Arizona Fall League Notes
Scott Sizemore's surgery was reportedly a success earlier this week, but that doesn't mean replacing him on the AFL roster will be any easier. "That's a blow to our club. He came out on fire, and he was a big bat in the middle of our lineup. It hurts," said Manager Kevin Bradshaw. Sizemore is still slated to be ready for spring training, and the Tigers will still have a very difficult decision on their hands regarding Placido Planco and the 2010 season.
One of the players that will try to continue his hot hitting to help the Javelinas' lineup is outfielder Casper Wells. Wells just keeps on ripping the ball, knocking two more extra-base hits in the last week, and bumping his season line to an impressive .371/.439/.800 through nine games played.
Though his start was horrific, Cale Iorg may finally have things going a bit in the AFL. "After his season in Erie, the organization gave him a lot of things to work on this fall. Anytime a player is given a lot of things to try and correct at once, I think you can expect a period of failure," said Bradshaw.
Iorg's failure came in the form of a 2-for-12 start to the AFL season, but he has since turned things around a bit, starting with a 3-for-5 game on Tuesday with a home run, two singles, and three runs scored. He continued that trend with a double in Wednesday's contest. The changes Iorg was asked to make this fall could benefit him long term and help him maintain his lofty prospect status.
On the hill, Robbie Weinhardt seems to be settling into a groove after some rough opening outings. As you may expect with any pitcher in a new environment, Bradshaw thinks some of it may have been nerves for Weinhardt; "I think he might have come out trying to do too much. He was over-throwing a bit and anytime a pitcher does that they can get in trouble. He's been really good lately, and I think that is going to continue."
Interestingly, while the Arizona Fall League is widely known as an offensive haven, Bradshaw thinks we might start to see the tables turned a bit in the coming weeks. "You wouldn't think so, but when we got here, the hitters were ahead of the pitchers, and I think we're seeing them start to catch up."
After not seeing action in the first dozen or so games, right-hander Thad Weber finally got on the hill for two relief outings this week, putting together solid outings in both cases. When asked why he wasn't on the hill earlier, it was a pretty straight forward situation for Bradshaw, "We had him throw a BP session when we first got out here, and he came down with some stiffness in his triceps. We shut him down, and about three days later we had him throw again, but he was still feeling it. He just recently worked on the side again, and things felt great."
Scot Drucker continues to work as one of Peoria's better starters, with one more start in the last week, and another coming later Friday. Despite allowing four runs on three hits in two innings last Saturday, some observers felt Drucker was the victim of a little bad luck.. Behind the scenes rumors seem to be indicating that the Tigers are using the AFL as a chance to evaluate Drucker as a long shot candidate to contribute in Detroit during the 2010 season.
Liga de Beisbol Dominicano
Wilkin Ramirez is doing his best to make sure he garners plenty of attention when roster decisions are made for the 2010 season. Through six games with Licey, Ramirez has ripped the ball to the tune of a .444/.545/.667 line with four walks and only three strikeouts; that's a big improvement for a player prone to strikeouts throughout his minor league career. Ramirez debuted this fall with a 2-for-2 performance, and has proceeded to collect a hit in all but one outing. His last game saw him knock his first home run of the season along with two walks.
Two of the Tigers other young prospects continue to gain experience across the field from Ramirez, as Brennan Boesch and Alex Avila both continue to see plenty of action with the Leones. Avila has seen plenty of time behind the plate, and while he is only hitting .182 through nine games, he has managed to walk four times and continue turning in quality at-bats.
Outfielder Brennan Boesch hasn't seen the field since last Sunday for Escogido, and according to Tigers Director of Minor League Operations Dan Lunetta via email earlier today, Boesch is 'nursing a sore leg.' Other sources indicate the injury is not serious and Boesch should be returning to the lineup in short order.
After some pre-season speculation that right-hander Alfredo Figaro would figure prominently in the starting rotation for Estrellas, he has yet to appear in a game. Word out there still indicates he should be pitching for them this winter, but a timeline has yet to be publicly established.
Liga Venezuela Beisbol Professional
One year after earning himself a spot on the 40-man roster with a solid AFL performance, Zach Simons is back at it in winter ball, this time looking to earn himself a spot in the big leagues in 2010. After two strong outings to start his season, Simons was touched up for two runs without recording an out two weeks ago. The right-handed reliever has bounced back strong in his last two outings, firing two shutout innings with only two hits and two strikeouts.
Young right-hander Luis Sanz hasn't pitched since last Friday when he fired a shutout inning of relief with one strikeout, keeping his fall league ERA at a perfect 0.00 through three outings. Sanz isn't a big contributor for Caracas, but he should see time as an extra arm out of the bullpen.
Prior to the Fall Instructional League, the Tigers decided to ink left-hander Wilfredo Ramirez to another contract in order to give him a chance to get back to the states in 2010. He pitched well in Lakeland, and has picked up where he left off, now pitching for Tiburones in Venezuela. After a strong two-inning debut last week, Ramirez gave up three hits and a run without recording an out last Friday. The mature, soon to be 22-year old prospect bounced back with another shutout performance on Tuesday, tossing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief with one strikeout.
The numbers for Liga Paralela have finally started to roll in, and there are some very intriguing results. Some of the highlights through the first two weeks of games include a strong debut from third baseman Jesus Ustariz. Ustariz has posted a .353 batting average and .455 on-base percentage while appearing in nine games. A polished hitter for his age, Ustariz has walked more than he has struck out, though he has yet to show his power potential.
Another newcomer showing well early on is infielder Erick Soto. Soto has already knocked four doubles in nine games, leading to a .333/.375/.467 line in what is a relatively tough offensive environment.
One of the Tigers top young catching prospects, Gabriel Purroy has continued to demonstrate that its not all about defense for him. Purroy has started eleven games for the Tigers, ripping the ball at a .342 clip while slugging four doubles and driving in three runs. Purroy has also thrown out four of the eleven base runners who have attempted to steal on him.
On the hill, Fernando Celis is showing his polish and experience through three starts. Totaling 13 1/3 innings, Celis has a 0.68 ERA, has allowed only eight hits and four walks, and has struck out eight.
After a rough stateside debut, left-hander Jose Siso has come out strong so far for the Tigers, with a 3.00 ERA through three starts, spanning twelve innings. Though he has allowed 13 hits, Siso has only walked four (a step in the right direction for him) and struck out an impressive 14 along the way.
Check back with TigsTown.com for more on Liga Paralela as the information continues to roll in on who many of the Tigers young prospects are faring, particularly those making their unofficial professional debuts.