Minor League Notebook: 7/24

If you were a Tiger farm team and only had one 'A', it was a rough day. The 3 A-ball clubs combined to go 0-4 on Saturday. But the Tigers upper level farm teams didn't have the same struggles, both coming up with victories. Another victory for Toledo also means a stronger position in the division standings, as they now are a game and a half ahead of Columbus in the West division.

AAA Toledo 55-47, 1st place in West division
The Mudhens continue to roll, now a game and a half ahead of Columbus in the West division standings. Their latest victory came Saturday, a 3-2 win over Scranton. Shane Loux was the starter, but came out with a no decision and the Mudhens trailing - a solid outing nonetheless, pitching 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 7 hits with 7 strikeouts. Steve Colyer pitched a perfect 8th and earned the win, and Franklyn German got his 22nd save, despite giving up a run in the 9th. At the plate, the team only managed 4 hits, but 3 of those 4 came in the 3-run 9th where the Mudhens tied the score, then took the lead. Joe Vitiello's 2-run double proved to be the game-winning runs.

After a rough stretch in which Shane Loux battled injury (although pitched through it), Loux seems to be regaining his form. His latest outing seems to be the best indication that he's back, only allowing a run in 7 innings of work. His strikeout numbers were also up, and his walks down. Over his last 3 outings, he's carrying a 3.60 ERA, striking out 14 batters in 20 innings of work. Even better, he's been getting better over each outing, allowing less earned runs and getting more strikeouts. Loux still will probably never be a big league starter, but a strong late surge could earn him another shot in the Tiger bullpen in September once the AAA season ends.

AA Erie 51-46, tied 2nd place in Southern division
Erie has fallen out of the division race (now 8 games back), but is starting to show signs of recovering, winning 3 of its last 5, including a 6-4 win over Harrisburg on Saturday. Roberto Novoa got the win in relief, pitching 3 innings of 1-hit, shutout baseball. Mark Woodyard was the starter, going 5 innings with 1 earned run. Ryan Raburn was the big star at the plate, driving in 3 runs (2 off a double, and 1 more on an RBI groundout). Curtis Granderson also scored a pair of runs.

Roberto Novoa has had an excellent 2004, and hopes to be able to continue his success with the big league club in 2005 - definitely a possibility considering the struggles in the Tigers bullpen. Novoa, who was one of the Players to be Named Later in the trade with Pittsburgh for Randall Simon, turns 25 next month, so his time to make an impact in the major leagues is quickly approaching. If he continues to pitch as well as he has, he should have no problem emerging as a setup man for the Tigers in 2005.

High-A Lakeland 12-19, 6th place in West division
The L-Tigers had a doubleheader on Saturday with the Tampa Yankees, and lost in both games. In the first game, they fell 4-2, while the nightcap ended early (5th inning) with a 5-2 loss. Ian Ostlund took the loss in the first game, after relieving Corey Hamman who pitched just 1 inning before a rain delay ended his day. Ostlund gave up 4 runs in 4 innings of work. Gilberto Meija went 1-for-2 with a walk, a double, and an RBI. There were no statistics available from the 2nd game.

Gilberto Meija, the 21-year old switch hitter, has made a big jump in 2004, spending a big part of 2003 with the Rookie GCL Tigers, and also playing some at Oneonta and West Michigan. In any case, Meija has made a big jump, going all the way to high-A, but has met the challenge head on. Meija currently is hitting .269/.338/.384 - not great by any means, but respectable numbers for an Infielder without a lot of power. Meija isn't considered a big prospect, but a future as a utility Infielder could definitely be in line for Meija.

Low-A West Michigan 11-17, 5th place in Eastern division
The Whitecaps suffered a tough loss on Saturday, falling to Quad Cities 3-2. Jordan Tata got the loss despite pitching a complete game, giving up 3 runs, walking 1 and striking out 8. Juan Francia had 2 hits for the Whitecaps in the loss, and Eric Rodland was responsible for driving in the team's 2 runs - on a 2-run shot in the 1st inning.

With the loss, Jordan Tata's record has now fallen to an incredible 2-11, despite the fact that he carries a 4.26 ERA. He has had very few bad outings, but rather has received minimal run support all year long, and just seems to always be giving up a run too many. Tata has struggled a bit with his control, walking 55 batters and throwing 12 wild pitches in 114 innings of work. Tata doesn't show as a big prospect, but he's certainly better than his record indicates.

SS-A Oneonta 17-16, 2nd place in Stedler division
Oneonta suffered a tough loss on Saturday, falling by a score of 10-2 to Tri-City. Andrew Kown got his first professional loss, giving up 5 runs in 3 innings before exiting. At the plate, Juan Llamas had a solo Home Run, as did Dusty Ryan on his way to a 3-for-4 day. Brent Dlugach and Justin Justice also each had 2 hits.

Rookie GCL Tigers 13-14, 2nd place in Northern division
While Lakeland battled rain, the GCL Tigers got rained out on Saturday in their game with the GCL Yankees.

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