Seven Tiger Farmhands Headed to Arizona

Every fall, big league clubs send some of their best and brightest youngsters to Arizona for continued work – and to see how they stack up against some of the best out there. The Tigers have announced who they'll be sending from the organization.

The Tigers, who will be represented by the Mesa Solar Sox, will send seven players (three hitters and four pitchers) to Arizona to get some additional work in this fall. The Tigers are sending starting right-hander Luis Marte, relievers Rudy Darrow, Casey Fien and Zach Simons, infielder Jeff Larish, outfielder Clete Thomas, and catcher Dusty Ryan to Arizona to continue to work.

The focus for Jeff Larish will be getting experience – not at the plate, but rather, at the hot corner, and possibly in a corner outfield slot as well. Larish is a first baseman by trade, and a good one at that, but is blocked at the big league level by Miguel Cabrera. And with Cabrera firmly entrenched there for much of the next decade, the Tigers want to try and find another way to get Larish's bat in the lineup. They're hopeful it can be at third base.

Dusty Ryan meanwhile won't be looking to move to a new position – but the Tigers want to get him as much work as possible, because the Tigers want to find out if they have a potential big league contributor in 2009. After finally turning things on this season for Erie at the plate, Ryan has continued that in Toledo. Now, with the Tigers in search of help both short and long term behind the dish, Ryan could be the answer – but the Tigers need to see him produce over more than just a few hundred at-bats.

The final member that will be in the lineup from the Tigers will be Clete Thomas, who the Tigers like as an all-around player, but would like to see some more development. Thomas now projects to be more of a fourth outfielder than an everyday player, but has the tools that could change that.

Luis Marte will likely be the lone member from the organization that will enter the rotation – and Marte will have plenty to prove. Marte was dominant in Lakeland (arguably more so than Rick Porcello while they were teammates), but then hit the disabled list, and hasn't been the same pitcher since returning for Double-A Erie, posting a 5.22 ERA in nine starts. In four of Marte's last five starts, he's allowed three runs or less – now the Tigers hope to see that stretch continue against some of the best hitters below major league ball.

Casey Fien was talked about off-and-on as a possible bullpen candidate for the Tigers this season – so now it's clear the Tigers will be strongly considering him for a slot in the ‘pen in '09. Fien has posted a 2.91 ERA between Erie and Toledo this year, with a 3.6 K:BB ratio. Fien has worked mostly as a setup man for Toledo, which is likely where his future lies. And given the uncertainty around that group, it's quite possible that another strong showing could put Fien in the driver's seat for one of those slots.

Rudy Darrow and Zach Simons will both get opportunities to work middle relief, with Simons the only member of the Detroit delegation that has yet to sniff Double-A ball. Darrow has continued to shine since his promotion to Erie, highlighted by a .216 average against for the year. Simons, who was acquired in exchange for Jason Grilli earlier this season, has an even better average against at .157, and being a lefty, has the chance to move quickly as a possible situational guy.

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