Minor League Notebook: 7/6

On Tuesday, it was a split of the farm clubs, as the upper level clubs got 3 wins, but the 3 A-ball clubs combined to go 0-3 and balance the organization out for the day. Toledo was victorious in both games of its double header, while Erie (much like the big league Tigers) snapped its losing skid with an outstanding start from their ace.

AAA Toledo 47-40, 2nd place in West division
The Mudhens made up for their rainout on Monday with a double header Tuesday. They took both games from Pawtucket, winning the first 8-4 and the second 4-3. Andy Van Hekken got the win in the opener, pitching 5 innings with 4 earned runs. Warren Morris helped out at the plate with a 2-for-4 performance with 3 RBI and 3 runs scored, including a Home Run. Joe Vitiello also had a Home Run and 3 RBI. In the 2nd game, Nate Cornejo got the start (2 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K's), but Rick Kirsten got the win in relief. Vitiello hit a Home Run in the 2nd game as well, while recently added Shortstop Rayner Bautista added 2 RBI.

With Marcus Thames in Detroit, Joe Vitiello is quickly stepping up as the most dangerous hitter on the Toledo roster. Vitiello is 2nd in the International League with a .338 average, he also has 11 Home Runs and 51 RBI. Undoubtedly the team is hurting a bit without the presence of Thames' bat, but the minor league veteran has kept the Mudhens on track, staying within striking distance of the 1st place, as Toledo is currently just 1.5 games behind the 1st place Columbus Clippers.

AA Erie 44-39, 2nd place in Southern division
The Seawolves were in a rough stretch, and just like the Tigers on Tuesday, they were hoping for their ace to step up and win a game for them. Well, Wilfredo Ledezma was on the mound, and he stepped up, getting his 10th win of the year, pitching 8 innings, allowing 3 runs and striking out 9. Also just like the Tigers, the offense stepped up, scoring 10 runs on Binghamton. 1B Juan Tejada had 2 Home Runs in his 3-for-5 day that included 5 RBI. Curtis Granderson also contributed 2 doubles and 2 RBI.

Juan Tejada has received little recognition as a prospect in the Tiger organization - as he was a young First Baseman with little power. But this season he is beginning to shift opinions about his future - especially with the development of his power swing, a necessity for almost any major league First Baseman. Tejada leads the team in RBI (60) and slugging percentage (.505), as well as being 2nd on the team in Home Runs (15). He also shows some patience at the plate, with an OBP of .341. Tejada isn't yet a threat to Carlos Pena, but if Pena continues to be nothing but an inconsistent enigma in the Tiger lineup, Tejada might get a shot to prove his worth sometime next season.

High-A Lakeland 5-9, 3rd place in West division
The L-Tigers continue their slide, losing to Vero Beach again on Tuesday. Mike Howell took the loss, going deep into the game (7 1/3 innings), but allowing 6 runs on 9 hits. The top of order provided plenty of hits, but very little run production came of it - Michael Woods and Tony Giarratano had 3 hits each, and Brent Clevlen made an attempt to break out of his freefall with 2 hits (a single and a double). Lakeland's offense certainly wasn't perfect though, as every member in the lineup struck out at least once.

Michael Woods was turning out to be a wasted draft pick - showing through his play in his first few seasons why he entered the draft a surefire First Round pick but fell to the Tigers in the sandwich round. Woods, essentially the player the Tigers received for losing Juan Gonzalez via free agency, battled knee injuries throughout the beginning of his professional career, and simply couldn't produce to the point of validating a promotion - hence why he has remained in Lakeland for 3 seasons now. But that will probably all change after this year. Woods thusfar is hitting .286, with a slugging percentage over .400. His defense is still shaky and he's not showing quite the same power that was once hoped of him, but any improvement is a good sign for the fallen prospect.

Low-A West Michigan 5-8, 5th place in Eastern division
The Whitecaps lost another close one to Lansing on Tuesday, falling 3-2 again. Jordan Tata started and gave the Whitecaps 6 2/3 innings of solid pitching - allowing 2 runs with 4 strikeouts. Unfortunately, it all went for nothing as Lansing scored a run in the bottom of the 9th to get the victory. 1B Kelly Hunt went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the losing effort.

The offense certainly didn't give the team much support - as Kelly Hunt had 2 hits, which turned out to be the only hits for the team. The other run came off a Kurt Piantek sacrifice fly, scoring Hunt. With Giarratano moving up to Lakeland, and Kody Kirkland, Hunt as emerged as the top offensive player for the Whitecaps, despite receiving little notoriety prior to this season. Only Garth McKinney has more Home Runs on the team (13 to 11), while Hunt has a respectable average (.265), and is far and away the RBI leader (52). What's more concerning is that the top offensive player on the team is a marginal prospect whose odds of making it to the big leagues aren't great.

SS-A Oneonta 9-9, 2nd place in Stedler division
The O-Tigers fell to .500 on Tuesday with a 7-6 loss to Aberdeen. Oneonta used 5 different pitchers, but Dominic Carmosino and Manuel Contreras turned out to give up the go-ahead runs, as they allowed 6 runs (3 apiece) over just 3 recorded outs. 2B Francisco Castro had 2 RBI for Oneonta, an 3B Juan Llamas went 2-for-4 with an RBI.


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