The Detroit Tigers had a rough week this week. They lost two games out of three each against two division rivals, including at home against the 1st place Kansas City Royals. Tigers prospect Kyle Lobstein continues to pitch very well in the void left by Justin Verlander. Normally a starter for the Toledo Mud Hens down in Triple-A, Lobstein is 3-2 with an ERA of 3.00 in five starts for the Tigers this season. Let’s see how his teammates down in Toledo as well as the rest of the farm system has fared this past week.
TRIPLE-A: TOLEDO MUD HENS
The big story line for the now last place Toledo Mud Hens (11-19) continues to be the possible emergence of any of the top rated prospects in the system for the Tigers.
Mud Hens right fielder Steven Moya has struggled to get anything going since coming off the disabled list a few weeks ago. In 16 games, Moya is hitting just .169, and has yet to hit one over the wall this season for Toledo. He is considered by many to be the top prospect in the entire farm system for Detroit, but will have no chance of being called up if he cannot produce.
Mud Hens starter Buck Farmer continues to pitch exceptional in his first full season with Toledo. Farmer (3-1, 3.94 ERA) was named Toledo’s “Pitcher of the Month” for the month of April. The “Player of the Month” honors went to center fielder Daniel Fields, who hit .344 in the month of April. The way Farmer and Fields are playing, if an injury were to occur, they would have to be the early leaders in the Toledo clubhouse with the highest chance of being called up.
Player of the week for Toledo has to be third baseman Corey Jones. Jones has played just five games for the Hens after being promoted from Double-A Erie. He is 6-for-16 in his first few contests in a Mud Hens uniform.
DOUBLE-A: ERIE SEAWOLVES
The pitching has been less than average with the Erie SeaWolves (10-19) so far this season, but the most noteworthy names on the roster are making some noise down in Erie, PA.
SeaWolves center fielder Wynton Bernard continues to swing a hot bat, and is currently riding an 18-game hitting streak. The streak started back on April 19th, where Bernard’s average was just .209. Since then, he has seen his average climb to .291. Bernard also leads the team in stolen bases by a wide margin, with 10. He also leads the SeaWolves in total bases, hits, and is tied for the lead in runs scored.
The Mud Hens sent left fielder Jason Krizan down to Double-A in the past week due to a poor bat. In 20 games with Toledo, he was hitting just a .169 batting average. He is hitting 10-for-34 in 7 games played so far for Erie.
SeaWolves designated hitter Dean Green continues to be the go-to guy for run production. After a month of play, Green still leads to club with a .351 batting average and three home runs on the season, and is second on the team in runs batted in with 12.
SINGLE-A ADVANCED: LAKELAND FLYING TIGERS
The Lakeland Flying Tigers (13-17) are struggling nearly as much in the standings as the two higher affiliates are in the system, but there is some good pitching and hitting being displayed down in Tiger Town.
Second baseman Curt Powell and first baseman Dominic Ficociello lead the team in batting average, with .309 and .307 averages respectively. Justin Verlander’s younger brother Ben Verlander continues to give coaches a reason to keep playing him everday. Hitting .284 on the season, Verlander has reached base safely in eight of his last ten games for the Flying Tigers, solidifying that left field position.
The records of each starter would give the impression that they are the reason for Lakeland’s lack of success early on in the season, but that is not the case. Two of their five starters have a sub-3 ERA, including Tommy Collier, who is boasting a 1.82 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 34 2/3 innings pitched this season.
SINGLE-A: WEST MICHIGAN WHITECAPS
The West Michigan Whitecaps (14-17) have the other big story line in the Tigers farm system when it comes to high expectations from their top rated prospects.
Whitecaps center fielder Derek Hill was hitting around .250 or so back towards the end of April after coming off the 7-day concussion disabled list. Now, he finds himself hitting .182 through 18 games this season. He has not gotten an extra base hit since May 2nd, and is in a brutal 7-game stretch right now (2-for-27, 11 K, 3 BB).
Right fielder Michael Gerber continues to be the hot hand for West Michigan. Gerber is hitting .368 on the season in 31 games played, and has reached base safely in his last 19 games. Shortstop Will Kengor is the other hot hand and coming onto the scene for the Whitecaps. In just nine games played, Kangor is hitting .333 and has reached base safely in eight of those nine games.
The Whitecaps starting rotation has some very respectable secondary numbers that should not be overlooked. Four of the five are posting an ERA under 4.00, including Ross Seaton, who is 4-1 with a 2.76 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP.