Minor League Notebook: 6/29

Unfortunately, none of the Tigers minor league clubs got the same heroics that the Tigers had on Tuesday with Dmitri Young's game winning Home Run in the 11th. But, that doesn't mean they were without any big performances as their minor league clubs split on the day at 2-2. Highlights include a good outing from a former Tiger, and yet another poor one from one that has been there before and battling to get back.

AAA Toledo 42-37, 2nd place in West division
Toledo took down Rochester 8-6 on Tuesday night, on the legs of a big offensive day from a number of Mudhens. Shane Loux got the start, but struggled again, giving up 5 runs (3 earned) in 2 2/3 innings before being pulled. Steve Colyer, who is trying to straighten out his mechanics and work his way back to the big leagues, got the win for his 2 scoreless innings of relief. At the plate, Andy Barkett, Guillermo Rodriguez and Brant Ust all had Home Runs. Chris Shelton had a pair of hits, and Joe Vitiello had 3 as well.

The Mudhens continue to roll, but one guy who definitely isn't rolling is Shane Loux. After a spectacular start to the year, Loux has fallen on hard times – possibly due to injury troubles that he's trying to pitch through. Loux hasn't won in almost a month (his last win came June 3rd). Since that game, Loux has more earned runs (27), than innings pitched (22.2), and with the exception of one game, has not been able to make it through the sixth inning. Loux's a competitor, but at this point his battling is probably only hurting his chances of getting another shot with the Tigers.

AA Erie 42-34, 2nd place in Southern division
Erie got a win on Tuesday, defeating Harrisburg by a score of 6-4. Matt Roney picked up the win (7-5), going 7 innings with 3 earned runs and 2 strikeouts. At the plate, David Espinosa broke out of his slump with a 4-for-5 day, including his 13th Home Run of the year. Juan Tejada also had a bases-clearing double, and Ryan Raburn had 2 hits to push himself over the Mendoza line for the first time this season.

Espinosa, who had only 3 hits in his last 16 at bats, had a big game for Erie, demonstrating once again his value to the team. Espinosa had been a fixture at the top of the order, but recently he's been hitting more in the 2 and 3 spots, giving him more RBI opportunities, especially because his power swing has finally started to develop, but his run production numbers don't show that (.480 slugging percentage, only 25 RBI for the season). The Tigers Outfield is currently anchored by seasoned veterans – but both Rondell White and Bobby Higginson see their contracts end at the end of the 2005 season, clearing a path for Espinosa as well as teammate Curtis Granderson to get a chance to prove their worth at the big league level, especially if the Tigers don't go after a big name Outfielder over the next 2 offseasons.

High-A Lakeland 2-6, tied 3rd place in West division
Lakeland got a big win on Tuesday night, knocking off the nearby Tampa Yankees by a score of 3-2. Humberto Sanchez, who had an excellent April but a terrible May and June, got the win for the L-Tigers, going 6 innings with 2 earned runs and 7 strikeouts. Mike Kobow pitched the ninth for his 4th save. Victor Mendez, who continues a strong month at the plate, had a Home Run and 2 RBI for Lakeland.

At the end of Tuesday's game, a shocking stat became evident; Scott Moore's batting average was higher than Brent Clevlen's. Had the Tiger brass been told that this would happen back in the Spring, they would have been extactic, as that would have meant a a big push on Moore's part. Unfortunately, Moore's BA is only at .237, and it is a stronger indication of the sudden fall by Clevlen – whose hitless streak has now reached 28 at bats spanning 9 games. Some feel Clevlen, only 20 years old, might have had a bit too much expected of him at such a young age, and that between the increased talent level, the pressure, and the wear and tear of playing every day is taking its toll on him. For the time being, Clevlen will play through it, but an extended rest might help him refocus, and return to his 2002 form.

Low-A West Michigan 3-3, tied 2nd in Eastern division
The Whitecaps lost a tough one on Tuesday, despite an excellent outing from starter Chris Steinborn. Steinborn pitched 7 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits with 2 strikeouts. Unfortunately, the Whitecap offense could only muster 3 hits against South Bend, and fell 2-0.

Steinborn's season has been one of highs and lows. He made the Midwest League All Star team, and carries a sub-4 ERA, but his record sits at 4-8 and his run support hasn't been good. Steinborn has been a workhorse, as he is second on the team in innings pitched at 89. He's also displayed good control, only walking 20 batters over that span. Steinborn may not project to be a stud, but he has certainly pitched better than his record shows.

SS-A Oneonta 5-5, 2nd place in Stedler division
Oneonta was idle on Tuesday, they face Lowell on Wednesday at 9PM.

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