Of course, the most notable loss was that of Justin Verlander to the SeaWolves. Obviously it hurts losing a pitcher that was as dominant as Verlander was for the first couple months of the season, but there was never any real expectation that Verlander would spend an entire year in Lakeland. His talent simply over-matched virtually every hitter he faced.
So, how does the rotation look now with the loss of Verlander?
Well, Nate Bumstead and Jordan Tata became the front line guys. The organization would like to move Tata up as well as he's proven he can handle the high-A level, but there currently is no room for Tata up in Erie. Randor Bierd, brought down after a brief appearance with Erie, will hold a rotation spot.
With these five, this obviously spells the end for Eulogio DeLa Cruz and his experiment in the rotation. The Tigers wanted to help stretch out DeLa Cruz and make him see batters a second time around, forcing him to throw more than one pitch. DeLa Cruz has been more willing to use his off-speed pitches, and so, with DeLa Cruz obviously being a natural reliever, he'll return to his role in the ‘pen.
The L-Tigers infield also got a shake-up when they lost both Juan Francia and Scott Tousa to Erie, two of the team's top contact hitters (Tousa at .310, Francia at .325). The L-Tigers did however get back Gilberto Mejia, who was struggling for the SeaWolves, hitting just .190/.266/.261 in mostly a reserve role (at least up until Tony Giarratano was promoted to Detroit).
Lakeland also added Juan Gonzalez (re-signed after being released by the Seattle Mariners) back to the roster, where he'll get the majority of time at shortstop. Eric Rodland, who has been bouncing around so far this year, we'll be inserted at second (his natural position) and receive most of the playing time there. Mejia will still likely see a good number of at bats as well, filling in for the two.
One final note on Lakeland is the impressive production from Brent Clevlen at the Florida State League All Star game, where Clevlen won the Home Run derby, then followed it up a day later with a home run in the game. Hopefully, Clevlen will be able to take that success and use it in the second half of the year, to help avoid a complete fall-out that he experienced, similar to last year. Granted, Clevlen's power numbers have already eclipsed his numbers from all of last year, but it's important nonetheless for him to keep producing after making strides in the spring.
Finally, the Futures Game team was announced on Wednesday, the annual game on Sunday afternoon of All Star weekend, showcasing some of the top minor leaguers in baseball as the United States faces the rest of the world. The Tigers two representatives for this year's team will be a pair of Erie SeaWolves; Joel Zumaya and Justin Verlander.
One other name on the roster that may ring a bell; Scott Moore. Yes, that'd be the same Scott Moore that the Tigers gave up on and shipped off to the Chicago Cubs in part of the package for Kyle Farnsworth. For the first half of the season, Moore hit .309/.387/.576, and has sky-rocketed up the top prospect charts in Chicago.