TigsTown MLN: Minor Leaguers That Could

Often times, everyone hears about what Curtis Granderson or Justin Verlander did in their most recent outing. But there are over 160 minor leaguers in the Tigers' farm system, and only a handful have the name recognition of Granderson or Verlander. Find out what other minor leaguers are off to hot starts this season.

Toledo
Notes: At 28, Jason Karnuth has paced the point of being a prospect and is likely simply hanging on with the hope that he still may one day receive a call-up. That day may never come, but Karnuth certainly isn't trying to leave anything up to chance, leading the way in the bullpen for the ‘Hens. Through ten innings, Karnuth is perfect on save opportunities (4-for-4) and has yet to allow an earned run.
TT Stat: Sean Douglass had his first rough outing of the year, as he fell to 3-1 on the season. In his previous four starts, Douglass had given up just two runs in four starts; but he quadrupled that total Tuesday evening against Toledo. The now 26-year old Douglass was hoping to impress Detroit with his quick start and possibly get a call-up, but six runs allowed won't make him shine over any of the Tigers' starters that are still struggling.

Erie
Notes: The SeaWolves are off to a cold start this year, but part of that had to be expected, especially after the loss of talent the club experienced after last season's team. But no one expected such low offensive output with such impressive pitching statistics, especially in Jerry Uht Park, commonly regarded as one of the friendliest hitter's parks in the league. Expect that as the weather warms up, the offensive numbers will increase.
TT Stat: Concerns about the health of Rob Henkel continue, but so far so good, as Henkel has made five starts without any problems, and looked good doing so as well, as he currently sports a 4-1 record with an ERA just over one (1.30). Henkel is also averaging over seven strikeouts per nine innings, and while his WHIP isn't great (1.38), he's kept the runs allowed down, and has only walked eight in over 27 innings of work.

Lakeland
Notes: With Andrew Good returning to Toledo, Mike Bynum was sent back down to Erie. That created the necessity for a player to move, and so Mike Kobow was dropped down from the ‘Wolves to the L-Tigers, where he'll assume a role in the bullpen. To clear that roster spot, Jermy Rodriguez, who was called up just days ago to replace Cristhian Martinez, will return to extended spring training.
TT Stat: Vincent Blue has kept up his hot hitting, with a 3-for-4 showing on Tuesday. Blue is now 12-for-24 in his last six games, and with two stolen bases last night, he is now second in the Florida State League in swipes with 10 (teammate Juan Francia is third with nine). He's also one of five L-Tigers that are in the top ten in hitting in the League (Francia, Kody Kirkland, Brent Clevlen and Scott Tousa are the others).

West Michigan
Notes: Josh Rainwater was hoping to overcome some struggles he had last season (especially with his conditioning) to put together a strong 2005 season for the Whitecaps, which would be his first year at a full season stop. Unfortunately, Rainwater injured his knee in spring training, and is now trying to work his way back from that. Unfortunately, it's a long road back and Rainwater is likely still a month away from getting back on the mound and pitching competitively.
TT Stat: Ian Ostlund isn't a big time prospect, but he's put up quite an impressive stat line working middle relief for the Whitecaps. Through 17-plus innings, he has a WHIP of 0.62, and an impressive 21 strikeouts compared to just one walk. Ostlund still isn't on the verge of rocketing up the charts, but a reliable reliever down on the farm isn't always easy to find, and Ostlund is certainly that.


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