Detroit Tigers Minor League Baseball Commentary and Analysis
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Kevin Goldstein recently put out his list of who he things the Tigers top eleven prospects are. It’s an interesting list because like last year, you have two top players then a steep drop off. Cameron Maybin checks in at number one for the second straight season and that’s not a surprise. Yeah Maybin fell flat last year once he made it to the bigs but his minor league advancement was very solid. He’s still considered a future star and the Tigers felt good enough about him to trade away Gorkys Hernandez, another top outfield prospect.
The Tigers 2007 first round draft pick, Rick Porcello, checks in at number two and like Maybin, he was given a five star tag. Porcello signed too late to play in the Tiger’s system but he should start out with the White Caps. I doubt if he’ll stay there long and I expect to see some pretty high strikeout numbers while he’s there.
After that, things thin out. Casey Crosby, the Tigers fifth round pick in 2007, is the the third best prospect. Like Porcello, Crosby fell further down because of signability issues and he was a big reason many though the Tigers had one of the best drafts this year.
Cale Iorg and Brandon Hamilton (another first round, 2007 draft pick) round out the top five. Jeff Larish is sixth after a solid season at Double A last year and you also have a pair of pitchers in Yorman Bazardo and Eulogio De La Cruz who made the list despite having stints in the big leagues last year.
The Mud Hens pursuit of their third straight Governor’s Cup came to an abrupt end as they were swept by the Durham Bulls 3-0. Aquilino Lopez gave up three ninth inning runs in his second inning of work in a 5-2 loss. Eulogio De La Cruz had a mixed start. He gave up just two runs on two hits with eight strikeouts but he also walked seven in 5 2/3 innings.
Andres Torres belted a solo homerun in the first inning. David Espinosa went two for three with a triple, a walk and a run.
There were plenty of hitting stars and plenty of offense in the Hens 12-6 win over the Syracuse Chiefs. Henry Mateo, Ryan Rayburn and Jack Hannahan all had three hits and Rayburn and Hannahan each drove in three.
Virgil Vasquez was roughed up but the hitters bailed him out. He gave up six runs in his four innings of work. Eulogio De La Cruz picked up the win with three shutout innings of relief. I still think he should be in a rotation somewhere, but De La Cruz is starting to take to the pen after a rough start after his promotion to Toledo.
Eulogio De La Cruz made his first appearance for the Hens earlier in the week and it didn’t go very well. Today he bounced back and threw two shutout innings of relief to pick up his first win for the Hens this season.
Mike Hessman went one for three with two RBIs. Ryan Rayburn went one for three with a walk and two runs in the 5-2 win.
The Mud Hens were blown out by Buffalo this afternoon 9-3 and Jordan Tata was hit hard. He was tagged for six runs on six hits with two strikeouts in just 2 1/3 innings. Given an assist to Eulogio De La Cruz, who just got promoted from Double A. He walked five batters in just one inning and he allowed a couple of Tata’s runs to score while also allowing three of his own.
Ryan Rayburn hit a two run shot in the first inning. The homerun was his twelth of the year. He’s had a decent season for the Mudhens and while his .284 batting average is only decent, he has an impressive 43/39 strikeout to walk ratio which gives him a .400+ OBP. At one point, he was considered a prospect but he’s now 26 and with Placido Polanco and even Omar Infante in his way, he could see quite a bit of time in the minors. A September callup isn’t out of the question though.
Erie lost 6-3 and all six runs were given up by starter Eulogio De La Cruz. He did it on six hits and a walk and he struck out five in four innings. Still the righthander has 57 strikeouts in 63 innings and he’s only walked 16. This would be the kind of guy who, without the logjam of pitching at the big league level and the fact that the Tigers will probably in a tough race in September, might have gotten some spot starts in the fall. For now, we’ll have to wait to see as he moves up the chain like everyone else.
Steve Torrealba was the hitting star. He went two for four with a double, a homerun and two RBIs.
Erie had a tough time at the plate in their 3-1 loss to Akron. The lone run of the game for the Seawolves came on a solo homer by Jackson Melian. The designated hitter also picked up three of the six hits in the game for the Seawolves.
A decent start by Eulogio de la Cruz was wasted with the lack of offense. He gave up three runs (two earned) on eight hits and a walk with on strikeout.
Erie entered the ninth inning down 1-0 and nobody was probably more upset then Eulogio de la Cruz, who pitched eight great innings. He gave up just one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts.
Fortunately, the Sea Wolves got some timely hitting. Jeff Larish hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra frames, and then in the tenth, Steve Torrealba went yard with a walk off solo homerun to end the game. Danny Zell ended up picking up the win with two perfect innings of relief in which he struck out four batters.
The Seawolves lost 4-2 and while Eulogio de la Cruz didn’t have his best stuff, it wasn’t a horrible start either. He gave up four runs on five hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Jeffrey Larish doubled, scored a run and drew a walk. He was the only Seawolf to reach base twice.
Eulogio De La Cruz took a hard luck loss today as the Seawolves provided him with only two runs of support. He gave up three runs on seven hits and he struck out ten without walking a single batter. The loss drops him to 2-2 on the season.
Erie managed just three hits and Brent Dlugach was the only Seawolf to reach base three times. He singled, walked twice and scored a run.
Jeffrey Larish had a monster game for the Sea Wolves in their 11-6 win over Bowie. He went three for five with a double, a homerun and six RBIs. Michael Holliman continued to hit the ball well and he went one for three with a double, two walks, two RBIs and two runs.
Eulogio De La Cruz pickd up the win and he improved to 2-1. He gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks with two strikeouts in seven innings.
The Sea Wolves not only shot themselves in the foot with five errors in their 5-1 loss to Akron, but they also just couldn’t hit the ball. The lone run came on an RBI single by Brent Dlugach and Matthew Joyce doubled and scored a run. The only other hit was a triple by Jeffrey Larish.
Eulogio de la Cruz took the loss. He gave up four runs on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts in four innings of work.
The SeaWolves blasted Binghamton today 12-4 in a game where just about everyone was a hitting star. Matthew Joyce singled and drove in four runs while Clete Thomas had three hits and three runs in the win.
Eulogio De la Cruz picked up the win despite a lackluster outing. He gave up four runs on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts in five innings of work.
The Tigers number five prospect is Eulogio De la Cruz and he was also across the board amongst the three lists. John Sickels rated him highest at third but he also finished as low as ninth on Kevin Goldstein’s list (you can find the lists on the left sidebar). A seventh place finish with Baseball America put him just one point ahead of Jordan Tata and Brent Clevlen.
De la Cruz was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2001 and he made his minor league debut in 2003 in the Gulf Coast League. He had a solid if erratic showing and he struck out 30 in only 24 1/3 innings before heading to a very short (3 1/3 relief innings) stint at Oneonta. Walks were a problem and he walked 16 in 27 2/3 total minor league innings in 2003. In 2004 he got bumped up to West Michigan where once again he struggled with his walks. He issued 33 free passes versus 44 strikeouts in 54 innings as the Whitecaps closer and he picked up 17 saves along the way.
In 2005, he made some major strides and even got some time in the rotation. At Lakeland, he struck out 97 and only walked 36 in 95 2/3 innings. He got into one game in at Erie but he was pummelled and once again reverted to his walking ways (four walks in 1 2/3 innings). In 2006 he debuted at Erie and regressed just a bit. His strikeout rate went down and his walk rate went up but he was solid enough to warrant getting into one game at Toledo, where like his other short stints, he got shelled.
De la Cruz is an interesting prospect though because he’s moved up the minor league ladder very methodically. He should start the season at Toledo this year and if he pans out, you could see him in the Tigers pen next year. Also keep in mind he doesn’t turn 23 until March 12 and the kid can touch 100 mph on the gun so at best he could be the second coming of Joel Zumaya and at worst he’s probably going to be a 12th or 13th pitcher on the team who sees time only when someone else goes down. Once again, I kind of wish he were a left hander because if he were, you’d be hearing more about him.
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