Tigers Arizona Fall League Update - 11/8

Will Chris Shelton ever stop hitting? So far this fall, the answer is looking like a resounding "No!". Shelton spent another week hitting the ball hard and driving in runs, while fellow Tiger farmhand Curtis Granderson continues to get the job done ahead of him in the order. While the offensive stars have been making headlines, it appears that some of the Tiger minor league hurlers are settling in as well.

Earlier this fall, Shelton shared Player of the Week honors with Phillies' prospect Ryan Howard. This time around, Shelton decided he wanted the award all to himself. After a phenomenal first month, Chris was named the Arizona Fall League's Player of the Month for October. After the first week in November, Shelton still stands at a .400/.462/.750 line, standing in the top five in the league in average, homeruns, RBI, hits, doubles, slugging percentage, and extra base hits. That is quite an impressive list for any player, and even more impressive when considering that Shelton has done this while shaking off the rust of a season spent on Detroit's bench.

Second base prospect Ryan Raburn finally put together a decent week, raising his line to .200/.305/.380. With a two homer game, and nearly as many walks as strikeouts on the season, Raburn is showing that the prospect star still shines deep within. His numbers may be down from his outstanding Eastern League campaign, but concern should be minimal at this point.

Possibly the organizations top overall prospect, Curtis Granderson, continues to improve his "small-ball" game, while maintaining those aspects that made him so successful in 2004. Granderson is drawing walks, stealing bases, playing effective situational baseball, and most importantly, continuing to drive the ball all over the park. With a .351/.415/.474 line, Granderson is making it known that he won't go quietly in the battle for Detroit's centerfield spot in 2005.

After a rough couple of weeks, triple-A swingman Rick Kirsten is settling in, dropping his ERA nearly a full run in one week's work. Kirsten has been working exclusively as a reliever in Arizona, but the organization plans to use him as a key member of the Toledo rotation in 2005.

Sent to Arizona to work on consistency and control, Lee Rodney and Mark Woodyard have gone in exactly opposite directions so far this fall. Rodney continues to struggle, giving up hits and runs like they are going out of style, while seeing his strikeout rates continue to fall. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mark Woodyard has taken advantage of his extra opportunity this fall, making an impressive showing. Woodyard has used his mid-90s heat, combined with solid breaking pitches to post a low ERA in an offensively dominated league. At this rate, Woodyard could garner some attention as a sleeper for the 2005 Detroit bullpen.

Overall, there have been signs of life from nearly all the Tiger prospects in the AFL, most notably Chris Shelton and Curtis Granderson. Continued results like this will most certainly elevate their confidence heading into spring training, and may result in an extra look or chance to make the roster. Detroit still has several areas of need, and both players could step in and make some noise in 2005.

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