Notes: As the Mud Hens continue to wait on their home opener that is this upcoming weekend, the front office is busy negotiating on a variety of other deals. After yesterday's announcement that they'd be making 40 live televised games available via webcast, today news has come out that the Mud Hens organization is negotiating to purchase the Toledo Storm, a minor league hockey club, who has been struggling in the past few years to draw fans. The Mud Hens, one of the most successful clubs in all of minor league baseball, would certainly help strengthen a struggling franchise.
TT Stat: Back to the baseball club, veteran minor league catcher Brandon Harper is also off to a hot start at the plate for the Mud Hens. Harper, who is splitting time with Sandy Martinez, has 3 doubles and 6 hits in just 4 games for the ‘Hens, as he battles to grab the full time job. Harper just turned 29, but the Tigers are always just 1 injury away from needing to promote someone, and if Harper continues to impress, he may well be that guy.
Notes: Last season's shortstop, Anderson Hernandez, was traded to the Mets over the off-season in exchange for backup catcher Vance Wilson. But just a few days into the season, the SeaWolves were already facing off against their old mate, as the Mets' AA affiliate, the Binghamton Mets, came to town to take on the SeaWolves. Hernandez didn't take long to impress, with a pair of hits and some excellent defensive work at shortstop. With the presence of Carlos Guillen above him and Tony Giarratano behind him, Hernandez was expendable, but that still doesn't mean he couldn't become a useful major leaguer.
TT Stat: After a year off, Nate Cornejo got his first crack in the game, pitching 3 1/3 innings with 2 earned runs, 1 walk and 1 strikeout. Those numbers are certainly not ground-breaking, but rather the first step in a journey in which Cornejo hopes will land him back in the big leagues. His velocity certainly hasn't returned to where it once was when he was with the SeaWolves and won 20 games between 3 levels in 2001, but again, it's a start.
Notes: After struggling through a rough year last season, the L-Tigers are off to a good start to kick off the '05 campaign, including four straight wins. A good sign, as the team appears to have received an influx of talent after last year's struggles, when they were limited in prospects, and those that they did have struggled to live up to their billing. Receiving a number of players from last season's Midwest League champs never hurts of course.
TT Stat: Turns out Brandon Harper hasn't been the only catcher in the organization off to a hot start, as Danilo Sanchez is among the team's leaders in all of its offensive categories. In 4 games, Sanchez is hitting .467 with 2 home runs and 2 doubles, and also leads the club in RBI with 7. Sanchez didn't turn it on offensively until the second half of '04, but appears to have carried over his success into the start of 2005.
Notes: The Whitecaps were off on Monday after their home opening series was marked by a scary incident with Andrew Kown being carted off the field. And while it was exciting for the ‘Caps to play before a packed audience of more than 8,000 in their opener, it'll likely be even more exciting in August when they make their way down to Comerica Park. The Whitecaps and the Tigers have arranged for the Whitecaps to hold a home game August 22nd at Comerica Park in Detroit. Tickets can be purchased at the Whitecaps box office, but will also be available the day of the game.
TT Stat: The Tigers hit it big in the 11th round of the 2002 draft with Joel Zumaya, and now they're looking for similar luck with 2004 11th rounder Josh Kauten. Kauten got one of the Whitecaps' two wins so far, pitching 5 shutout innings, including 4 strikeouts. Kauten will need to keep pitching well though if he hopes to keep his spot, as Eric Beattie will be looking to jump to the ‘Caps in the coming weeks, and the team will need to open up a rotation spot for him.