TigsTown MLN: Verlander's Timetable

Justin Verlander has certainly made quite the splash in the Florida State League, quickly emerging as one of the top pitchers in the league. So does that mean Verlander will be looking at a promotion soon? Plus, which outfielders are quietly having great starts to their seasons?

Notes: A former first round draft pick, Kenny Baugh is finally starting to shine through as the player many hoped he would be. Unfortunately, his development was slowed tremendously by his injury problems, and now at age 26 is finally looking like he may be ready to make the jump to the big leagues, especially with the struggles at the back end of the Tigers' rotation. In any case, it's a rather sad circumstance, that a player with so much promise lost two years of development simply due to over-zealous coaches at Rice University.
TT Stat: After the disappointment of not making the big league club, Alexis Gomez has gone down to AAA and quietly gone about his business, providing solid defense and getting the job done at the plate. Gomez is hitting .319 with an OPS of .832. Gomez doesn't have a ton of home run power, but he hits the ball well to the gaps and shows some patience at the plate.

Notes: Consider it no news is good news when it comes to the progress of Kyle Sleeth and Humberto Sanchez in extended spring training. Both have continued with their progress; Sanchez hopes to be throwing a simulated game within the next week to ten days, while Sleeth is still a couple weeks behind and is looking at a June return date, as the Tigers want to be especially careful with their 2003 first round pick.
TT Stat: A month into the season, and Don Kelly keeps hitting the cover off the ball. Unfortunately, he's had more problems in the field, where he leads the team (as well as the entire organization) with eight errors. Kelly, who is hitting .348 with an OPS of 1.026, has calmed down in the field (he hasn't committed an error since April 19th), but it will be important for him to show he's over his defensive struggles, especially at the hot corner.

Notes: Justin Verlander followed up his impressive outing last week by being named the Florida State League's Pitcher of the Week for his 12 strikeout performance. With his hot start, some are already clamoring for the promotion of Verlander to a more serious challenge at AA Erie. But it's only four games in, and the Lakeland coaching staff wants to make sure that Verlander is ready to go. Plus, there's the issue of finding him a spot on an extremely deep staff in Erie. For now, expect Verlander to follow a similar path that Kyle Sleeth did last year; getting at least 8-10 starts in at Lakeland before getting the bump up to stiffer competition. It also should be noted he hasn't faced the cream of the crop of the Florida State League; his opponents thus far have a combined record of 41-58.
TT Stat: Another Tiger farmhand that has flown under the radar so far to start the year has been CF Vincent Blue, who despite hitting .344 is actually 4th on the team in average. Blue has always been considered to have plenty of potential, and appears to be ready to fulfill some of it. His batting average and gap power are promising, but even more exciting is Blue's development to take a walk (13 walks in 96 at bats). Blue's patience has produced an OBP of .418 as he's led the team in walks. A potential leadoff centerfielder, Blue could still yet emerge as a hot prospect.

West Michigan
Notes: Chalk it up to inexperience – that's the only line the Whitecaps can give after their 13 inning loss on Monday night. Collin Mahoney, who has been surprisingly strong to start the year, simply let a game get away from him, some believe due to an almost lack of concentration. It's a learning experience for Mahoney, who is just in his second year of pitching (as he spent most of his college career as a catcher). Mahoney has heat, he just needs to stay focused when the game is on the line.
TT Stat: Jody Roughton was sent back to West Michigan after playing for Lakeland in 2004 in hopes of adding some veteran leadership and a reliable bat in the middle of the lineup. So far, Roughton hasn't come through, as he has just 10 hits in 53 at bats, and is slugging just .264. Slow starts happen, but on a team where a good portion of the players are sure to go through slumps at times, the club needs Roughton to step up and bring up that .189 batting average.

Tigs Town Top Stories