Things haven’t exactly gone the way the Detroit Tigers would like lately. They went a dreadful 2-5 on their recent west coast strip against the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels, including a 4-game sweep in Anaheim. Tigers prospect Buck Farmer made his season debut on Thursday with Kyle Lobstein being placed on the disabled list. Farmer will likely have one more start before Lobstein returns, as well as Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who made a rehab start with the Tigers Triple-A affiliate Toledo Mud Hens on Sunday.
Let’s recap on the rest of the Detroit Tigers’ farm system.
TRIPLE-A: TOLEDO MUD HENS
The big news for the Mud Hens (21-29) happened on Sunday, when JV pitched for the first time in an actual game all season. He was a little bit erratic, throwing just 2.2 IP and allowing three runs on six hits and two walks. It was Justin’s first time in his major league career that he was placed on the disabled list. The important thing is how he feels today and moving forward, and if there was still some zip on his pitches.
Tigers top prospect Steven Moya continues to be the focal point down in Triple-A. He is hitting nearly .300 in his last ten games played (12 for 41), which has his batting average up to .242, with four home runs and 20 runs driven in. The 23-year old, still developing, is hoping to hear his name called sooner rather than later. Mud Hens left fielder Xavier Henry is the only regular player on the roster hitting over .300 on the season.
Buck Farmer was not the only young Tigers minor leaguer to make an appearance this week for Detroit. Fellow Mud Hens starter Kyle Ryan made his season debut on Wednesday in Oakland, after Tigers starter Alfredo Simon was placed on the bereavement list following the passing of his father. Ryan showed up at the stadium just before first pitch, but did not start. Tigers reliever Alex Wilson pitched the first three innings before Ryan came in to pitch the next 3+, giving up just one earned run.
DOUBLE-A: ERIE SEAWOLVES
The Erie SeaWolves (17-30) are now sitting with the worst record in the Eastern League (AA). And when you see some of the numbers from the roster, you’d see they are going through it right now.
No surprise here, SeaWolves center fielder Wynton Bernard continues to flat out rake. He picked up seven more hits in five games played this past week, now hitting .314 on the season. If there’d be one thing to critique about him, I’d say he needs to work on his plate discipline. He has walked just nine times this season, striking out 29 times. Bernard still boasts a solid and respectable .351 OBP, but seeing his K/BB split means it can still improve.
Bernard’s teammate Dean Green also continues to hit the cover off the ball. The 25-year old designated hitter for Erie is hitting .324 in his last ten games, .341 on the 2015 season, and leads the team in home runs and RBI’s.
SINGLE-A ADVANCED: LAKELAND FLYING TIGERS
The Lakeland Flying Tigers (23-26) are sitting a little more comfortably than the two Tigers affiliates ahead of them, thanks in large part to some good pitching numbers.
The Flying Tigers have six pitchers in their bullpen who have made an appearance in game at least five times, pitched at least 9.0 innings, and given up two or fewer earned runs. While that may be a small sample, impressive nonetheless. Those early impressive starts bridge what some of the Lakeland rotation have been doing thus far in 2015. Three of the five starters are currently posting an ERA under 3.5. Pitcher Tommy Collier has a 2.09 ERA in eight starts and 47.1 innings of work.
Flying Tigers second baseman Curt Powell remains Lakeland’s best and most consistent hitter on the season. Powell is hitting .342 in 33 games played this season. Justin Verlander’s brother and Flying Tigers outfielder Ben Verlander has seen his average dip below .240 on the season. He’s hitting just .171 in his last ten games, including 3 for 18 last week.
SINGLE-A: WEST MICHIGAN WHITECAPS
On the contrary, the West Michigan Whitecaps (25-26) are also hanging around in their division of the Midwest League (A), but it is because of their bats.
They continue to get outstanding production from Michael Gerber, Ross Kivett, Joey Pankake, and Zach Shephard. The Whitecaps quartet have combined to drive in 106 of the team’s 180 runs scored. Gerber leads the way with a .362/.427/.500 slash line, four homers, and 33 runs batted in. His .362 BA is good for tops in the entire Midwest League.
The Derek Hill watch continues as always. The talented teenager is now hitting .224 on the season, which is .018 higher than at this point one week ago. He is hitting a shade under .300 in his last ten contests. Hill went 5 for 11 in a recently finished series vs. Fort Wayne, scoring two runs and driving home another.