four home runs, and five RBIs. The 26-year-old third baseman has been a solid contributor all year, particularly against left-handed pitching, and if the Tigers suffer an injury on the infield he may be an option.

  • Sanchez was recalled by the Tigers over the weekend, so his time with the Mud Hens appears to be done. He finishes with an 0-2 record and a 4.60 ERA, with 17 hits allowed, three home runs, five walks, and 20 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. Boyd, meanwhile, has pitched 19 innings for Toledo and posted a 2-0, 3.32 line, with 15 hits allowed, three homers, six walks, and 19 Ks.

  • JaCoby Jones had a few disappointing stints in the Majors this year, but he’s been very solid for the Mud Hens. He went 8-for-25 last week with a double, a triple, and a stolen base, and for the season he’s hitting .270 with 13 extra-base hits and five steals in 36 games.

Erie SeaWolves
33-35, 3rd in the Western Division

Erie had Monday off, but then played eight games over the next six days, splitting the contests 4-4 to remain in 3rd place. Things got off to a great start, with the SeaWolves sweeping a three-game series at home against Binghamton. Beau Burrows got the start and the win on Monday, scattering nine hits over five innings but giving up just one run, and Grayson Greiner, Gabriel Quintana, and Dominic Ficociello each knocked in a run in the 3-1 victory. Artie Lewicki (5 2/3IP, 6H, 2ER, 5K) earned a 7-2 win on Wednesday thanks to a spectacular, two-homer, 6-RBI performance from Greiner, and on Thursday it was former Tennessee teammates Christin Stewart and A.J. Simcox knocking in a run apiece in support of a terrific effort from A.J. Ladwig (6 2/3, 4H, ER, 7K). The Wolves then trekked to Trenton for five games in three days, and the results weren’t quite as positive. Erie scored a run off a rusty, rehabbing Aroldis Chapman in the first inning on Friday, but they could score only once more in the game, and the Thunder managed to plate four runs on just five hits to earn the victory. Saturday’s doubleheader began with Ficociello hitting his second homer of the year and Tyler Alexander (4IP, 5H, 2ER, 2BB, 2K) taking a tough-luck loss in game one, but in the nightcap Mike Gerber hit a huge, game-tying two-run blast in the top of the 7th inning, Quintana doubled home Simcox in the 8th, and Jairo Labourt pitched two scoreless innings to pick up the 3-2 win. The series ended on Sunday with another doubleheader, but the SeaWolves bats were mostly shut down, and Beau Burrows (3 2/3IP, 4H, 5ER, 3BB, 4K) and Waldis Joaquin (2IP, 6H, 4ER) couldn’t keep the Trenton offense at bay.

  • Greiner had a hugely productive week, going 5-for-16 with three home runs, a double, and seven RBIs. After struggling to a .198/.286/.267 line in the first two months of the year, the hulking catcher is hitting .275/.341./.725 in June.

  • Reliever Bryan Garcia’s transition from Lakeland to Erie has been painless thus far. He picked up his first AA save on Thursday, and in three outings covering 3 2/3IP last week he gave up just two hits while striking out four. The 22-year-old hasn’t given up a run in 17 consecutive outings, and he as 35 strikeouts against just two walks in those 19 2/3 innings.

  • Simcox had one of his best weeks of the season, going 9-for-21 with three doubles, a triple, and two stolen bases. Like Greiner, he is having a solid June (.279/.313/.512) after struggling through April and May.

Lakeland Flying Tigers
28-35, 5th in the North Division

The Flying Tigers went 2-2 in a week shortened by rain and the Florida State League All-Star Game. The club fell 1-0 in a rain-soaked 5-inning affair against Clearwater on Monday, but they came back strong with two terrific pitching performances against the Threshers in Wednesday’s doubleheader. Sandy Baez (6IP, 3H, ER, 4BB, 9K) set a career high in strikeouts and the Flying Tigers took advantage of four Clearwater errors in a 5-1 win in game one, while Kyle Funkhouser (7IP, 4H, BB, 3K) picked up his first professional shutout in the second game, and David Gonzalez scored on a throwing error to give Lakeland a 1-0 victory. The Threshers came back to even the series on Thursday, even though Joe Jimenez (IP, H, K) made a solid return to game action and Matt Hall (4IP, 5H, 2BB, 8K) pitched very well. Anthony Gose (1/3IP, 2H, 2BB, 4ER) had his worst outing as a pro pitcher and the Flygers offense managed just five hits in a 5-2 loss.

  • Infielders Joey Pankake and Zac Shepherd were the best offensive performers of the shortened week. Pankake went 3-for-10 with a HR, and Shepherd was 3-for-10 with a double and a homer.

  • Funkhouser’s win on Wednesday was his first at the high-A level, and his fifth of the season. He has now thrown 31 1/3 innings at both West Michigan and Lakeland, and with a 2.44 ERA between the two levels, he may be headed to Erie soon.

  • Beau Burrows and Ross Kivett were chosen for the FSL All-Star team, but both have since been promoted to AA, so the Flying Tigers instead sent catcher Arvicent Perez, and pitchers Kyle Dowdy and Gerson Moreno. They didn’t have to go far, as the game was in Lakeland, and their FSL North squad won 5-2, with Perez going 0-for-1, Dowdy walking two and recording two strikeouts in 2/3 of an inning, and Moreno striking out one in his 2/3 of an inning.

West Michigan Whitecaps
45-22, 1st in the Eastern Division

It was a week to remember for the Whitecaps, as they went 4-1, clinched a playoff berth and a division title, and broke a Midwest League record. The week started on a sour note, with the Caps falling 8-2 to the Dayton Dragons on Monday, and rain washing out Tuesday’s contest at Bowling Green. But West Michigan turned things around against the Hot Rods on Wednesday, getting the first complete game shutout (7IP, 5H, BB, 5K) of Anthony Castro’s career in game one’s 6-0 victory, and another stellar performance from Austin Sodders (6IP, 4H, ER, 6K) in a 6-1 game two win. Rain took the final game of the series, but then the Caps traveled to Lansing and took part in an historic offensive explosion. West Michigan jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the 2nd inning, but the Lugnuts fought back and nearly took the lead in the 4th inning when a potential grand slam was grabbed at the wall by Whitecaps outfielder Cole Bauml. The two teams kept knocking the ball all over the park, but in the end it was West Michigan coming up triumphant in a 15-8 barnburner. Practically every batter had a good game, but Danny Woodrow (5-for-5, 2BB, 4R, 2 2B, 2 RBIs), Josh Lester (3-for-6, 3 2B, 6 RBIs), and Blaise Salter (4-for-7, 2 2B) stood out the most. Rain spoiled Saturday’s game, but the Caps broke out the sticks again on Sunday, winning 10-1 and getting big games from Cam Gibson (2-for-4, 2B, HR, 4 RBIs) and Anthony Pereira (1-for-4, BB, HR, 3 RBIs).

  • Woodrow was one of the hottest hitters on the planet last week. He went 11-for-20 with five doubles, five walks, seven RBIs, and a stolen base. Gibson (10-for-23, 3 2B, HR, 6 RBIs) and Lester (6-for-20, 3 2B, HR, 9 RBIs) also had monster weeks.

  • The first half of the season ended on Sunday, and seven different Whitecaps players are slated to head to Midland for Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Outfielders Woodrow (.303/.355/.367, 13 SB) and Jacob Robson (.329/.408/.395) join infielders Lester (.275/.310/.458, 8HR) and Salter (.330/.377/.510, 29 2B, 53 RBIs), while closer Jason Foley (3-1, 1.55 ERA, 5 SV) will be accompanied by starters Sodders (7-0, 1.40) and Gregory Soto (5-1, 2.68).

  • Friday’s shootout with Lansing saw the teams combine for 41 hits, 19 extra-base hits, 11 walks, and 28 men left on base. The Whitecaps broke a 17-year-old Midwest League record with 11 doubles, though manager Mike Rabelo was ejected for arguing that one of them should have been a homer.

DSL Tigers
4-9, 7th in the San Pedro Division

It was an ugly week for the DSL Tigers as they went just 1-5 and saw their losing streak stretch to nine games. Things got off on the wrong foot in a 10-4 loss to the Mets on Monday, with the club committing nine errors and starter Keider Montero lasting just six batters. On Tuesday the Tigers managed to tie the game at one in the top of 9th inning when Wenceel Perez scored on an Ernesto Adames triple, but then lost to the Phillies White squad in the 10th inning on a walk-off wild pitch. On Wednesday the Phillies put up 19 hits and clobbered the Tigers 11-2, and then the Cubs2 team took two in a row, winning 9-8 on Thursday, and holding the Tigers to one hit in Friday’s 3-0 defeat. The club finally snapped their losing streak on Saturday with a 7-3 win over the Brewers, thanks to a strong outing from Montero (4IP, H, 2BB, 4K) and a big day at the plate from Luis Laurencio (2-for-3, 2BB, HR, 3RBI).

  • Infielder Yerjeni Perez was on base all week, going 4-for-10 at the plate and walking six times in five games, including a four-walk game in Saturday’s win. The 17-year-old is now hitting .391/.548/.435 on the young season.

  • The Tigers most statistically impressive pitcher so far this season has been Ronald Burgos. The tall 17-year-old has an unimpressive 4.15 ERA, but in 8 2/3 innings he has given up just four hits and six walks while striking out 15.

  • So far the Tigers offense is being led by DSL veterans Gustavo Figueroa and Luis Laurencio. Figueroa went 6-for-16 last week with a double and four RBIs, while Laurencio went 6-for-18 with five walks, a homer, and five RBIs, to give him a league leading 15 runs batted in.

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