Minor League Notebook: 9/2

The Tigers had an off day, but the minor league clubs all had games as they wrap up their regular season's this weekend. A number of Seawolves had big games at the plate, while the Whitecaps blew a chance to clinch the 2nd half division crown. All that, plus who is on pace to become the first member of the organization to reach 100 RBI? The answer will surprise many.

AAA Toledo 64-75, 3rd place in West division
Toledo dropped their game with Columbus on Thursday, losing 4-1. Pat Ahearne took the loss to fall to 9-12 on the year, going 7 1/3 innings, giving up 4 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits. He also walked 3 and struck out 5. At the plate, the team managed just 2 singles, and got its lone run when Danny Klassen walked, was moved to 2nd on a Rayner Bautista walk, stole third, and made it home via an error on the Clippers' First Baseman. Warren Morris and Rich Gomez got the 2 hits.

It's been a rough close to the 2004 season for Toledo, as they are now just a half-game out of the cellar in the West division. A month ago this time, they were fighting for the division crown, now these last few days will be spent trying to keep the team from finishing in last place. Even worse for the team, they will have to finish out the final few games without two of their relievers - John Ennis and Lino Urdaneta. Both were called up to Detroit when the rosters expanded on September 1st.

AA Erie 77-60, 2nd place in Southern division
Erie topped Reading 9-7 in 10 innings on Thursday, behind another strong day from the offense. Corey Hamman started after being called up from High-A Lakeland as starters continue to drop like flies for the Seawolves. David Espinosa and Juan Tejada both had monster games for Erie at the plate. Tejada went 4-for-6, including hitting his 21st Home Run, and driving in 3 runs. Espinosa went 3-for-5, also with a Home Run and a pair of RBI. Kurt Airoso continues to smash everything as well, launching 2 more Home Runs (giving him 32 on the year). Ryan Raburn's hit streak came to an end, but he did score a pair of runs.

A big game for Tejada, who singled home the game winning run in the 10th inning. Tejada has been able to significantly increase his power numbers this season, without giving up the solid average that he has sported throughout his minor league career. Tejada is sporting a .292 average, and is also tied for 2nd on the team in Home Runs with 21. Tejada's emergence is a bonus for the organization, as the team's First Base position will be up in the air when the season concludes. Carlos Pena has heated up as of late, but he's arbitration eligible this offseason - meaning he'll be in line for a sizable raise. There has been talk that Eric Munson would move over to First Base, but rumors are floating that Munson wants out and will request a trade in the offseason. Whichever direction the Tigers go, it's a good sign for the club that they have a potential option coming up the ranks.

High-A Lakeland 22-42, 6th place in West division
While half of the Florida State League games were cancelled on Thursday, Lakeland got its game in, winning 6-2 against Clearwater. Matt Parris pitched a complete game to even his record at 9-9 for the year. Parris allowed 2 runs on 7 hits, walking 2 and striking out 4. Gilberto Meija had a nice game, going 2-for-3, including a solo Home Run. Catcher Alex Trezza also had a big game, going 2-for-3 with 2 RBI. Scott Moore and David Mattle also had 2 hits each.

Matt Parris is slowly putting things together after an up-and-down season. It was Parris' 2nd complete game this year, as he was one of just a few members of the pitching staff left that has stayed with the L-Tigers all year long. His numbers are very average - 9-9, 4.71 ERA - however his peripheral stats aren't so strong. He's walked more batters than he's struck out (43 to 42), and his K/9 IP ratio is just 2.91 - very Nate Cornejo-esque. Parris hasn't had a bad season, but he'll have to put up good numbers at Erie (assuming he makes the jump next season) before he can really be viewed as a legit prospect.

Low-A West Michigan 39-27, 1st place in Eastern division
The Whitecaps lost to Lansing on Thursday 5-4. With the loss, they also lost the opportunity to clinch at least a share of the 2nd half division crown. Virgil Vasquez took the loss, allowing 5 runs in 6 innings. He also struck out 3. Kenon Ronz and Eulogio Delacruz pitched the final 3 innings, giving up just 1 hit, but it wasn't enough. Kelly Hunt and Eric Rodland both had big games on offense. Rodland went 3-for-5, scoring 2 runs. Hunt went 3-for-4, driving in a run. Jason Knoedler and Bo Flowers (promoted from SS-A Oneonta) each chipped in 2 hits also.

Kelly Hunt doesn't get much recognition, but the 23-year old slugger has had an excellent season for West Michigan. Hunt's .275 average won't blow anyone way, and neither will his .436 slugging percentage, but Hunt has blasted 19 Home Runs in a not-so-friendly hitters' park, while racing to become the first player in the organization to drive in 100 runs - after Thursday's game, he sits at 98. Hunt doesn't project to be a great big league hitter (he strikes out a lot and doesn't walk much, he has Home Run power, but little else), but he's been a big player this season for the Whitecaps.

SS-A Oneonta 33-38, 3rd place in Stedler division
Every O-Tiger that pitched on Thursday gave up at least one run, as Oneonta fell to Tri-City, 12-1. Jair Jurrjens took the loss, giving up 6 runs (5 earned) in 4 innings. The pitching staff put the team in a hole, but the offense did little to keep the team in the game. Brooks Colvin was the only O-Tiger to have a productive game; going 2-for-3 with the team's lone RBI.

After pitching lights out baseball in the Gulf Coast League, Jurrjens has struggled in SS-A ball. He's gone 1-5 so far, with a 5.31 ERA. However, Jurrjens is still just 18, and despite a few bad starts, is certainly still a prospect that will make some noise down the road.

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