Detroit Tigers Minor League Baseball Commentary and Analysis
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Lakeland had another tough season in 2011 but they had their top performers. Here’s a few of the guys who got it done at the plate.
Jordan Lennerton led the team in walks (92) and runs (75) and he also led all regular players in OPS with .841. Lennerton’s biggest problem is he’s blocked at first base so chances of making the big league club are slim but if he continues to hit like he did in 2011, maybe he’ll find a new spot out on the field where the Tigers can use him.
Tony Plagman led the team in home runs (18) and RBIs (97) and he did while only striking out 94 times. He only hit .257 so that hurt his OPS and he’s primarily a DH so that means like Lennerton, he’ll probably find his way blocked but it should fun seeing how this guy hits at Erie next year.
Avisail Garcia was third on the team with eleven home runs but his plate discipline needs a ton of work He walked eighteen times yet he struck out 122 times. The one thing he has going for him is he’s young (he’s only 20) so maybe he’ll get some work to be a more discplined hitter and he can contend for an outfield job with the Tigers down the line.
Jacob Turner was ranked seventh amongst all prospects by MLB.com in their annual release. That’s not surprising with his solid showing at Double-A as just a 20 year old. The Tigers haven’t signed anyone yet to be the fifth starter and there’s a chance Turner could break camp as a member of the big league rotation.
His secondary pitches seem to be improving and that’s what’s turning him into a complete pitcher. Of course the Tigers rushed Rick Porcello up and that didn’t work well. I’d like to see him start the season in Toledo and let him work on things there. With the Tigers making a run at another division title, I wonder if the pressure will be too much. Not for Turner, but to potentially misuse him if he’s pitching well.
1) Jacob Turner RHP
2) Nick Castellanos 3b
3) Drew Smyly LHP
4) Casey Crosby LHP
5) Andy Oliver LHP
6) Brenny Paulino RHP
7) Rob Brantly C
8) Alex Burgos LHP
9) James McCann C
10) Avisail Garcia OF
Pitching was weak for the Flying Tigers in 2011 but the team had some rising stars on their roster. Here’s a look at some of the better hurlers in 2011.
Drew Smyly only made 14 starts for the team but he struck out 77 batters in 80 1/3 ininngs and he did while walking only 21. Also, he only gave up a single home run. That resulted in a 7-3 record with a 2.58 ERA before he was promoted.
Kenny Faulk was the team’s primary closer and he looked sharp in his 52 2/3 innings. He struck out 67, only walked 15 and he finished with 20 saves and a 2.56 ERA. He’ll be 25 in May so he’s no longer a prospect but he’s left handed and is throwing well so you might see him in a Tigers uniform in 2013 if the Tigers hang onto him.
Zach Samuels had just a 1.79 ERA in 55 1/3 inings before he was promoted to Erie in 2011. He struck out 47 in 55 1/3 innings and while his groundball rate didn’t stick when he was at Erie, he did a nice job of keeping that ball down with Lakeland. You also have to be impressed with his 47/10 strikeout to walk ratio.
The SeaWolves had some top notch prospect talent in their midst in 2011. Here were the outliers
Jacob Turner – Don’t let the 3-5 record fool you, Turner had a nice season. He didn’t turn 20 until May yet he still sported a 90/32 strikeout to walk ratio in 113 1/3 innings (he also pitched solid in three starts for Toledo). He finished with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.22 groundball to flyball ratio. Turner could start the season in the Tigers rotation so it’ll be interesting to see if the Tigers pick someone up in free agency and let Turner refine his craft at Toledo or whether he makes the big league club’s rotation.
Casey Crosby – Walks were an issue but Crosby struck out almost a batter an inning (121 strikeouts in 131 2/3 innings) in 25 starts. He turned 23 so he’s still young enough to be considered a prospect and he finished with a 4.10 ERA. He also had a nice campaign in the Arizona Fall League with a 1.32 ERA in eleven relief appearances. The 77 walks concerns me though. Still, he’s also an extreme ground ball pitcher so that helps limit his damage even if he’s putting on baserunners.
Chance Ruffin – Ruffin led the team in saves with 10 and he had a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings for the SeaWolves. Even better, he had a really nice 43/16 strikeout to walk ratio. He struggled in his major league time but he’s only 23 so he should be able to secure a spot in the Tigers pen if he can keep the ball down. He is the opposite of Crosby and he gives up a lot of fly balls. Those turned into home runs (four in 17 2/3 innings) when he was with the Tigers.
It was a rough year for the SeaWolves as they finished near the bottom of the Eastern League East division. There were a few stand outs at the plate though. Let’s take a look…
Justin Henry – The outfielder looks like a solid table setter although there’s not much power there. In 376 at bats, he didn’t hit a single home run but he lead the regulars with an .814 OPS. He has a really nice 52/62 strikeout to walk ratio and that equated to a .410 OBP. He’s past prospectdom (he’ll be 27 in April) but he ‘s having a solid season down in the Venzuelan Winter League so it’ll be interesting where Henry fits in.
Jamie Johnson – Johnson led the team in runs (93) and doubles (33) but like Henry, there’s not a ton of power and Johnson’s OBP was almost as high as his slugging. He’s a little younger but he’s still going to be 25 in April. Time is running short for him so hopefully he can step things up and maybe get a look if he plays well at Toledo next year.
Rawley Bishop – The first baseman led the team in home runs with 10 and RBIs with 67. To call him a masher is a stretch because he had a slugging of just .396 but that was amongst the team’s best. He also led the team in strikeouts in 106.
Pitching wasn’t the Hens strong point. Five pitchers threw more then 100 innings and their ERA’s ranged from 3.13 to 5.65. Here are some highlights.
Andrew Oliver – Oliver had a mixed bag season. He was vaulted over by Jacob Turner as far as spot starts for the Tigers and while he threw 147 innings and struck out 143, he had a rough WHIP of 1.56. His ERA was 4.71 and he walked 80 guys which isn’t going to cut it. The potential is there, he just needs to find some control.
Duane Below – Below ended up with the Tigers for a nice chunk of the season but when he was with the Hens, he was probably their best pitcher. He struck out 83 in 115 innings and he finished with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. His record was 9-4 and that win total was the best on the team.
With all of the back and forth, it’s hard to pick an “Offensive MVP” for the Hens. Still, here were some of the better performances.
Ryan Strieby – Strieby showed some durability this year and he played in 130 games. Nobody else played in more although Strieby’s prospect days appear to be behind him. He had a team high 19 home runs and 76 RBIs and while his OPS was a decent .770, it was nothing to write home about. Even worse, Strieby is effectively blocked and his outfield experiment came to end because he either played first base or DH’ed the entire season.
Will Rhymes – He hit .306 and he was second to Strieby amongst hitters in OPS who played more then 100 games for the Hens. His .390 slugging is a problem though and he showed little to no power and he finished with just 24 RBIs in 405 at bats. So the batting average was there, it was just pretty hollow.
Timo Perez – Speaking of hollow, Timo Perez led the team in hits but he actually had less of an OPS then Rhymes because he walked only 29 times. Perez led the team with 32 doubles and he hit .304.
Toledo Mud Hens – 67-77, 21 games back of the first place Columbus Clippers in the International League West
Erie SeaWolves – 67-75, 13 games back of the first place Harrisburg Senators in the Eastern League Western Division
Lakeland Flying Tigers – 28-40 in the second half, eleven games back of the first place Dunedin Blue Jays in the Florida State League South
West Michigan White Caps – 38-32 in the second half, ten games back of the Dayton Dragons in the Midwest League West
Connecticut Tigers – 39-35, tied for first place in the New York-Penn League
GCL Tigers – 29-31, eight games back of the first place GCL Yankees
Erie lost to Bowie 3-2 in their final game of the season. Jay Voss fell to 9-7 and he gave up just two runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in five innings. The pen then held Bowie to just one run in four innings but unfortunately that run turned out to be the difference.
Rawley Bishop went two for four with a double. Deik Scram went one for three with a walk and a run.
The Hens beat the Clippers in their season finale 3-1. Adam Wilk threw three innings to start the game and he didn’t allow a run. Jose Ortega gave up a run in three innings and he improved to 1-3 while Enrique Gonzalez threw a shutout ninth for his thirteenth save of the season. Gonzalez struck out the side in his one inning of work.
Ryan Strieby went two for four with a home run and three RBIs. Clete Thomas went two for four.
Jared Weason improved to 15-10 on the season with another nice start in the Flying Tigers 3-2 win over. He gave up two runs on eight hits and one walk with six strikeouts in eight innings. Matt Little pitched a shutout ninth and he picked up his sixth save of the season.
Avisail Garcia went one for four with a triple, a run and an RBI. Rob Brantly went one for three with a run and a walk.
The Mud Hens took care of the Bisons 4-0 behind some solid pitching by Shawn Teufel and the Hens bullpen. Teufel improved to 1-0 and he gave up three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in six innings.
Ben Geuz went two for four in the win. Danny Worth drew a walk, drove in a run and scored.
You have to love these seven inning makeup games. Jay Voss threw a three hitter and he improved to 8-6 with seven shutout innings in the SeaWolves 6-0 win over Trenton. He gave up just three hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Jamie Johnson went three for four with a triple and two runs. Audy Ciriaco went two for three with a double and two RBIs.
Brian Flynn improved to 3-1 on the season with a really nice start in the Whitecaps 6-4 win over South Bend. He gave up three runs on six hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in six innings. Michael Torrealba pitched two shutout innings and he picked up his fourth save of the season.
Ryan Hamme drove in four runs and homered in the win. Nick Castellanos went three for five with two doubles, two runs and an RBI.
Drew Smyly won his Erie debut with seven strong innings in the SeaWolves 5-0 win over Akron. He gave up four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Austin Wood struck out three in two shutout innings to close out the game.
Jamie Johnson had a big day at the plate. He went four for five with two RBIs. Audy Ciriaco went two for four with a double, a triple, a run and an RBI.
Jared Wesson had a really nice start in the Flying Tigers 11-0 win over Fort Myers. He gave up just three hits and two walks with four strikeouts in six shutout innings. Cole Nelson also pitched in with two shutout frames.
Tony Plagman had a monster day at the plate. He went four for six with a home run and five RBIs. Brent Wyatt went three for four and he scored four runs.
Andrew Oliver improved to 6-6 on the season with a really nice start in the Hens 2-1 win over the Indians. He gave up four hits but he walked six and struck out eight in six shutout innings. Chance Ruffin struck out four and walked one in 1 2/3 no-hit innings.
Jeff Salazar went one for three with a walk, a solo home run and he scored both Hens runs. Ryan Strieby went two for four with an RBI.
Jacob Turner continued his solid start and he improved to 3-2 with a nice start in the Hens 7-3 win over Akron. He gave up three runs on nine hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings. Luis Marte closed out the game with two innings of shutout relief.
Brandon Douglas went three for four with a solo home run and two runs. Bryan Holaday belted a three run home run.
Brian Flynn improved to 1-0 on the season with a really nice start in the Whitecaps 3-0 win over South Bend. He gave up just three hits and a walk with five strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Nate Newman struck out two in two shutout innings and he picked up his first save.
Jeff Rowland doubled twice in three at bats and he scored a run. Luis Castillo went two for four with two runs.
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