Minor League Notebook: 6/16

The big league club didn't even play, but that might have been a good thing, considering the trend as you went up the levels and their performance on Wednesday. The minor league clubs split, going 2 and 2 on the day, with the 2 A-ball clubs coming out with victories, while the higher level teams ended up on the short end. Plus, an expected promotion has finally come (FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT).

AAA Toledo 34-32, 2nd place in West division
The Mudhens definitely didn't enjoy their game, which finished Wednesday after the game started out on Tuesday but was stopped due to rain. Pat Ahearne got the loss, but only pitched 2 innings (the 2 on Tuesday). The Mudhens put 4 pitchers out on the mound Wednesday, and only Jason Karnuth had success. Adrian Burnside, Eric Eckenstahler, and Matt Anderson all gave up at least 2 runs in the game. Joe Vitiello was the only one that did anything at the plate, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Matt Anderson has been doing well down with AAA, up until the game on Wednesday. In 2/3 of an inning, Anderson gave up 2 runs on 2 hits. Even worse, he struggled with his control, giving up 3 walks. Anderson will still probably get a chance again with the Tigers in September, and hopefully this was just a one time outing, but I think it has come time to accept the fact that Anderson is no longer the pitcher he once was, nor will he ever be again.

AA Erie 36-26, 2nd place in Southern division
The Erie Seawolves fell to Reading 3-2 on Wednesday, which also dropped them from first place in the division. Preston Larrison got a no decision for another excellent start, going 7 innings with only 1 run allowed on 3 hits. He also struck out 4. Unfortunately the bullpen couldn't hold the lead, and Brian Schmack too the loss for allowing a run in the 10th. At the plate leadoff man David Espinosa, who has been struggling as of late, had a Home Run and 2 RBI.

The Seawolves lost the game, but it wasn't all bad news for the Seawolves. The Tigers made the long-expected move, promoting righty Kyle Sleeth from Lakeleand to AA Erie. Sleeth will move into the rotation spot that has been shared by Rick Kirsten and Mark Woodyard. The move keeps Sleeth right on track to potentially challenge for a rotation spot in Detroit next Spring, after finishing up the year in AA and a probable appearance in the Arizona Fall League.

High-A Lakeland 28-36, 5th place in West division
Joel Zumaya, who will now probably be considered the L-Tigers ace with the promotion of Sleeth, gave the team another quality start, going 6 innings and allowing 3 runs while striking out 8. Corey Hamman pitched the final 2 innings without allowing a baserunner to earn his first save of the season. Offensively, Brent Clevlen and Mike Rabelo provided the run production, with Clevlen having 2 RBI and Rabelo 3.

With Sleeth now out of the picture, Zumaya, as well as Humberto Sanchez, become the celebrated prospects with the L-Tigers. Zumaya, whose ERA now sits at an even 4.00, has been very impressive as of late, and while he won't be getting a promotion like Sleeth did (partly because the Tigers want to bring him along slowly and partly because there is just no room in the Erie rotation right now). Zumaya had some injury issues last year, but he has been healthy all year and just now needs to show he can improve the accuracy with his mid-90's fastball.

Low-A West Michigan 27-38, 5th place in East division
The Whitecaps won on Wednesday, beating Burlington by a score of 7-5. The win also had a secondary effect; moving the Whitecaps out of the cellar. Chris Steinborn was a little shaky on the mound, going 5 innings while giving up 4 runs, but the offense was clicking and he earned the win nonetheless. Flamethrower Eulogio Delacruz pitched a scoreless 9th for his 4th save. C Alex Trezza was the star at the plate, going 2-for-4 with 5 RBI and a Home Run (his 2nd).

Delacruz is a huge project in the system, but he has the potential to become a legitimate big league reliever down the road. Right now, Delacruz has only one pitch that he uses, a fastball that sits in the mid 90's. The Tigers will be patient with him because of that arm, but he'll have trouble getting out of A-ball if he doesn't learn to throw a second pitch soon. A mid-90's fastball is good, but it certainly isn't at the level that Matt Anderson's 102-mph fastball was at, where he could work his way through the minors simply because few hitters could catch up to it. Delacruz is a hard thrower, so expect him to work on a slider or change-up, something that will give him an out-pitch, as well as a pitch to keep hitters off balance.

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!

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