TigsTown MLN: 'Hens Stay the Course

It's been a quiet week in Toledo, as the rest of the organization saw significant roster shakeups, the Mud Hens maintained the status quo as they continued to plug along atop the International League's West division.

No roster shifts over the past week, and none in the foreseeable future, at least in the immediate future. But things can always happen, and there are at least a few candidates among Toledo's roster that would be in search of a call-up should an injury or poor performance dictate a move.

Want names? Well, since you asked . . . pitching wise, the candidate among the starters continues to be Kenny Baugh. Sean Douglass and Andrew Good have showed well, but the Tigers look at both of those candidates as long relievers or spot starters. At 26 years old, Baugh has about reached the point where he should be coming into his peak years, meaning it's about time for him to crack the big league rotation. Baugh has solid yet unspectacular numbers at 3-3 with a 3.48 ERA, and while no current member looks ready to lose his job, Baugh will be ready if/when the time comes.

As for other spots, Matt Roney will hope to be the next reliever on the list should the bullpen be in need of another arm. Roney is in his second year out of the big leagues after being a Rule 5 selection in 2003, and after being relegated to AA Erie to start the year to "get his act together", he's back in Toledo and has yet to give up a run in his three appearances. Roney's chances of making it back into the rotation seem unlikely, but that doesn't mean he still can't be a very reliable middle reliever at the next level.

Among the hitters, everyone keeps coming back to Chris Shelton. Despite being considered not ready last season, Shelton tore up the Arizona Fall League, and has hit everyone he's faced in Toledo. His OPS (1.004), average (.335), and RBI (33) all lead the team and rank him among the top in the International League as well. And what a coincidence, Shelton happens to play the same position as a certain big leaguer who is below the Mendoza Line and is losing favor with a front office that was once hopeful for his prospects. That isn't to say the towel is about to be thrown in, but Carlos Pena's habit of slow starts better be coming to an end, especially with a quarter of the season now passed.

One player who may not quite be ready but is showing some power surge is Curtis Granderson. After seeing his average dip, Granderson attempted to make up for it with two home runs in the past week, his first two of the season. Granderson's walks have also started to pick up as of late, as he's now up to 14 on the year, not a great number, but an improvement from a line that was borderline pathetic for a player that was heralded for being patient at the plate.

And finally, one other position player making noise surprisingly with his bat. Jack Hannahan had always been known as a player with a solid glove but not much with the stick – so who would have guessed almost two months into the season, Hannahan would be second on the team with a .326 batting average. And not only the high average, but a slugging percentage of .492 is helping erase thoughts that Hannahan would never see his bat develop. Unfortunately for him, Brandon Inge is ahead of him at third, and while Hannahan may be a slight upgrade defensively, Inge has been arguably the steadiest bat in the Tigers' lineup throughout the year, and as an Alan Trammell favorite, is certainly in no danger (nor should he be) of losing his spot. So, while Hannahan hits away, he's likely stuck an hour south of where he'd like to be.

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