With two weeks remaining in the minor league season, and five weeks left in the majors, the Detroit Tigers need to start their push towards the postseason. Despite the struggles and inability to string off a handful of wins, Detroit remains in the thick of the American League Wild Card hunt. There are five teams in front of the Tigers within just 2.5 games.
Also, the Tigers are just a game out of last place in the AL Central, after losing the final three games to the Texas Rangers, while the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians won their respective series this past weekend. The rest of the regular season should be interesting. Which September call-ups will make an impact for their team’s playoff push?
TRIPLE-A: TOLEDO MUD HENS
A lot has happened for the Toledo Mud Hens in the last few weeks.
Starting pitcher Shane Greene has been put on the shelf, likely for the rest of the season, with an artery issue in his throwing arm, causing an aneurysm in his pitching hand. He is scheduled to visit a vascular surgeon on Tuesday for further diagnosis.
The Tigers granted first baseman Marc Krauss his unconditional release on Saturday. Krauss was signed after Miguel Cabrera was injured back in early July, and hit just .152 for the Tigers. He was demoted after corner infielder Jefry Marte was called up and played exceptional for Detroit, and was cut after the Tigers acquired veteran left-handed pitcher Randy Wolf from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Starting pitcher Kyle Lobstein is getting closer to a return to the Tigers. His last four starts have been made in Toledo. The Tigers could really use Lobstein, after losing Daniel Norris and Anibal Sanchez to injuries and other pitchers like Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan having struggled lately when they appear in games.
Pitcher Luis Cessa has struggled since being acquired from the New York Mets in the Yoenis Cespedes trade. Cessa in four starts is 1-1 with a 7.17 ERA.
DOUBLE-A: ERIE SEAWOLVES
Unlike Toledo, the Erie SeaWolves are getting some production from both the household names and the new guys.
Shortstop JaCoby Jones, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a trade for Joakim Soria, has a .276/.366/.566 slash line in 21 games for Erie, with 6 home runs and 17 runs batted in. The strikeouts are piling up with Jones however, fanning 27 times in those 21 games, including at least twice in six of his last ten contests.
First baseman Dominic Ficociello has performed very well since being promoted to Erie from Lakeland (A-Adv). In his 28 games for the SeaWolves, Ficociello is hitting a cool .337 batting average. 14 of his 35 hits are for extra bases, driving in 22 so far for Erie.
Starting pitcher Michael Fulmer continues to be the most impressive in the entire farm system for the Tigers. In his four starts since coming over from the Mets, Fulmer is 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA. Opponents are hitting under .200 against him since putting on the SeaWolves uniform. In his 20 minor league starts in 2015, Fulmer is 9-3 with an ERA a shade under 2.00, and is making a strong case to be called up in September.
One of the most consistent players all season long in the Tigers’ farm system has been Erie’s center fielder Wynton Bernard. Bernard has his average back up to .293, and is hitting at a .391 clip in his last ten games. He’s riding an eight game hitting streak, going 18 for 37 during that span, and has only struck out once. This is the second consecutive stellar season put together by Wynton and like Fulmer, he too is making a legitimate case to climb through the system and join the Tigers for September.
SINGLE-A ADVANCED: LAKELAND FLYING TIGERS
With the graduation of Dominic Ficociello to Double-A, the Lakeland Flying Tigers need guys to make up for his production this season.
Second baseman Curt Powell is doing just that, hitting .316 on the season in 68 games for Lakeland. Powell has performed better since being demoted from Double-A, as he continues to climb his way back up through the system. He’s getting on base over 40% of the time for the Flying Tigers this season.
Starting pitcher Kevin Ziomek has been one of Lakeland’s better pitchers lately. He has an ERA under 3.00 in his last ten outings, striking out 53 batters in 58.0 innings of work in those ten starts. He now sits at 7-10 with an ERA of 3.70 on the season.
Pitcher Brennan Smith has done both start and relieve for Lakeland as well as Erie this season. He’s been a starter since the beginning of July, and has pitched fairly well. He’s produced a quality start in six of his last ten starts, and currently has an ERA under 3.00.
Jairo Labourt has not pitched particularly well since being acquired in the David Price trade. He’s 0-4 with an 7.50 ERA in five starts since coming over from Toronto.
SINGLE-A: WEST MICHIGAN WHITECAPS
With Tigers top prospect Derek Hill still on the shelf and underperforming, the West Michigan Whitecaps are also looking for production elsewhere in the lineup.
Right fielder Michael Gerber has been one of West Michigan’s best hitters all season long, but has recently hit the skids. He’s ice cold, hitting .150 in his last ten games, with a K:BB of 3:1 and a K:H of 2:1 during that span.
Catcher Kade Scivicque has been a pleasant surprise lately for the Whitecaps. In just 32 games, Scivicque is hitting .290 with 4 long balls and 16 runs driven in.
Spencer Turnbull and Jeff Thompson have been two of the better pitchers for West Michigan as of late. The former Turnbull is 6-1 with a 3.44 ERA in his last ten games, while the latter Thompson has seen his ERA drop from 5.76 to 3.80 in the last two months, not allowing an earned run in three of his last four starts.