Starting at the top, it's high time to reward a player who's been consistently good this season. Toledo first baseman Josh Phelps has had a sensational season for the ‘Hens, and his July numbers were no different. After posting a .345/.390/.655 line for the month, Phelps raised his season totals to .316/.360/.551. If the Tigers get in a pinch, they may very well have an extra answer for first base, sitting at Toledo.
Fans have been waiting to see the real Brent Clevlen, and not only are they seeing him in Detroit right now, but they also caught a glimpse of him at AA before his promotion. Last season, Clevlen was named the Florida State League MVP, and the organization had high hopes that he may have finally figured out his game. The early returns this season were down right ugly. However, in July, Clevlen began to figure out the more advanced pitchers of his new league, posting a .266/.355/.489 line that included three doubles and six homeruns. His stay in Detroit was supposed to be brief, but two quick homeruns and some top notch defense may keep him there for a while.
The Lakeland Tigers saw exceptional performances from two unlikely offensive performers; Chris Robinson and Brent Dlugach. While their numbers for the month were very similar, the edge goes to Robinson based on his defensive contributions behind the plate. Robinson logged a .365/.403/.444 line, and raised some eyebrows with 5 doubles, leaving hope that he may develop some modicum of power. The Tigers are surely thrilled with the offensive progress of Robinson, and if these trends continue, he may yet be able to contribute at the Major League level.
West Michigan has seen an offensive explosion of late. An explosion that includes outstanding hitting from Michael Hollimon, Will Rhymes, Michael Hernandez, Jeramy Laster, Justin Justice, and of course, Cameron Maybin. Despite all the competition, nobody could keep up with last year's top pick. Maybin again dominated the Midwest League, leaving fans wondering what he has to do to earn a promotion to Lakeland. His .376/.457/.535 line for the month was very impressive, and vaulted him into the lead for the Midwest League batting crown.
This month debuts the awards for the short-season clubs, and Oneonta had plenty of competition. Combining tremendous offensive production and a change from second base to shortstop, gives the edge to 2006 draftee Scott Sizemore. The Virginia Commonwealth star has logged a .335/.385/.466 season, built largely on his July numbers. Sizemore has regained the form that made him a top prospect following his 2005 college season, and he certainly warrants watching as the season comes to a close.
Following the lead of the O-Tigers, the Gulf Coast League Tigers had plenty of competition for their first awards of the 2006 season. Despite resurgence by Audy Ciriaco, and phenomenal starts by Gorkys Hernandez and Luis Arlet, none of them could match the performance of first baseman Chris Carlson. Carlson did exactly what was expected of him after his assignment to the GCL. He absolutely pounded the day-lights out of his competition. Carlson notched 7 doubles and 7 homeruns en route to a .296/.394/.642 month.
For the first time in TigsTown's history, we debut monthly awards for the Tigers Dominican and Venezuelan Summer League Teams. The DSL Tigers haven't found their offensive groove as of yet, but 18-year old Jose Constanza notched a .264/.480/.321 month with 10 stolen bases. Constanza isn't a top prospect, but his speed and patience at the plate are something that is sorely lacking throughout the system. The Tigers joint VSL team with the Marlins rode the back of top prospect Alexis Espinoza, who posted an insane .386/.427/.600 line for the month. Espinoza has the potential to become a true 5-tool talent, and he doesn't turn 18 until December. Keep an eye on him as he is likely to make his move stateside after dominating his home country this season.
As heat waves swept the country, some hot bats made things even worse in some Tigers minor league cities. While the Tigers have struggled for ages to develop any number of hitters, it appears they may have a few in the hopper that could develop into legitimate prospects. Watch as we enter the dog days of summer to see if these hot Tiger prospects can keep things going.