Arizona Fall League Update: Week Five

The Mesa Solar Sox remain just a couple games out of first place in the American division, but that's not what concerns the Tigers. What is of concern of course is how the half dozen Tigers on the team are progressing through five weeks in Arizona.

Humberto Sanchez has remained the most pleasant surprise of anyone the Tigers sent to the team. Sanchez had one start the past week, pitching five shutout innings for Mesa, though he still didn't get a victory. Sanchez now has the best ERA of any of the starters on the team (2.82), and also leads the club in strikeouts with 25. His control and stamina have still been slight concerns – he's never pitched more than five innings, and he leads the team with 12 walks – but the Tigers are much more likely to focus on the good that has come, namely his ability to consistently retire some of the best hitters in all of minor league baseball.

Mark Woodyard's troubles in the AFL have been detailed, and he never even got the opportunity to make amends in week five, as he never made an appearance over the course of the week.

The news was better when it comes to Adam Peterson, who made a pair of appearances, shutting out the opposition in both. All told, in three innings, Peterson gave up two hits and two walks while striking out four. Those stats bring his season ERA down to 5.11, and he'll look to improve on that in his final week, as with four games remaining he still has a chance of making one more appearance for the Solar Sox.

Moving to the position players, things have been moving along at about the same pace. David Espinosa has continued his second half downswing, as his splits have now fallen to .250/.319/.328. That leaves him with an OPS of just .647, which is down from .862 at the half way point. Needless to say, Espinosa isn't winning over many with his production.

Don Kelly saw his offensive numbers pick up a bit, bringing his average up to .264. But that came with no extra base hits once again (he has just two doubles while playing every day for Mesa), and committed yet another error, his fifth. He still leads the team.

Finally, Kody Kirkland got a chance to get a few more at bats, but didn't quite take advantage of them. Kirkland kept his average (.323) and on base percentage up (.400), but his power numbers fell off, as his slugging percentage took a huge dip. Kirkland has a double, a triple and a home run on the year, and while his rate slugging fell to .516 from .700, it's still a respectable production level for Kirkland.

The Tigers will hope to post a good final week to pull up the group as a whole and close the season out on a high note.


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