Minor Leauge Notebook: 8/17

The Tigers got a win, but the rest of the organization didn't do quite as well, as there wasn't a win to be found among all of the minor league clubs. The bright spots were few and far between; a couple notables brought their games to the plate (especially for West Michigan), and a top prospect has made his return from injury.

AAA Toledo 61-63, 2nd place in West division
The Mudhens lost their 3rd straight as their tumble continues, this time it was a 7-2 loss to Durham. Pat Ahearne was responsible for the loss this time around, giving up 7 runs (although just 4 were earned) on 12 hits in 6 innings. He also walked 1 and struck out 4. Andy Barkett returned to the lineup and did well, going 2-for-4 with an RBI, but it wasn't nearly enough to get the Mudhens back into the win column. Eric Owens also had a big game, going 4-for-4 with a run scored.

The Mudhens have been losing players left and right, and it has now been confirmed that Shane Loux will be out the rest of the season, just the latest in a string of bad breaks for the Tigers' AAA affiliate. Loux finishes the season with an unimpressive stat line; 7-11, 5.29 ERA in 132 2/3 innings. Loux did strike out 86 and walk just 34, so all is not lost. But this former prospect has now struggled even in the minors (although many suspect his injury occurred much earlier in the season, and Loux tried to pitch through it) and could very well be looking for another organization to make a run with in the near future, as he doesn't appear to have much hope in the Detroit organization.

AA Erie 66-54, 2nd place in Southern division
The Seawolves suffered a tough loss, falling to Akron 7-5 on Tuesday. Kenny Baugh only pitched 2 innings before leaving the game after having given up 2 runs on 4 hits. Rick Palma ended up taking the loss (his 9th on the season), allowing 2 runs on 4 hits in his lone inning of work. Kurt Airoso went 2-for-4 with a 2-run Home Run, while Juan Tejada also went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Ryan Raburn and Curtis Granderson also chipped in 2 hits apiece.

Rick Palma has held on as Erie's closer throughout the season, but never seems to buckle down when the game is on the line. Palma has 9 losses, and just 10 saves pitching out of the bullpen for the Seawolves. And while this indicates he may not be in line for a closer position down the road, he definitely could make an impact as a reliever for the big league club. Palma has a K:BB ratio of nearly 4:1, with 47 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings of work. Palma may not have the mentality to shut down teams at the end, but he could fill in as a middle reliever in the future.

High-A Lakeland 16-32, 6th place in West division
Lakeland was supposed to get a doubleheader, but that didn't happen. They were able to get one full game in though, losing to Fort Myers 8-7. Matt Parris started and also got a no decision, giving up 3 runs in 4 innings. Felipe Garcia took the loss, allowing 3 runs in 2 innings. At the plate, Victor Mendez went 3-for-5 with 2 runs in the leadoff slot, while Neil Jenkins went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI, and Scott Moore had a solo Home Run.

Lakeland just can't seem to catch a break, coming up short even when they put up runs. Possibly the biggest issue now is who is going to pitch, after losing four of their five starters from the opener (Kyle Sleeth, Joel Zumaya and Humberto Sanchez to Erie, Jon Connolly in a trade to the Chicago Cubs). Jeremy Johnson remains as the lone legitimate starter on the roster, with players like Corey Hamman and Mike Powell starting despite the fact they are better fits in the bullpen. Luckily for Lakeland, there is just a couple weeks left of the season, and then they can look forward to being replenished from the lower clubs for 2005.

Low-A West Michigan 27-24, 2nd place in Eastern division
The Whitecaps lost a shootout in extra innings, falling Beloit 13-10 in 10 innings. Eulogio Delacruz gave up 3 runs in the 10th for the loss, his 4th of the season. Chris Steinborn was the starter but wasn't too impressive, giving up 6 runs (5 earned) in 3 2/3 innings. He also walked 2 and struck out 4. The Whitecaps got lots of offense, but it wasn't enough for a win. Garth McKinney had a 2-run Home Run, while Kody Kirkland had another big game, going 4-for-5 (falling a Home Run short of the cycle) with an RBI. Vincent Blue also went 2-for-4 with 3 runs driven in.

It appears teams are beginning to figure out that Delacruz simply doesn't throw anything offspeed, something he'll need to adjust to sooner rather than later if he hopes to continue to be successful. His mid-90's heat is an excellent start for a future reliever, but without a solid 2nd pitch, Delacruz will begin to see the Matt Anderson syndrome, where hitters will be able to catch up to the fastball, no matter how fast. It's imperative for Delacruz to find a pitch that will work for him to keep hitters off balance.

SS-A Oneonta 28-27, 2nd place in Stedler division
Oneonta was off on Tuesday, but resumes play at Lowell on Wednesday evening.

Rookie GCL Tigers 22-26, 3rd place in Northern division
The GCL Tigers completed the sweep for the organization, falling to the GCL Phillies 7-1. Jesse Caraballo took the loss, going to 0-3 on the year, for his efforts, giving up 5 runs in 4 innings. He also walked 5 batters, and obviously struggled with his control. No one did much of note at the plate, only 6 hits, no one had more than one. A small piece of good news though; Cody Collet returned to the lineup after going out earlier in the summer with a leg injury.

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