TigsTown MLN: Scouting the 'Caps

With the West Michigan Whitecaps coming to play in the metro Detroit area, many local Tiger fans may be anxious to get a chance to see some of the Tigers' youngsters and who exactly they should be watching for when they head out to the game on Monday. TigsTown breaks it down for you, and gives you a look at some of the top guys to keep your eye on.

Starting with the lineup, there's quite a few guys to watch.

The name Jeff Frazier probably sounds familiar; he was the Tigers third round pick in 2004, and after a slow start, has turned things around with an excellent second half. The left fielder has a smooth swing and a very good power stroke, though it may not be completely evident in the depths of Comerica Park.

His outfield mate Clete Thomas, hasn't been around long, but is already making an impact. Thomas moved up quickly to West Michigan after hitting everything that came his way at Oneonta, and is now sporting a .308 average for the ‘Caps. Thomas was always regarded as an excellent athlete, and may finally be putting it together.

Wilkin Ramirez on the other hand, is just starting to learn the intricacies of the game in his first full length season. The tool you'll want to watch Ramirez for; his pure power. He's only slugging .407, but he's only 19 years old and is also coming off a serious shoulder surgery. The simple fact is, the ball just jumps off the bat of Ramirez. His defense on the other hand hasn't been quite as pretty, and there's a chance Ramirez will remain as the designated hitter while Nick McIntyre, who while isn't a big prospect, will man third base.

One final player of note is Brent Dlugach, who after a rough start at the plate in 2004 with Oneonta, has really seen his bat come around for West Michigan. Dlugach makes solid contact, and can drive the ball to the gaps, but he still lacks patience at the plate, something he'll have to improve on as a shortstop, so long as he can remain at shortstop (some still are concerned with his height - 6' 5" – and whether or not he can remain there long term).

Whoever happens to be the backstop will also be one to watch, as both Dusty Ryan and Chris Robinson have promising futures in the organization, especially Robinson, whose bat may be off to a slow start but is often called ‘Curtis Granderson behind the plate' for his ability to do everything well.

Turning to the mound, it will be Jeff Hahn's turn in the rotation to take the mound, so barring the Tigers deciding to move up Dallas Trahern in the rotation, Hahn will be the man to take the ball. Hahn is 2-1 in his three starts, though he's not among the top ranked prospects. The big righty is already 23 years old (and will turn 24 in September), putting him at least a year behind the curve. He's nonetheless a recent draft pick and will get an opportunity should he keep up his 3.50 ERA.

As for the bullpen, this is a group to watch. P.J. Finigan, Kevin Ardoin and Kevin Whelan are all recent draft picks out of the college ranks that may get a chance to pitch on Monday night at the CoPa. Whelan is the closer and the most highly regarded of the group, while Finigan and Ardoin still have rotation potential, and are likely only pitching out of the ‘pen to limit their 2005 innings (after having already pitched complete college seasons).

All in all, it should be an entertaining night for Tiger fans to get a taste of some of the future Tigers they don't get to see on a regular basis.

For those in need of a reminder, the game starts at 7:05pm at Comerica Park in Detroit. Tickets for the game are all general admission and are $10 each. They're taking on the Fort Wayne Wizards.


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