With the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft just right around the corner, the Detroit Tigers will soon be welcoming a new wave of prospects to their minor league system. Such additions could lead to some roster changes, mostly at the lower levels, however.
We are now roughly two full months into the minor league regular season and it is that time once again, time to see who is trending up and who is trending down as we flip the calendar to June.
RONNY RODRIGUEZ | UTIL, TOLEDO
- LAST 10 GAMES: 15 for 41 (.366 BA), 3 R, 7 RBI
- SEASON STATS: .302 BA, .811 OPS, 6 HR, 30 RBI
Ronny Rodriguez has been the hottest hitter in the Tigers’ system, really over the last month or so. The former Cleveland Indians farmhand recently had an 18-game hitting streak snapped back on May 24 but followed that up with a four-hit performance the next day to jump-start a new hitting streak that currently sits at five. Rodriguez has been the Mud Hens’ resident utility man, mostly playing shortstop and third base but has made spot appearances in center field and second base as well.
And just prior to Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, the Tigers announced that they would be adding Rodriguez to the 40-man roster and promote him to the big league club. He went 5-for-6, with two home runs and hitting for the cycle in his last game for the Mud Hens prior to the call-up.
DEREK HILL | OF, LAKELAND (No. 13)
- LAST 8 GAMES: 7 for 15 (.467 BA), HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB
- SEASON STATS: .214 BA, .620 OPS, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 11 SB
First things first, we are highlighting only the last six games for Derek Hill because they are his first eight games after being on the disabled list and missing roughly three weeks. Prior to his DL stint, he was hitting just .170 overall but going 8 for 22 since then appears to have him going in the right direction. Tigers fans have been hearing for some time now of the potential Hill has. His defense seems to never be a concern, it is whether he can hit enough. That is actually when he is on the field. Still only 22 years old, the former Tigers’ top pick in 2014 has averaged just 68 games played in each of his last three seasons playing full-year minor league baseball, which is just a shade under half of the season. Hopefully, there are no more DL stints this year for Hill.
MATT MANNING | SP, WEST MICHIGAN (No. 2)
- LAST 3 STARTS: 0-1, 2.57 ERA (4 ER in 14 IP), 22 K, 8 BB
- SEASON STATS: 7 GS – 1-2, 3.82 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .209 opp. BA
By and large, Matt Manning has been solid after starting the season on the DL. The 20-year-old has definitely had swing-and-miss stuff, punching out eight or more hitters in three of his last four times out. Albeit a bit skewed, there is a noticeable home/road split difference with Manning. Only two of his seven starts have come at home and he has not allowed a run in 12 innings of work over those two starts, issuing one walk in each. On the road, however, Manning has allowed 3+ walks in each of his five times away from Comstock Park. He has had anywhere between 6-7 days off in between starts and he last pitched on May 28, so he’ll toe the slab next on either June 3 or 4.
PHILLIPPE AUMONT | RP, TOLEDO
- LAST 5 GAMES: 0-1, 13.50 ERA (7 ER in 4.2 IP), 4 K, 6 BB
- SEASON STATS: 15 GMs – 1-1, 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .224 opp. BA
Apologies to Phillippe Aumont, who we may or may not have jinxed in recent weeks. The 29-year-old Quebec-native was highlighted in our mid-may report of the Tigers’ farm system for his under-reported work out of the bullpen to start the season. Lately, however, he has hit a bit of a rough patch. Aumont has allowed just 33 baserunners (hits, walks, hit batsmen) in his 24 innings logged this year, more than half of those have come in just the last five games alone. Again, best to just chalk it up as a rough patch, for now, considering how effective he was early on.
GERSON MORENO | RP, ERIE (No. 27)
- LAST 4 GAMES: 6.75 ERA (4 ER in 5.1 IP), 2 HR, 12 K, 6 BB
- SEASON STATS: 14 GMs – 5.29 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, .266 opp. BA
It’s been a struggle for Gerson Moreno. The 22-year-old native of the Dominican Republic has yet to find any semblance of consistent success at the Double-A level. Since joining the Erie SeaWolves midway through last season, Moreno has an ERA of exactly 6.00 in now 34 appearances. This is an arm with potential, having earned minor league All-Star honors each of the last two seasons. Two years ago, he struggled early on with Lakeland after dominating with West Michigan. Last year, he figured out the High-A level before the promotion to Erie.
In some recent organizational news, the team has decided to give Moreno his unconditional release and he will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament.
SPENCER TURNBULL | SP, ERIE
- LAST 3 STARTS: 0-2, 6.56 ERA (11 ER in 15.1 IP), 15 K, 9 BB
- SEASON STATS: 9 GS – 2-5, 4.83 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .271 opp. BA
Side Note: The 6.56 ERA in his last three starts is down from 10.76 after going 5.2 scoreless frames his last time out on May 30.
Like Gerson Moreno, Spencer Turnbull has had difficulties adjusting to the Double-A competition since arriving in Erie late last season. Combining his four starts with the SeaWolves in 2017, Turnbull has registered a 5.22 ERA in the Eastern League (14 starts). His two recent rocky starts come at an unfortunate time, he had turned in three quality starts prior — including consecutive scoreless outings. Of more importance, the return of Tigers’ top prospect Franklin Perez is drawing near, which could lead to a more reduced role (at worst) for Turnbull.
OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES
- West Michigan first baseman Reynaldo Rivera (No. 21) is enjoying his first full season of minor league baseball with the Whitecaps. He started later than everyone else but in 31 games, the Tigers’ second-round selection in 2018 is slashing .283/.365/.500, including a .333 clip in his last 10 games. His .865 OPS is more than .300 points higher than his mark down in short-season Class-A Connecticut last season. Rivera is going to have more chances to validate the early success as he gets the lion’s share of playing time at first base for the ‘Caps.
- Also across the state in Comstock Park, starter Elvin Rodriguez has really done impressive work as of late. Over his last three starts, Rodriguez has allowed just two earned runs in 18.1 innings pitched (0.98 ERA). This comes after he posted an ERA approaching 7.00 in his first five starts of 2018. For those who may have forgotten, Rodriguez was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels last September as the “player to be named later” in the Justin Upton trade a month prior. This is his fourth minor league season, first full-year.
- We talked about Lakeland outfielder Daz Cameron (No. 9) at the end of April for swinging a pretty hot bat. He continued that trend into May and had another late-month surge. Even with just one knock in his last 12 ABs, Cameron in his last 10 games is hitting .316 (14 for 38) with five multi-hit games, including his second career two-homer game and first of this season. Due to some recent Flying Tigers graduating to Double-A, the Tigers’ highest-ranked player among outfield prospects, second among all position players, now currently leads Lakeland with a .287 batting average.