First, for those that aren't familiar, the Fall Instructional League is exactly what it sounds like. It's a four week long camp where pitchers and players work out in Lakeland, receiving additional instruction from the Tiger coaching staff, and gaining additional work.
The camp is typically geared toward newer arrivals to the organization, players that likely didn't compete in a full season league; either because they were just drafted this past summer, or because they were participating in rookie level ball this season.
Of course, that doesn't mean the group is without headliners either.
The top players get sent to the high profile Fall Leagues (in Arizona and Hawaii), while Instructional League is much more informal, and geared toward working with players in a less public way. So while Jeff Larish and a number of his Erie stars will be heading to Arizona to compete with the best of every farm system, the rest of the Tiger farmhands will head to Lakeland for internal team work, and some glorified scrimmages amongst teams in the area.
Amongst the pitchers that will be in camp, it will be pretty much every name draftee from this past summer, highlighted by top pick Rick Porcello. After Porcello, Brandon Hamilton, Luke Putkonen, Charlie Furbush, Casey Crosby and Manny Miguelez will all be in camp.
Furbush was the only one of the group that made it past the rookie level this season, and he's still in action with the Whitecaps where he excelled. In eight starts, Furbush went 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA for the ‘Caps, including 46 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings.
The group at the plate should be an interesting one as well, especially in the outfield, where the core from West Michigan will all be in attendance; Deik Scram, Gorkys Hernandez and Brennan Boesch. Joining them will also be the converted outfielder Wilkin Ramirez, whose power is unquestioned but who is still waiting for the other aspects of his game to come around.
In the diamond, the Tigers have a few name players as well. If Charlie Furbush was #1 among productive new draftees, then Danny Worth is #1A. Due to injuries to a number of shortstops (specifically Tony Giarratano and Brent Dlugach), Worth was forced to jump from college ball all the way up to high-A Lakeland (and briefly Double-A Erie) where he more than held his own. Joining him will be '06 draftees Scott Sizemore and Ronnie Bourquin, as well as Audy Ciriaco and Ryan Roberson.
Finally, behind the dish, James Skelton has quickly emerged as the top catching prospect in the organization, and likely will be the main man at catcher. Jordan Newton, Joe Bowen and recent draftee Devin Thomas all will also be in camp and getting work in as the backstop.
Fall Ball reporting day is Tuesday, September 18th, with one week of camp before three weeks of camp and games with nearby Atlanta and Cleveland. Games will be open to the public with no admission costs.