Minor League Notebook: 7/18

The Tigers were big winners on Sunday, taking the season series from the Yankees. Just the same, the Tigers minor league clubs that hold their namesake (the Oneonta Tigers and Lakeland Tigers) both came out victorious. Unfortunately, they were the only 2 that got wins en route a 2-3 day on Sunday.

AAA Toledo 52-44, 2nd place in West division
The Mudhens lost on Sunday, but still sit just a half game out of first place in the West division. Shane Loux pitched well but took the loss as Toledo fell 6-1 to Durham. Loux pitched 6 innings while allowing 3 runs and striking out 3, but the offense just couldn't provide enough support to keep up. Matt Anderson also allowed a pair of runs in relief. Eric Owens went 2-for-4 and drove in the lone Mudhen run.

The Mudhens are now carrying 4 relievers that have at one point pitched for the Tigers (not including Danny Patterson, with the club on a rehab assignment). Anderson, as well as Franklyn German, Steve Colyer and Erik Eckenstahler all have had chances with the Tigers, but none have been able to hang on with the big league club. Of the 4, Colyer remains the one with the best chance of making it to the big leagues and sticking - simply because he's a lefty that can throw in the mid-90's, which is extremely rare. Anderson had been pitching well, but has returned to the Anderson of the spring, simply struggling to get batters out. German has now failed in 3 tries with the Tigers, and he could very well become a pitcher that can simply never adjust to pitching in the big leagues - no matter how talented he is. Eckenstahler seems to have seen his chance come and go, as his 5+ ERA certainly isn't anything to brag about. In any case, if the Tigers look to improve their bullpen over the final 2 weeks for a playoff run, they won't get much help in Toledo.

AA Erie 48-44, 2nd place in Southern division
Erie's struggles continue, as they lost again on Sunday, falling to Akron 7-4. Mark Woodyard got the loss - he only lasted 3 innings, but walked 7 batters over that stretch, and also gave up 3 runs. Chris Mears was even worse in relief, allowing 4 runs in 2 innings. At the plate, Jack Hannahan, Ryan Raburn and Derek Nicholson each went 2-for-4 with an RBI, but it wasn't enough to get the team a win.

The strong rotation Erie supposedly featured is quickly evaporating, as the Seawolves have had to use Woodyard in a starting role. Woodyard's stats have been much better this season as compared to year's past, but he still is nowhere near the level of many of his teammates. Even more, Woodyard is better used simply coming out of the bullpen as opposed to starting, where his lack of a strikeout pitch and his poor control aren't as glaring.

High-A Lakeland 10-15, 5th place in West division
The L-Tigers got a win on Sunday, defeating Sarasota 4-1 behind another strong outing from Corey Hamman. Hamman gave up Sarasota's lone run in his 7 innings of work, before giving way to the bullpen. John Birtwell pitched the 8th, and Mike Kobow earned his 8th save for a scoreless 9th inning. Gilberto Meija went 4-for-5 at the top of the order for Lakeland, including a triple and an RBI. Victor Mendez also had an RBI double for Lakeland.

Corey Hamman isn't what one would call a top prospect. He's a 24-year old pitching in high-A ball, certainly a level at which he should be impressive. However, after making the move from the bullpen to the rotation, Hamman has been very impressive, winning 3 games for the L-Tigers and carrying a 2.10 ERA. However, don't expect great things out of Hamman just yet - besides playing in a league below his age level, he's also walked more batters than he's struck out since moving to the rotation (9 to 8), and has no out-pitch to speak of. Hamman's production for Lakeland has been great, providing solid starts for a team sorely in need of help. But Hamman's best bet for a future job in the majors is as a middle reliever.

Low-A West Michigan 8-14, 6th place in Eastern division
The Whitecaps fell 6-5 on Sunday to Kane County. Brian Rogers started but got a no-decision, giving up 4 runs in 7 1/3 innings of work. He also struck out 5 and walked 3. West Michigan had the lead going into the 9th, but Daniel Zell allowed a pair of runs to give the lead back, and the Whitecaps - after scoring 5 runs in the 8th - couldn't put up any more. 2B Eric Rodland went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and his double play partner, SS Juan Francia, went 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI.

While the Whitecaps lost, it was a good showing from Rodland, who needed a good game after a rough stretch as of late. Entering Sunday's game, Rodland had been 2 for his last 37, including 10 strikeouts - not exactly numbers you expect from a hitter regarded as someone with a good patience at the plate who can make contact and drive the ball into the gaps. Hopefully Sunday's game will get Rodland back on track, as the Whitecaps certainly need his offense - especially his power to the gaps as evidenced by his 19 doubles.

SS-A Oneonta 15-13, 2nd place in Stedler division
Oneonta got a win on Sunday, beating Jamestown 5-3 on Sunday. Recent draftee Andrew Kohn got the start, and although he wasn't able to earn the victory, he still pitched well, going 5 innings with 2 earned runs and 6 strikeouts. Ed Clelland got the win in relief. At the plate, the elder Juan Llamas had a 2-run blast, and Justin Justice went 2-for-4 with a Home Run (his 3rd) and 2 RBI. 2B Francisco Castro also had 3 hits in the leadoff slot for the O-Tigers.

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