Minor League Notebook: 8/18

The Tigers had a rough go of it, but their farm teams certainly had a better day. Toledo was the only team that didn't get a win, while Lakeland got the other loss in their doubleheader en route to a 5-2 day. The Whitecaps continue to inch closer to a possible playoff run, while the Tigers might now have one of the hottest players in all of minor league baseball. (FREE PREMIUM CONTENT PREVIEW).

AAA Toledo 61-64, 2nd place in West division
Andy Van Hekken was Toledo's Prospect of the Month in July, but not even he could stop the Mudhens losing streak. Van Hekken allowed 4 runs in 3 1/3 innings, before giving way to the bullpen. John Ennis wasn't effective either, allowing another 3 runs in their 9-3 loss to Durham. A little bit of good news though; Lino Urdaneta pitched 2 scoreless innings for Toledo, as he has done well for the Mudhens. 1B Andy Barkett blasted a solo Home Run for Toledo, and Warren Morris went 2-for-4 with an RBI, but it wasn't nearly enough to end the skid.

Well, after shaky performances in the lower minors, Urdaneta is looking much more impressive at the higher levels. Urdaneta has now made 4 appearances for the Mudhens, and the early results are promising. Urdaneta has struck out 3 and walked 1 over 6 2/3 innings, with the lone run coming off a solo Home Run. Urdaneta still has a long way to go, but expect him to see some time with the big league club when the rosters expand September 1st, so the Tigers get an extended look at him before deciding whether or not to keep him next Spring.

AA Erie 67-54, 2nd place in Southern division
The Seawolves were victorious on Wednesday, downing Akron 10-5 as Joel Zumaya improved to 2-0 as a Seawolf. Zumaya did allow 5 runs, but only 2 were earned, as he struck 7 and walked 3 in 6 innings of work. Typically, 5 runs is a lot, but the Erie offense capitalized with 10 runs in the first 3 innings and never looked back. Curtis Granderson had another big game, going 2-for-5 with 3 runs, a Home Run (his 20th) and an RBI. Juan Tejada went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI, while David Espinosa also had a 2-run double for Erie.

Many assumed Granderson was just hot for a few days and would come back to Earth, but he has shown no signs of doing so yet. Over his last 8 games, Granderson is hitting .418 with 13 runs scored, 5 Home Runs and 15 RBI. The Tigers will be sending Granderson to the Arizona Fall League at the end of the season, and don't currently have room on the 40 man roster, so it's hard to see him getting a promotion to Detroit. But the way he's been hitting, it's hard to claim he doesn't deserve it.

High-A Lakeland 17-33, 2nd place in West division
The L-Tigers split a doubleheader on Wednesday, beating Fort Myers in the first game, but falling in the second. In the first, Corey Hamman pitched a complete game shutout in Lakeland's 2-0 win, allowing just 3 hits while striking out 3. Victor Mendez had a 2-run Home Run that provided all the scoring for Lakeland. In the 2nd game, the team didn't get the same pitching, and lost 6-4. Jeremy Johnson had a decent start, allowing 1 run on 4 hits in 5 innings - he did walk 5 though. Landon Harper would take the loss, giving up 5 runs (all earned) in an inning of work. Brent Clevlen again showed signs that he's coming back to life, going 2-for-4 with a double. Scott Moore also had a 2-run single for Lakeland.

Good news for Brent Clevlen, who finally appears to be pulling himself out of the slump that plagued him for most of the summer. Nevertheless, it's been a disappointing season for both Clevlen and Moore - neither taking the next step that the organization was hopeful that they would. .643 and .686. That is Clevlen's and Moore's respective OPS ratings - nowhere near where top prospects are expected to be. But it's not time to give up on them yet, they were young kids who had a lot expected of them at a young age in a league with good competition.

Low-A West Michigan 28-24, 2nd place in Eastern division
Another day, and another Whitecap win as West Michigan continues to play well. Christhian Martinez led the way for West Michigan, giving the team 7 strong innings, with just 1 earned run off 3 hits. Brian Santo pitched the final 2 innings for his first save. Juan Francia and Eric Rodland led the way at the plate, each with 2 hits, while Rodland drove in 2 runs, and Francia drove in 1 and scored 1 himself. Vincent Blue also added a 2-run double in the game.

Don't look now, but the Whitecaps are again a game out of first place in the Eastern division. This team, "without much talent" (and yes, yours truly is eating some crow here) has come together to put together an excellent second half to their season. Kody Kirkland has turned it up in August, and Vincent Blue, Eric Rodland, Kelly Hunt and Garth McKinney have all come together to produce at the plate when the team needed it. Most notably is that the team has avoided the dreaded games where no one steps up and an excellent pitching performance is wasted. You never know if the Whitecaps can make it all the way to the top, but it sure will be fun to watch and find out.

SS-A Oneonta 29-27, 2nd place in Stedler division
The O-Tigers got an extra innings win on Wednesday, beating Lowell 5-4 in 11 innings. Andrew Kohn had a solid performance before leaving after 4 innings, allowing no runs, just 2 hits, and striking out 7. Tony Peralta pitched the final 2 1/3 innings to get the win in relief. Bo Flowers had a big game, going 2-for-5 with a run and 2 RBI. Francisco Castro scored the winning run on a passed ball in the top of the 11th to win it for Oneonta.

Rookie GCL Tigers 23-26, 3rd place in Northern division
The GCL Tigers were victorious as well on Wednesday, topping the GCL Braves 5-1. Adriano Santos got the win, going 6 innings with an unearned run, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. Leonardo Grullon went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI, and Jordan Foster went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win in the Gulf Coast League.

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