Tigers Arizona Fall League Update - 10/31

After another week of competition in the Arizona Fall League, the six Tiger prospects down there appear to be settling in a bit. While Chris Shelton showed that he is in fact, human, Curtis Granderson just keeps hitting the ball all over the yard. Two of the three Tiger relievers in the Rafters pen are getting less and less innings, as they struggle to miss bats. Lee Rodney has both seen his appearances dwindle, while teammates Rick Kirsten and Mark Woodyard pick up some of the slack.

Curtis Granderson was not able to keep up his torrid pace from week two, but he still hit well enough to finish the third week with a .341/.404/.415 line. Curtis picked up his fourth steal of the season while he continues to improve on his base running and "small ball" abilities. It would be nice to see Granderson start driving the ball as he was in the regular season's second half, but you can understand his desire to improve the less developed aspects of his game.

Newsflash; Chris Shelton is actually not super-human. While still hitting over .400, Shelton is not tearing the cover off the ball like he has been. Shelton still stands in the top five of nearly every offensive category, including leading the league in RBI (23) through Friday. Chris even managed to pick up an unlikely steal, but don't expect to see that repeated with any regularity.

Second baseman Ryan Raburn continues to struggle with the talented pitchers of the AFL. A .175 batting average is not what the organization was hoping to see out of its top prospect at the position. With his continuing difficulties, Raburn has seen his playing time drop to a part-time level. If he is able to get the stick going again, it is likely he would regain his spot in the every day lineup, but until then, he'll have to make do with sporadic at-bats.

A couple of difficult outings have raised Rick Kirsten's ERA (6.35) to a point where it is not indicative of the way he has pitched. Kirsten has showed that he can continue to get hitters out, even some of the top hitters in the minor leagues. This progress is an encouraging sign for a player with an outside chance at a spot in the Tiger bullpen next season.

Lee Rodney continues to be knocked around Arizona parks with disturbing regularity. He seems to be working out of some of his jams, but he certainly is not pitching with confidence at this point. After a stellar regular season, Rodney is really struggling against the top competition present in the AFL.

On the contrary, Mark Woodyard is putting together a nice fall season. Posting a 2.89 ERA with 12 strikeouts in nine innings, Woodyard is pretty much locking up his promotion to Toledo for the 2005 season.

Another week, another set of solid performances from the majority of the Tiger crew. Shelton and Granderson just keep hitting, and Woodyard and Kirsten just keep getting outs. It is looking more and more promising that Granderson and Shelton could be ready to help out in Detroit sometime in 2005, which would be a nice change for an organization that has had its share of troubles producing solid major league players.

For the first time in years, the Arizona Fall League is proving to be beneficial for the Tigers, and the prospects sent down there are putting on a good display.


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