Down on the Farm: Tigers minor league update

Since our last minor league update within the Detroit Tigers organization, we have seen some noteworthy promotions and demotions with certain players. We also looked at how the Low Class-A affiliate West Michigan Whitecaps are following up from their 2015 Midwest League (A) championship with a strong 2016 campaign thus far, already having clinched a spot for the postseason.

Let’s see how they are doing over the last week and change, because they held their All-Star break the same time during Major League Baseball, as well as the aforementioned roster moves to keep an eye out for.


Toledo Mud Hens

The biggest roster move that has taken place within the organization since the second half got underway was Detroit making a switch in the outfield, recalling Tyler Collins and demoting Steven Moya back to the Mud Hens. Collins was prior to the first series post-All-Star break because of Justin Upton being place on the bereavement list. However, when Upton returned, they opted to keep Collins over Moya.

Moya held his own by and large when starting in the outfield in the month plus he was part of the Tigers. But very suspect defense in right field compounded with a slump at the dish in the month of July made the decision for the Tigers an easier one. However since his demotion, he’s picked up right where he left off with his Triple-A numbers. Since being optioned, he’s gone 10-for-33 with a home run and four RBI.

One guy who has been clobbering the baseball since the second half began is infielder Dean Green. Over his last seven, Green is hitting a cool .500 (13×26) with a couple bombs and nine RBI. On the season in time with both Toledo and Double-A Erie, he is hitting .293 in 96 games played, 69 of those coming with the SeaWolves.

Also, if you have been following the Hens over the last couple days, you may have noticed both Daniel Norris and Jordan Zimmermann are with the club rehabbing. Norris has had one solid outing and one not-so-solid. Combined, he’s allowed 6 ER (5 in one start) over 8.2 IP, striking out seven. Zimmermann in his lose rehab outing thus far: four scoreless frames, four hits allowed and two strikeouts.


Erie SeaWolves

The other notable roster move took place in Erie, when the Tigers had to demote outfielder Anthony Gose from the Triple-A. It came after a blow-up with manager Lloyd McClendon, but really it was because of his dismal stint with the Hens. However, it seems that even with the demotion, Gose has not only continued to hurt his value.

In nine games played with the SeaWolves, Gose is just 3-for-34, which registers to a 0.88 batting average. If there was any way to find the good in those numbers, his K:BB ratio is close to 1.00 (7 BB, 11 K). But all in all, Gose has put together a dreadful and miserable 2016 campaign.

Let’s focus on the good though. Outfielder Mike Gerber, the 2015 Tigers Minor Leaguer Player of the Year, was recently promoted from High Class-A Lakeland up to Erie. He’s played in just three games so far and off to a modest 4-for-13 start at the dish, driving in three runs. Gerber hit .282/.343/.481 with 14 HR in 90 games with the Flying Tigers prior to the call-up.

Another guy who has found his groove since a noteworthy roster change is Wynton Bernard. He’s hit .290 with Erie since being sent back down from Toledo, currently riding a seven-game hitting streak and in eight of his last nine (.342 over that stretch).

And on the pitching front, even though pitching prospect Joe Jimenez has come back down to Earth after his impressive scoreless streak to start the season, he’s still putting together impressive numbers. He has recorded saves and scoreless innings in four of his last five, the lone outlier being 0.2 innings of work where he was ambushed for two ER.

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Lakeland Flying Tigers

Now with the promotion of Mike Gerber to Double-A, other players will need to step up and replace the 14 homers and 60 RBI he recorded in the 90 games he’s played.

One guy who has not skipped a beat is prospect Christin Stewart. The Florida State League leader in home runs (21) is hitting at a .378 clip over his last ten games. Only one home run during that stretch but he drove in 13 runs, giving him a tie for the league lead with Gerber at 60. Stewart is one of three Flying Tigers in the top-4 for home runs in the FSL. Gerber’s 14 are second and Joey Pankake (.222/.294/.388) has 15 on the season, sole possession of 2nd place.

One guy who has been steady all season and could be a candidate for an uptick in numbers is first baseman Wade Hinkle. Wade is hitting .275 on the season, .270 over the last ten games. He’s also not one prone to striking out all that often, he’s fanned just 76 times in 85 games played this season for Lakeland.

On the bump, some pitchers have stood out above the rest. Starter Tyler Alexander turned in a quality start (3 ER over 6 IP) his last time out on the heels of five scoreless innings two turns ago. Recent call-up Matt Hall has been steady as well, allowing 3 ER over his last 10.1 innings logged. And big man Jeff Thompson has yielded just three ER over 17.2 IP in his last three times out.


West Michigan Whitecaps

The Whitecaps are just 13-14 in the second half of the Midwest League season and 4-6-1 in their last eleven. But with a playoff spot already clinched and roughly a month of regular season ball left, they can shift priorities to getting every healthy and finding a nice gel both offensively and defensively.

A couple guys who haven’t missed a stride are first baseman Will Maddox and outfielder Rashad Brown. Maddox is hitting a cool .457 (21×46) over his last ten games with ten RBI and only five punch outs. Brown meanwhile is hitting .405 since our last minor league recap (July 11), with six runs scored and three stolen bases.

As for 20-year-old outfielder prospect Derek Hill, he’s hitting .240 over his last ten games played, but is taking advantage of his opportunities on the base paths, scoring six times as well and swiping six bags.

Pitcher Kyle Dowdy is coming off a complete game shutout on Sunday when he allowed just five hits and one walk. With Hall gone, Dowdy has appeared to fill his spot very well, posting a 2.62 ERA this season for West Michigan.

And a pair of under-the-radar relievers worth mentioning are Ryan Milton and Yordy Cabrera. Milton, a 23-round draft pick of the Tigers in 2015, has a 1.33 ERA in 14 games this season and is riding a 14.1 consecutive scoreless inning streak dating back to June 27. Cabrera meanwhile was promoted to West Michigan from the Connecticut Tigers (Low A short season) after allowing just one ER over 8.2 IP. In his four appearances with the ‘Caps, he’s allowed 3 ER over 7.2 IP.

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