Tigers Let Several Go: While TigsTown.com has reported several of the following departures in past MLN's, the following moves are now confirmed. As previously reported, the Tigers have opted not to retain the services of minor league free agents Jacob Ramos and Jeremy Lewis. Both pitchers were signed last year to help fill roles at the lower levels, and with an abundance of pitchers floating around the lower rungs of the minors, the Tigers opted to allow these two to seek opportunities elsewhere.
In addition, the Tigers have decided to release many Latin players, including catchers Alvaro Diaz, Juan Suazo, and Orlando Gonzalez. Diaz' days seemed numbered since his suspension for using performance enhancing drugs, as the organization continues to demonstrate that it will not tolerate such behavior. Despite back-to-back solid seasons in the VSL, Orlando Gonzalez' age was working against him. Joining these catchers on the unemployment line will be infielder Jan Linares and outfielder Jose Guzman.
Rounding out the Latin releases, the Tigers have not retained lefties Jose Ortiz and Raul Severino, while also failing to bring back righties Jean Herrera and Joel Martinez.
Tigers Sign Minor League Free Agent: Signed at the end of January, infielder Derek Wathan has joined the Tigers minor league ranks. After being a 2nd-round pick of the Florida Marlins in 1998, Wathan had hit hard times, bouncing from Cinncinati in 2006 to the Cubs, Royals, and the independent leagues in 2007. The 31-year old Wathan has a career .265/.326/.379 minor league line, and he will likely compete for a reserve role with either Double-A Erie or Triple-A Toledo.
Tigers Sign Six Youngsters: The Tigers have also signed six additional Latin American youngsters; four from Venezuela, and two from the Dominican Republic. Further adding to their increasing depth of minor league catchers, the Tigers signed 16-year old Wilfredo Hoyer and 17-year old Ricardo Olivo; both from Venezuela. Joining these two as potential battery mates in the VSL this season will be right-handers Carlos Alvarez and Gino Aguirre, both signed in mid-January. The Tigers also added two more players to their DSL squad for this season, signing 5-foot-11 shortstop Alexander Nunez and 6-foot lefty Rayni Guichardo.
Position Changes: TigsTown has also learned the fate of some rumored position switches at the minor league level. Shortstop Audy Ciriaco will definitively remain at shortstop in the near term, but third base could be in his long term future; but that 'long term' does not include 2008. Third baseman Ronnie Bourquin has begun working out at first base, and he will see some time at the position this season, though the extent and permanence of this trial has yet to be finalized. Hayden Parrott will face his second position switch as he enters his third professional season; this time moving from third base to the outfield. He began working in the outfield during the Instructional League last fall, and the move will be permanent as we head towards the 2008 season. Lastly, 2007 draftee Kody Kaiser will continue to see himself worked in a bit of a utility role, as the organization will 'continue to utilize his versatility.'
Check back with TigsTown.com throughout spring training for all the latest on additional signings and releases throughout the organization.