The Detroit Tigers not only ended their horrendous 8-game losing streak, but also have won back-to-back games, taking the series on the road over the weekend against the Chicago White Sox.
In that series, Tigers starter and prospect Kyle Ryan started vs. Chicago in the first game of the series. He pitched seven impressive innings, giving up only two earned runs on three hits and striking out four White Sox batters. Ryan was credited with a no-decision however, as Detroit could not maintain the lead for him, and eventually lost the game in extra innings.
Earlier in the week, Daniel Fields was called up from the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens to make his major league debut against the Oakland Athletics. Fields picked up his first big league hit, a double in the 9th inning in the final game of the series. He was sent back down to Toledo immediately after the game ended.
What else has happened in the past week in the Tigers’ farm system?
TRIPLE-A: TOLEDO MUD HENS
The Toledo Mud Hens’ (25-32) was buzzing all week with Tigers pitchers Justin Verlander and Bruce Rondon making rehab stints down in Triple-A.
JV started this past Saturday for the Hens against the Columbus Clippers. He threw 5.2 innings, giving up just one (unearned) run on four hits, striking out nine. The Tigers ace looked great and said he feels good and ready to go. If everything falls accordingly, Verlander will make his next start with the Tigers in the upcoming weekend series vs. the Cleveland Indians.
Bruce Rondon did not fare so well in his outing. He came in after Verlander departed in the 6th, and would get rocked. In just one inning of work, Rondon was tagged for four earned runs on four hits and walked three batters. According to Mud Hens pitching coach and former Tigers pitcher Mike Maroth, Rondon was very frustrated with himself, and that he pitched worse than his line would indicate. So while JV is slated to return to the big league club this upcoming weekend, Rondon will have to wait.
Tigers top prospect Steven Moya collected four more hits this week and is now hitting .234 on the season with four home runs and 22 runs driven in. Mud Hens shortstop Dixon Machado who made his major league debut two weeks ago for Detroit, is hitting almost .360 in his last ten games, and is now hitting .294 on the season.
DOUBLE-A: ERIE SEAWOLVES
The Erie SeaWolves (19-34) continue to struggle, but get consistent production from their key guys in the lineup.
Center fielder Wynton Bernard has cooled off a bit since his red hot hitting in late April and May, but is still hitting at a very respectable and dangerous .312 clip. He went 7-for-24 this week, driving in one run and only fanning twice.
On the part of pitching for Erie, their four main starters have struggled to gain any traction and are a legitimate reason why the SeaWolves are where they are at currently in the standings. There has been one bright moment. Pitcher Tommy Collier, who started with Lakeland to begin the 2015 season, joined Erie on May 26th. He has since made three starts since, including two this past week. In those three starts, Collier is 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in 20.2 IP, giving up just four total runs.
Now that it is June in the baseball season and the 2015 MLB Draft on Monday, it’ll be sooner rather than later to figure out what to do with players like Bernard and Collier, if they continue to play the way they have been, they both could find their way up one more league, or perhaps be trade bait for the Tigers.
SINGLE-A ADVANCED: LAKELAND FLYING TIGERS
The Lakeland Flying Tigers (27-28) may have seen one of their better pitchers get bumped up to AA ball, but they might have found his replacement in the rotation.
Pitcher Matt Crouse has made three starts for Lakeland since Tommy Collier was promoted to Erie. He is 2-0 in those three starts, giving up just three total earned runs. Crouse is 2-1 on the season now for the Flying Tigers pitching in 10 games, and his prior appearances out of the bullpen earned him a spot in the rotation.
Lakeland first baseman Dominic Ficociello is hitting the cover off the ball lately. He is hitting .305 in his last ten contests, and is riding a current 3-game multi-hit streak.
SINGLE-A: WEST MICHIGAN WHITECAPS
The West Michigan Whitecaps might have the one of the best lineups in the Midwest League (A).
Right fielder Michael Gerber is hitting .349 on the season for West Michigan, which is not only good for best on the team, but best in the entire league. The 22-year old actually saw his average dip to that .349 spot after going hitless in his last three games this past week, he was hitting as high as .372 before. The 15th round pick for the Tigers in the 2014 Draft has been an offensive juggernaut for the Whitecaps all season long.
Gerber’s teammate and third baseman Zach Shephard is stride for stride with him when it comes to driving in runs. The duo have combined for eight homers and 69 RBI’s on the season for West Michigan.
Detroit Tigers 19-year old prospect Derek Hill continues to show signs of slow and sure development in his game. He recorded at least one hit in five out of the six games this past week, including two multi-hit games. He is hitting .300 in his last games with three runs driven in and six stolen bases.