Ronnie Bourquin was pushed aggressively up to Lakeland after having success last year for Oneonta. Unfortunately, that move appeared to be a bit too aggressive, as Bourquin struggled mightily in 26 games for the Flying Tigers, hitting just .192.
After seeing Bourquin struggle, the Tigers elected to return him to extended spring training, where he can get his head on straight. Bourquin has the talent, but simply was not hitting the ball well. The hope is that a few weeks against lesser competition will give Bourquin the opportunity to start hitting the ball with authority again, and then he can return to a level more up to his skills.
Meanwhile, while players like David Espinosa and Matt Joyce have struggled at Toledo and Erie respectively, there are no such plans to do something similar with them. Joyce actually has had a glimmer of hope with an impressive showing last night, but the Tigers would like to see more consistent production out of him. Meanwhile, Espinosa is getting overshadowed by Timo Perez and Ryan Raburn.
Another outfielder that was struggling until getting injured is outfielder Brent Clevlen. Many Tigers remember Clevlen for exploding on the scene last summer when he started in centerfield and properly gunned down a Minnesota Twin at home, then went on to hit a crushing homer over the Green Monster at Fenway in Boston. Now Clevlen is working to recover from the broken finger that will likely sideline him for at least another couple of weeks, at which point he'll hope to get back on track.
Moving down to Erie, where the injury bug jumped up and snagged shortstop Brent Dlugach. Dlugach has now headed down to Lakeland to work in extended spring ball and rehab his injured shoulder. Meanwhile, with the team in need of both an everyday shortstop and some extra pop in the lineup, the team signed infielder Erick Almonte.
Almonte is most commonly known as a former top Yankee prospect that briefly appeared in the pinstripes trying to fill in for the injured Derek Jeter. He held his own, hitting .260 in 31 games for the team, but wasn't able to stick, and has since found himself bouncing around the minors. The Tigers don't really have a need for Almonte at the big league level, but he should fill in adequately, especially for a lineup in desperate need of some pop.
It's a bit of a strange phenomena, as Jerry Uht Park in Erie, PA has historically been known as a hitter's park. But with the exception of Jeff Larish, no Erie player has more than two home runs, and besides Almonte, Larish is the only regular in the lineup to have an OPS over .800.
Meanwhile the Erie pitching stable continues to get shaken up as the team has guys being jumped around, largely due to the needs of the big league club. Dallas Trahern had moved up to Toledo for a start, and now Andrew Miller has made his way up to Detroit temporarily. Because of this, pitchers Jon Connolly, Matt Righter and Andrew Kown continue to get bumped up and back to accommodate the needs.
However, rest assured, when Jeremy Bonderman's blister is 100% healthy, he'll be back in the rotation, resulting in Miller heading back to Erie, and Connolly back to Toledo.