Roundtable: Best/Worst from the AFL?

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff on some of the hot button topics of the offseason? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: Who was the most impressive Tiger in Arizona this fall, and who did the least to help himself in the AFL?

Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
I think the clear consensus of who helped himself was Humberto Sanchez. Sanchez displayed the talent we all know he has, and stayed healthy all six weeks to put together a great stretch. Adam Peterson and Mark Woodyard didn't perform, but I think the biggest dud was easily David Espinosa. If not for a strong last couple games, Espinosa would have carried a slugging percentage of below .400 (as it was, the final week helped boost him to .410). That .410 slugging percentage leaves him well below the league average of .470, and an SLG+ of 87.2 is not going to get him anywhere near the big leagues as a corner outfielder.

Mark Anderson, Minor League Editor
The obvious choice for most impressive is right-hander Humberto Sanchez, who posted a 2.15 ERA in six AFL starts. However, Donnie Kelly may have made more out of his trip to the desert. Kelly, who disappeared from prospect radars after a career threatening shoulder injury in 2004, demonstrated enough offense and some mild defensive progress to suggest he might be able to contend for a utility spot in 2006. With the ability to play every infield position with some aplomb, Kelly could be a nifty offensive option for the typically defensive oriented utility role. On the flip side, Kelly's teammate in Erie, David Espinosa, did little to help his stock. Following another season in which he collapsed during the season's second half, Espinosa showed relatively little offensively in a league dominated by hitters. Despite showing solid strike zone judgment and the ability to hit for some average, Espinosa's offensive game missed a huge opportunity to take him to the next level. An outstanding performance in the AFL would likely have meant one of two things for Espinosa; a 40-man roster spot with the Tigers, or a Rule 5 selection by another club in December. Unfortunately, neither looks likely at this point, and Espinosa will have to show he can put it together with AAA-Toledo in 2006.

Jason Avery, Amateur Baseball Editor
Humberto Sanchez was the most impressive, which is encouraging because he had an injury plagued season, so for Humberto to pitch well in the AFL and showcase the stuff he had gives him a nice springboard going into next year. He doesn't get mentioned much because of his past injuries, but if he can put together a solid year at Erie/Toledo, he might get a look in September. Adam Peterson was pounded at Erie this year and his shelling in the AFL likely will lead to his removal from the 40-man roster. Peterson hasn't been the same since he was torched in his brief appearance in the majors with Toronto last year and even though he has a power arm, he is 26 and the Tigers have to think about protecting younger players on the roster. It's hard to believe that the Tigers didn't take a flier on Bobby Jenks, but did on Peterson.

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