Major League Baseball has reached the All-Star break but every team’s respective minor league clubs are still trekking on. This includes the Detroit Tigers and their crop of prospects down in the bushes.
We have reached the halfway point in July and we have a lot to cover, including some noteworthy promotions from key prospects as well as our first update from the 2018 draft class.
JACOB ROBSON – OF, Toledo (No. 26)
- LAST 10 GAMES: .429 BA (18 for 42), HR, 7 RBI, 11 R
- SEASON STATS: .312/.402/.495 in 81 games at AA/AAA, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 14 SB
Talk about taking full advantage of an opportunity. Jacob Robson did just that when he was called up to Triple-A following the minor injury to Christin Stewart. All Robson has done is just rake all over the yard. He has multiple hits in nine of his 14 games played with the Mud Hens. The 23-year-old and former eighth-round pick out of Mississippi State has been a hitting machine since the Tigers drafted him in 2016. This is just Robson’s third professional season, all of which he has earned a mid-season call-up, and he has a career .304 average and .818 OPS in roughly 250 games played, all while seeing time at all three outfield spots.
KODY CLEMENS – 2B, West Michigan
- LAST 10 GAMES: .294 BA (10 for 34), 3 RBI, 6 BB, 2 SB
- SEASON STATS: .264/.365/.415 (14 for 53) in 14 games at WM, 4 XBH, 6 RBI
It is a very small sample size in his first run at pro ball but there is a lot to like with Kody Clemens from a hitting standpoint. An explosive junior campaign at Texas spurned him into a second-round pick for the Tigers this season, projecting out as a very solid hitter that is likely to stay anchored at second base. The son of longtime pitcher Roger Clemens, much like daddy did, plays with a little extra edge and intensity. If the power he garnered this past season at UT-Austin can translate to the minors, the Tigers may have nabbed themselves a second baseman for the future.
PAUL VOELKER – RP, Toledo
- LAST 4 GAMES: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 K, 0 BB
- SEASON STATS: 2.68 ERA (14 ER in 47 IP), 40 K, 18 BB, .168 opp. BA
Paul Voelker continues to enjoy his first full season at the Triple-A level after having a cup of coffee in Toledo at the tail end of the 2017 season. The 25-year-old has been an innings-eater for the Mud Hens this season, his 47 innings of work are sixth on the team and second among primary relievers behind only the recently-graduated Victor Alcantara. A former 10th-round pick in 2014, Voelker has been very effective in what is now his fifth season, logging a career 2.75 ERA in 172 appearances, all but one of which is out of the bullpen. The Dallas Baptist product continues to make a bid for a call-up to the majors.
DYLAN ROSA – OF, West Michigan
- LAST 8 GAMES: .100 BA (3 for 30), RBI, 2 R, BB, 16 K
- SEASON STATS: .195/.296/.331 in 73 games with WM, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 33.8% K-Rate
It has been a struggle for Dylan Rosa. In just his second season of professional baseball — first full season — the Kent State product finds himself stuck on the interstate in the middle of July. Rosa this season has been predominantly a “true outcome” hitter, with more than 48 percent of his plate appearances ending in a strikeout, base on balls, or a home run… think of a poor man’s Joey Gallo for the Rangers.
What also could hurt Rosa both immediately and long-term is, with the Whitecaps’ roster constantly in flux due to the Tigers’ newest draft picks joining the team, he could be surrendering playing time in the field as an outfielder, reducing him to mostly DH duties and putting more onus on him to hit more consistently.
TYLER ALEXANDER – SP, Toledo (No. 18)
- LAST 2 STARTS: 5.73 ERA (7 ER in 11 IP), 12 H, 2 BB, 8 K
- SEASON STATS: 5-5, 4.55 ERA in 17 starts at AA/AAA, 1.58 WHIP, 16 BB, 64 K, .337 opp. BA
Lefty Tyler Alexander is still having some difficulties adjusting to the Triple-A level. The 24-year-old made his debut back on June 2 and was shelled for six runs over five innings. He has been marginally better over the next seven starts but his ERA in eight starts with the Mud Hens is nearly two who runs higher than his first nine outings at Double-A Erie. He’s not giving up nearly as many homers in Toledo but the opponent BABIP is just a notch under .400. He has the makings to be one of those “crafty lefty” prospects for the Tigers but needs to gather some consistency at Triple-A first.
A.J. LADWIG – SP, Erie
- LAST 3 STARTS: 6.28 ERA (10 ER in 14.1 IP), 18 H, 4 BB, 13 K
- SEASON STATS: 5-4, 6.41 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .310 opp. BA, 5.49 FIP
A recent demotion back down to Double-A Erie pretty much sums up the season for A.J. Ladwig. The 25-year-old posted a career-worst 6.39 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) for Toledo and made his first start for the SeaWolves just this past Friday. The long ball has been Ladwig’s biggest problem in 2018. The 1.9 HR/9 is by far the worst mark of his five-year career. What makes it more frustrating is that Ladwig has a rock solid 2.43 after his first six outings this season and it has been a steady downhill climb ever since. Now he is left to figure it out again at Erie.
OTHER NOTABLE NEWS
- Ladwig, along with infielder Kody Eaves, was optioned back to Double-A in favor of a pair of hot hands for the Tigers. Prospects Kyle Funkhouser (No. 7) and Matt Hall (No. 23) earned the call-up last week after some dominant runs at Erie. Funkhouser compiled a 3.74 ERA in 17 starts for the SeaWolves and makes his first Triple-A start on Monday. Meanwhile, Hall made his Mud Hens debut on Sunday, allowing two runs over 5.1 innings.
- On the injury front, two more prospects for the Tigers returned to play. Outfielder Christin Stewart (No. 5) returned to the Mud Hens this past weekend after a brief three-game rehab stint down in the Gulf Coast League, clubbing a grand slam on Sunday. Also, the team’s top prospect Franklin Perez is back in action and pitching down in Lakeland. Detroit is easing him back into action after missing the first three months of the year. Perez has not gone deeper than three innings in any of his five appearances this far (three of which were rehab down in the GCL).