Minor League Notebook: 8/29

It was a mediocre day for the Tiger organization, as the farm teams combined to go 2-2 on the day, with Lakeland off and the Gulf Coast League season ending on Saturday. The average record however doesn't reflect a pair of excellent pitching performances from two of the organization's top pitching prospects, as well as a team suddenly running away with their division crown.

AAA Toledo 64-72, 2nd place in West division
The Mudhens got a 3-1 victory Sunday afternoon against Indianapolis, being led by starter Matt Roney. Roney pitched 7 solid innings, giving up 1 run on 4 hits with a walk and a strikeout. Roney got the win - his first as a Mudhen. Franklyn German had a little bit of trouble, giving up a pair of hits in the 9th, but escaped any damage and got his 26th save. At the plate, Warren Morris led the way, going 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. The game also marked the return of Danny Klassen from the Olympics, as he went 1-for-4 with a run scored.

After a rough start, Matt Roney finally turned in a solid outing at the AAA level. Roney didn't have great peripheral numbers with just 1 walk and 1 strikeout, but more importantly, he allowed just 4 hits and 1 run. It's a good sign for Roney, who needed a good performance after struggling much of the 2nd half of the season. No word yet on whether or not Roney will see a promotion to Detroit come Wednesday (or possibly at the end of Toledo's season), but the Tigers have said they don't plan on calling up a lot of players, and with just an average 2004 from Roney, the Tigers might elect to call it a season for him, trying to provide motivation for the youngster who is trying to make it back to Detroit.

AA Erie 75-58, 2nd place in Southern division
The Seawolves lost their 2nd in a row on Sunday, dropping their game to New Hampshire 5-3. A day after almost being no-hit, Erie lost it in relief on Sunday, as Lee Rodney couldn't hold the lead that Kyle Sleeth handed over to him. Sleeth pitched well, going 7 innings with 2 runs on 4 hits (and best of all, didn't allow a Home Run). He also walked 3 and struck out 3. At the plate, Scott Tousa had a good game, subbing in for Ryan Raburn who had the day off, going 2-for-4 with 2 runs scored. Juan Tejada, Kurt Airoso, and Jack Hannahan each drove in a run in the losing effort.

Like Roney, it was good to see Kyle Sleeth have a productive outing, even though it didn't come with a win. The Tigers have been a bit mystified by Sleeth, who hasn't adjusted nearly as well as they had hoped to AA ball. Sleeth got by on talent alone in Lakeland, and had gotten himself into some bad habits. The adjustments made with Sleeth's delivery should be beneficial to him in the long run, but for now are giving him control issues. Hopefully with an offseason where Sleeth can refine a few things, he'll be able to start off next season with Erie, and be giving many more outings like the one on Sunday.

High-A Lakeland 20-39, 6th place in West division
Lakeland again had their Sunday off, but will pick up play again on Monday, when they'll continue their game with Fort Myers that was suspended due to rain last week.

Low-A West Michigan 37-25, 1st place in Eastern division
The Whitecaps continue to roll, as they managed another victory (which makes 9 wins out of their last 10 games). This time it was an 8-0 shutout over Wisconsin. Jermy Rodriguez got the win in relief, pitching 3 innings of shutout baseball, after coming in for Cristhian Martinez, who left the game after just 2 innings. Danilo Sanchez had a huge game at the plate, going 2-for-4 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI. Garth McKinney also had a solo Home Run, his 19th. Nick McIntyre also chipped in with 2 hits, 2 runs and 2 RBI.

The Whitecaps continue one of their most improbable turnarounds, as they have transformed themselves from a bottom dweller to the probable 2nd half division champ in the Eastern division of the Midwest League. The improvement is two fold, part from an improvement from the offensive productivity (largely Kelly Hunt, Kody Kirkland, McKinney and Sanchez), and part due to the fact that the Whitecaps have stayed largely intact, while many other Low-A teams have lost some of their top players to the next level clubs. In any case, a welcome result for the Whitecaps, who now hold a 3-game lead with just 1 week of play left before the playoffs begin.

SS-A Oneonta 32-35, 3rd place in Stedler division
The O-Tigers fell to Lowell 8-3 on Sunday, largely due to defensive miscues that allowed 6 unearned runs to score on Oneonta - 5 on starter Andrew Kown and 1 on reliever Collin Mahoney. Kown pitched 6 innings, giving up 6 runs (but just 1 earned), with 5 strikeouts and no walks. He fell to 1-2 on the year. Juan Llamas went 2-for-4 with an RBI (but did also have an error), and Rafael Mendez went 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI, and also an error. Matt Williams and Brent Dlugach rounded out the errors, each committing 2 apiece.

Rookie GCL Tigers 24-36, 3rd place in Northern division
The GCL Tigers finished up their season on Saturday with a 5-4 loss to the GCL Braves. The rookie-level players will now get a couple weeks off, before returning to Lakeland to join up with a number of other minor leaguers to start the Instructional League season, which starts September 17th.

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