AAA Toledo 34-31, 2nd place in West division
The Mudhens were the lone minor league club to earn a win on Monday, but the win sure was an impressive one. The Mudhens jumped out to an early 8-0 lead, and Norfolk could never catch up, as the Mudhens steamrolled into Second Place in the division, winning 13-6. Andy Van Hekken earned the win, going 6 1/3 innings with 2 earned runs and 6 strikeouts. At the plate, stars were abundant. OF Marcus Thames (who could be seeing a promotion soon) went 3-for-6 with 2 RBI. 1B Andy Barkett had a pair of Home Runs, and in the process drove in 3 runs. C Mike DiFelice, who has played the first two months with little mention, also had a big game, going 3-for-5 with 3 RBI.
This past offseason, Mike DiFelice signed with the Tigers, expecting to split time behind the plate with Brandon Inge. Unfortunately for DiFelice, he was placed in a situation similar to Bill Hasselman a few years back, when Hasselman signed to platoon, but then the Tigers acquired Brad Ausmus, relegating Hasselman to the bench. Well, when the Tigers signed Ivan Rodriguez, and Inge had an excellent Spring, the Tigers had nothing to do with DiFelice. He requested his release, but at the end of camp, it's a rarity for a team to be in need of a backup Catcher. So, DiFelice took the high road, joining the Mudhens, and playing hard for a AAA squad when he really should have a spot in the majors. So far, DiFelice is hitting .306 with 3 HR's and 28 RBI, solid numbers considering he's only had 144 at bats. Don't expect DiFelice to spend all year in Toledo though, if he doesn't get a shot with Detroit, it's almost a guarantee another team will come calling in need of a backstop.
AA Erie 35-25, 1st place in Southern division
Erie, as well as the entire Eastern League, had an off day on Monday. They resume play on Tuesday, when they take on Reading in Erie.
High-A Lakeland 27-35, 5th place in West division
Lakeland lost a tough one after a long weekend layover, falling to St. Lucie 4-3. Jeremy Johnson was the starter, pitching 7 innings and only allowing 2 runs, but the bullpen couldn't hold on to the lead, and Jorge Cordova took the loss for allowing the game-winning run in the 9th. C Mike Rabelo had 3 hits for the L-Tigers in the loss. CF Victor Mendez also had 3 hits, including a solo shot.
Rabelo, who just returned from playing in the Florida State League All Star game, has cooled off after a hot start. But even with his slow down, Rabelo is still hitting .278 for the L-Tigers, nothing to be ashamed of, especially when you have the defensive abilities that Rabelo does. Rabelo doesn't show the promise of a future All Star at the big league level, but has the defense and the bat to potentially become a servicable big leaguer at some point - always a necessary entity, especially at a position where players can break down so easily.
Low-A West Michigan 25-38, 5th place in Eastern division
Like Lakeland, West Michigan lost a close game as well on Monday, falling to Burlington by a score of 5-4. Jordan Tata simply can't catch a break, as he went 7 innings with 5 unearned runs scored on him. Tata has now fallen to 1-9 on the year. OF's Garth McKinney and Luis Sabino provided the run production at the plate, each launching a Home Run.
Jordan Tata has definitely been the least impressive of the 5 Whitecap starters, but he still hasn't received much help from the position players, neither at the plate or in the field. Tata's measurables aren't great, and his vital numbers don't impress many (41 K's: 32 BB's), but his 1-9 record is certainly not telling of how he has pitched thusfar. Like Mike Maroth last season, Tata is better than his record shows.
Have a question on a Tiger prospect or one of the Tigers minor league teams? Send a question to Mark Anderson to have it answered in his next mailbag!