Starting off in Toledo is a name nobody has heard much from this season; David Espinosa. After taking home two monthly awards in his first stint with the Mud Hens in 2006, Espinosa got off to a brutal start this season, posting an ugly .189/.250/.296 line through the season's first five months. With the end of the season came the proverbial light bulb for David as he put up a .317/.404/.512 line over 15 games. The strong finish to the season leaves hope that he still might have the potential to contribute at the highest level.
Down at AA-Erie, two of the usual suspects – Jeff Larish and Michael Hollimon – put together impressive months, along with nice postings from Steve Torrealba and Nick Trzesniak. However, Larish's month stood out above all others, as he slugged six home runs and 19 RBI over 30 games, on his way to leading the Eastern League in both categories for the entire season. Larish's .333/.448/.625 line for the month has rekindled talks of him contributing in Detroit in 2008, and has drawn increased prospect attention his way.
The Lakeland Flying Tigers have suffered through a very rough season, and the team's offensive performance during August reinforced those struggles. Despite a strong month from new shortstop Danny Worth, infielder Max Leon ran away with the August award. Over 28 games – mostly at third base – Leon popped a .381 average to go along with eight extra-base hits and four steals in four attempts. Leon has quietly turned in an impressive season for a second year pro out of South Mountain Community College.
It seems as though every year about this time the West Michigan Whitecaps are making a strong charge towards the playoffs, and there is always one player who stands out as leading the way. This year, that player is outfielder Jeramy Laster. Laster put together a solid, if streaky, season for the ‘Caps, and finished off the regular season in style with a .314/.358/.604 triple-slash line, backed by seven doubles, seven home runs, and an impressive 29 RBI in 27 games.
As yet another of the Tiger affiliates make a charge towards the playoffs, the Oneonta Tigers were led down the stretch by third baseman Ronnie Bourquin. Bourquin struggled early in the 2006 campaign at Lakeland, but has turned it on since returning to the New York-Penn League. His .333 average and nine extra base hits tied for the team lead in both categories last month, and his .892 OPS led the squad. For the second straight August, Bourquin takes home TigsTown's monthly award at Oneonta.
Despite a strong push at the end of the season, the GCL Tigers were kept out of the playoffs, but that result was in no way the fault of undrafted free agent Marc McBratney. The Emporia State product got rolling in August, to the tune of a .362/.431/.534 line that included 21 hits (six for extra bases) and seven walks in only 19 games. McBratney was one of the GCL Tigers more consistent performers despite not carrying the lofty draft status of some of his teammates.
With the close of the DSL season, there were several impressive months to consider. The most impressive month goes to infielder Pedruin Bautista. After an abysmal showing in the DSL last summer, Bautista returned with a vengeance, finishing the season with a .296/.430/.443 line that was boosted by a very strong .323/.440/.468 final month. Bautista should return stateside in 2008, and the Tigers will be looking for him to pick up where he left off.
Now that the regular season's have past, it is easy to see that the Tigers positional prospects are improving across the system. Contrary to previous seasons, there were plenty of difficult choices for TigsTown's monthly awards; and none were tougher than those awarded in August. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks, as TigsTown unveils it's player of the year for each team, and see which of these guys takes home the coveted yearly honor.