TigsTown MLN: Time for Fall Ball

Toledo is just one win away from becoming the second Tigers' minor league affiliate in as many years to walk away with their league crown. The season of Toledo (and in turn, the Tigers entire minor league system) may be coming to an end, but that just means Instructional League is about to start. Inside, we break down the entire Instructional League roster.

As we've mentioned previously, Instructional League is yet another important step in the development of a number of important players in the Tigers minor league system.

The Tigers will have about 40 players on the roster for the fall team, while they will certainly have a handful of other players that will be down in Lakeland working out but not participating in the actual games.

Report day is next Tuesday, September 20th, where they'll have a week of camp before getting under way in games on Monday the 26th. For many players (considering the number of teams the Tigers had participating in postseason play) this means that these guys won't get much of a break before getting back into action.

The season consists of 16 games with numerous camp days spread in between, with the year wrapping up in the third week of October. At that point, players will take a break and either prepare for winter ball, or simply begin to get to work on their offseason training schedules.

There are a number of notables among the pitchers, including former Tiger starter Wilfredo Ledezma. Ledezma of course entered the year with a rotation spot guaranteed to him, only to have him fall flat on his face and lose that spot.

Besides Ledezma, the Tigers will have most of their top pitching prospects participating in the league. That includes Jordan Tata, Jair Jurrjens, Josh Rainwater, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio DeLa Cruz and Kevin Whelan.

Justin Verlander has been in Lakeland for the past month and will likely remain down there for the coming month (and maybe more). But don't expect to see Verlander partake in any of the Instructional League games, as the Tigers will be extremely careful in bringing Verlander around.

Joel Zumaya is also missing from the roster; he's being given the fall off after having pitched a career high in innings this past summer. At just 20, Zumaya still is young and developing, and his late season struggles convinced the Tigers that Joel had hit his wall for the year, and it was time to shut him down.

Among the position players, both of West Michigan's catchers, Dusty Ryan and Chris Robinson, will be present in Lakeland to get some more seasoning in.

They'll be joined by the left side of the infield from West Michigan; Wilkin Ramirez and Brent Dlugach. Both Dlugach and Ramirez had standout seasons for the ‘Caps, and will likely continue try and develop with extra work in fall ball.

Oneonta is also chipping in with a few of their infielders; first baseman Jeff Larish, third baseman Cory Middleton, and shortstop Michael Holliman. Larish will especially be one to watch as he had some of the best power potential of anyone in the 2005 draft.

Kody Kirkland and Juan Francia will help round out the infielders of note.

And finally in the outfield, where the Tigers top two outfield prospects; Brent Clevlen and Jeff Frazier will both be in action. They'll be joined by another '05 draftee in Clete Thomas, as well as big swinger (but still trying to figure out the other aspects of hitting) Garth McKinney.

As always, fall ball will be an important stretch for the development of these young players' careers. Over the coming month, will be giving occasional updates as we get them.

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