AAA Toledo 43-38, 2nd place in West division
Toledo was triumphant on Thursday, beating Rochester 6-5. Pat Ahearne almost made it the distance, going 8 2/3 innings. He did allow 5 runs, but got the win nonetheless. John Ennis came on for the final out to record his 5th save. The Mudhens meanwhile put up all their offense early, scoring 6 runs off former Mudhen (and Tiger) Seth Griesinger. Guillermo Rodriguez had his 5th Home Run of the year, and Nook Logan had 2 hits and an RBI for Toledo.
Nate Cornejo made his first rehab appearance on Wednesday, pitching 1 inning in relief for the Mudhens. Nate didn't allow a hit or a walk and struck out 2. Cornejo is expected to pitch another 2 innings on Friday, and then the Tigers will make an evaluation to see where he stands. The bigger issue of course is, where will he pitch when he returns to the team. Gary Knotts has pitched very well after taking Cornejo's place in the rotation, probably too well to take him out. Cornejo will make at least one start before returning to Detroit, but whenever that happens, he very well might be used as a middle reliever, where he wouldn't tire as easily, and where the Tigers are in desperate need of help.
AA Erie 43-35, 2nd place in Southern division
The Seawolves fell on Thursday to Bowie, 5-1. The offense just couldn't generate much at the plate, and Wilfredo Ledezma didn't have his best stuff, giving up 5 runs in 5 innings of work. OF Neil Jenkins drove in the lone Erie run, on an infield single in the 9th after the game was practically decided.
Ledezma, despite not being an official "prospect" due to spending 2003 on the Tiger roster as a Rule V selection, has emerged as one of the Tigers top pitching prospects, dominating the AA Eastern League. Unfortunately, his streak didn't continue Thursday, when he got just his 3rd loss of the season. Despite the rough outing, his ERA is just 2.07 over his last 4 starts (and 2.34 for the season). Ledezma also has struck out 4 batters for each one he has walked over his last 4 starts, which is just slightly better than his season average of 3.71 strikeouts per walk. The Tigers appear reluctant to break up the Seawolves as they battle for a playoff spot, but Ledezma has certainly earned a promotion based on his performance.
High-A Lakeland 4-6, 3rd place in West division
The L-Tigers didn't have their ace on the mound, but were victorious nonetheless, behind a solid pitching performance from Corey Hamman. Hamman went 5 innings without allowing a run to go to 3-0 on the year. At the plate, 1B Jody Roughton had a grand slam for Lakeland, while Mike Rabelo also drove in a pair of runs. Tony Giarratano had 3 hits as well.
The 24-year old Hamman has stepped up big over the past couple weeks. With the promotion of Kyle Sleeth, the L-Tigers were short one starter. They have used different relievers as a starter, but Hamman has easily had the most success. Hamman's continued success is very important, as currently Lakeland's top 3 starters have a combined ERA of 5.56 - certainly not a good average, and certainly a reason why the L-Tigers haven't won as many games as the organization would have hoped. Hamman isn't a high level prospect, but his starts should help the team win a few more games and stay competitive over the final 2 months of the season.
Low-A West Michigan 4-4, tied 2nd in Eastern division
The Whitecaps lost a tough one in extra innings on Thursday, falling to South Bend by a score of 7-5 in extra innings. Jordan Tata got the start and pitched well, going 6 2/3 innings with 3 earned runs and 4 strikeouts. But the bullpen couldn't hold on at the end, and eventually Brian Santo allowed the winning runs to score. OF Garth McKinney went 2-for-4 with a Home Run, and Luis Sabino also had a Home Run.
Despite being older for the low-A league, Garth McKinney, Eric Rodland and Kelly Hunt are leading the offensive charge for the Whitecaps. McKinney doesn't have a good average (.231), but he does lead the team in Home Runs with 11. Rodland has been an all around good hitter for West Michigan (currently sporting a .285 average), while Hunt has been the big bat in the middle of the lineup with 49 RBI. The fact that none of the three are considered true prospects is just another example of how the talent level at West Michigan is down this year, but they still get the Whitecaps wins, and are a big part of the reason they have started the 2nd half of the season off with a .500 record.
SS-A Oneonta 7-6, 2nd place in Stedler division
Oneonta won big on Thursday, downing Lowell by a score of 8-1. Dominic Carmosino, who was being used in relief, started and pitched 3 innings before giving way to Damien Myers, who got the win to go to 2-1 for his 4 innings of relief. Everyone was having big days at the plate, especially 1B Rafael Mendez, who went 4-for-4 with 3 RBI out of the 9 hole. 3rd round draft pick Jeff Frazier hit his first Home Run as a professional, and 2B Francisco Castro had 2 hits and 2 steals at the top of the order.