Minor League Notebook: 7/29

The Tigers won, and to top it off, they got wins from 4 of their 6 minor league clubs. The Tigers organization also received a pair of excellent starts from a pair of young starters still trying to make a name for themselves in the Tiger farm system. On the other side, the Mudhens weren't able to get a win on Thursday, but still kept a comfortable lead in the West division of the International League.

AAA Toledo 58-49, 1st place in West division
The Mudhens had their 3-game winning streak snapped on Thursday with a 5-2 loss to Buffalo. Shane Loux took the loss, giving up all 5 runs in 6 1/3 innings - he walked 1 and struck out 2. While the offense has typically given lots of support all year long, that wasn't the case Thursday, as they only managed 4 hits, one a solo Home Run by Brandon Harper. Chad Alexander also had an RBI double.

While the Mudhens did lose, they did receive some good news, in that their Center Fielder, Nook Logan, will be returning from the Tigers and be back to starting in Center for Toledo on Friday. Logan isn't considered the best of prospects in the Tiger organization, but he's been a valuable member of the Mudhens, using his speed at the top of the lineup to generate runs time and time again. However, to really show that he has a future with the Tigers, he'll need to demonstrate better patience at the plate because his defense isn't amazing, and he's never going to be a great hitter.

AA Erie 54-47, 2nd place in Southern division
The Seawolves got back on the winning track with a 7-6 victory against Bowie. Kyle Sleeth was Erie's starter, and while he didn't pitch terribly, it certainly wasn't an excellent start. Sleeth gave up 5 runs (4 earned) in 5 innings, walking 2 and striking out 4. Brian Schmack got the win in relief. At the plate, Juan Tejada went 1-for-3 with a 2-run Home Run, while Anderson Hernandez went 3-for-5 with 2 runs scored and an RBI. Scott Tousa also had a pair of hits for the Seawolves.

Sleeth certainly hasn't done as well as hoped since moving up to Double-A. Possibly the bigger concern isn't as much his record or ERA, but rather his K:BB ratio (21 strikeouts to 20 walks so far) and WHIP (1.93). Talk among some members of the front office that if Sleeth had a successful run in Erie, the Tigers might bring him straight up to the big leagues for a few starts in September, assuming the team wasn't in contention. It doesn't appear the team is going to have to worry about being in contention, but as of now, Sleeth definitely hasn't demonstrated that he can handle major league hitters right now. He is still the Tigers top prospect, Tiger fans will probably just have to wait until 2005 to see him with his big league debut.

High-A Lakeland 14-21, 5th place in West division
The L-Tigers got a big win behind a great pitching performance from Jeremy Johnson. Johnson, winning just his 2nd game of the year, pitched 6 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits with 6 strikeouts. Tony Giarratano led the way offensively, going 4-for-5 with a Home Run and 4 RBI. Neil Jenkins and Chris Maples also each had a Home Run for the L-Tiges in their 9-1 victory over St. Lucie.

Jeremy Johnson's continued comeback is certainly taking plenty of time, but that doesn't mean all hope is lost, his start on Thursday the latest evidence of that. He's only won 2 games in his 10 starts, but is still regaining velocity and gaining confidence back on the mound. Johnson, who just turned 22 years old, will spend this season just getting back in the groove of pitching. Next season, when he'll probably return to Lakeland, will be more telling of where he's headed as far as his future is concerned.

Low-A West Michigan 13-19, 5th place in Eastern division
The L-Tigers won big, but the Tigers other full season A club lost big. West Michigan fell 8-1 to Peoria on Thursday. Brian Rogers took the loss, as he struggled, giving up 6 runs in just 4 1/3 innings. The Whitecaps were able to manage 8 hits - a good sign since often times a one-run game can be followed with only a few hits. Kelly Hunt and Danilo Sanchez each went 2-for-4 for the Whitecaps, a good sign for the pair of slumping sluggers.

One player that has received little mention this season is Danilo Sanchez. His average isn't very high (.259), but that's still good enough for 2nd on the team, and he's also displayed occasional power with his .378 slugging percentage, not bad for playing half his games in Fifth Third Ballpark, which is notoriously regarded as a death trap for developing hitters. But what is more notable about Sanchez is his impressive defense and quickness behind the plate, despite his less than stellar speed and larger size. Sanchez isn't a top prospect, but he could definitely develop into one, considering he already has plenty of ability behind the dish.

SS-A Oneonta 19-19, 2nd place in Stedler division
The O-Tigers won in 10 innings, beating Hudson Valley 3-2. Jair Jurrjens made his debut with Oneonta after being promoted from the GCL and didn't disappoint, getting a no decision, but pitching 8 innings, giving up 2 runs (only 1 earned) and striking out 6 batters. Damien Myers pitched 2 shutout innings in relief to get the win. Brent Dlugach went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI in the leadoff hole, while his double play combo mate Francisco Castro scored all 3 of the team's runs.

Coming into the year, the young pitcher receiving the most hype was Jay Sborz, the Tigers 2003 2nd round pick. But now, Jair Jurrjens is quickly making others take notice of him. His excellent outing for Oneonta shows that he wasn't exactly taking advantage of inexperienced players either in the GCL. It's still very early, but he's definitely a pitcher to keep in memory and watch how he develops.

Rookie GCL Tigers 16-16, 2nd place in Northern division
The GCL Tigers also got a win in extra innings, beating the GCL Braves 9-7. Felipe Garcia got the win in relief, but the pitcher that stood out was Randor Bierd, who pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings. Luis Gil had his first Home Run of the year on his way to a 3-for-6 day with 3 RBI. Leonardo Grullon also had 2 RBI for the Tigers.


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