Minor League Notebook: 7/13

It was a rough, rough day for the Tigers minor league clubs. The upper level teams (Erie and Toledo) are on their All Star breaks, meanwhile the other 3 clubs all took losses on Tuesday, none of them putting up a big fight, losing handily to their opponents.

AAA Toledo 49-43, 2nd place in West division
The Mudhens are currently on their All Star break, just like the big league club. The AAA All Star game is tonight, DH Joe Vitiello will represent the Mudhens in Wednesday's game, televised on ESPN2.

AA Erie 47-41, tied 2nd place in Southern division
The Erie Seawolves are also on their All Star break, attempting to re-group after a big slide that dropped them to 3rd place in the Southern division of the Eastern League. They'll also be working on a new game plan, with ace Wilfredo Ledezma getting the call up to aid Detroit's bullpen.

High-A Lakeland 6-14, 6th place in West division
The L-Tigers continue to struggle, as they fell again on Tuesday, losing to Palm Beach 9-4. Corey Hamman didn't impress or disappoint, going 5 inning with 3 earned runs and 2 strikeouts. Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn't keep the team close, as both Jorge Cordova and Mike Howell gave up 3 runs in their appearances, putting the game out of reach. Chris Maples, Victor Mendez and Jody Roughton each had 2 hits for Lakeland in the loss.

It's hard to say whether it's been the loss of Kyle Sleeth, the increase in competition, or simply too much competition, but for whatever reason, the Lakeland Tigers have struggled mightily as of late. Brent Clevlen - who seems to be succumbing to the pressure of being the relied upon hitter in the middle of the lineup, has seen his batting average slip over 60 points in less than a month, while only SS Tony Giarratano seems to be pulling his weight at the plate currently. Who knows where the problem comes from - it certainly is not a comparable situation to West Michigan, as Lakeland has quite a few legitimate prospects. Hopefully, the team will be able to come together and show some progress over the last 6 weeks of the year.

Low-A West Michigan 7-10, 5th place in Eastern division
The Whitecaps suffered a tough loss Tuesday, falling to Fort Wayne 9-2. Brian Rogers struggled on the mound, only making it 3 innings with 4 earned runs. Unfortunately there wasn't much relief, as Daniel Zell came on but gave up another 5 runs in his 2 innings of work. The Whitecaps could only manage 4 hits, and C Danilo Sanchez had the team's only 2 RBI.

Rogers certainly didn't have his best stuff on Tuesday - but many continue to believe that he's pitching over his head and will struggle as he moves up the ladder. It really has nothing to do with Rogers' makeup or repertoire, but rather the commonly-held belief that righties that can't hit 90 on the radar gun will not be able to get big league hitters out - there are exceptions, but for the most part pitchers like Rogers stall out once they reach the challenging levels of the minors - namely AA. Rogers can still be productive, but his outing on Tuesday is much more likely a sign of what we'll see in the future.

SS-A Oneonta 11-13, 2nd place in Stedler division
Despite a recent slide in which Oneonta has lost 3 in a row and 5 of its last 7, they remain in 2nd place in the divison. That wasn't much consolation Tuesday, when they lost to Tri City 6-4. Lavon Lewis took the loss for the O-Tigers, giving up 6 runs in 4 innings. It was Lewis' first decision of the year, despite pitching relatively well (even after the loss, he carries a 3.26 ERA). C Dusty Ryan had 3 hits for Oneonta, and SS Brooks Colvin had a solo Home Run hitting in the leadoff slot for Oneonta.

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