The Detroit Tigers Minor League affiliates seasons are now officially in the books. With another season completed, the time has come for me to announce the 2011 MCB Down on the Farm All-Star Team.
In an effort to reward less talked about prospects, only players that did not receive a call-up to Detroit this season were eligible. While you may recognize some of the names, remember these awards aren’t a pronouncement of the Tigers top prospects. The awards were based heavily upon the best overall statistical season per position.
Similar to previous years, the breakdown of the roster will consist of one player per position, a designated hitter, five starting pitchers and five relievers.
2011 MCB Down on the Farm All-Star Team: SS Gustavo Nunez
TEAMS: Advanced-A Lakeland Flying Tigers & AA-Erie SeaWolves
COMBINED STATS: 381 AB, .276/.333/.386/.718
13 doubles, 7 triples, 5 home runs, 26 RBI 30 BB and 67 SO
Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Gustavo Nunez was signed as a non-drafted free agent in May of 2007. Nunez made his debut in the Detroit Tigers farm system back in 2008. That season he split 58 games between the Gulf Coast League and Advanced-A Lakeland. The following season Nunez had a breakout season in Low-A West Michigan. As a whitecap that season, Nunez hit .315 with five homers, 10 triples, 45 stolen bases and 40 RBI. The 5’10, slick fielding switch hitter not only impressed scouts, GM Dave Dombrowski proclaimed Nunez “the shortstop of the future” following his impressive 2009 campaign. Nunez took a bit of a step back his 2010 season as he struggled with the Advanced-A Lakeland Flying Tigers. His less than stellar line of .222/.263/.281 had me concerned that Nunez was just another Cale Iorg.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS:
2011 was a bit of a tale of two seasons for Nunez. He started the season on fire and never really cooled off in the FSL either. He batted .304 in 62 games for the Advanced-A Lakeland Flying Tigers earning him a mid-season All-Star nod. Shortly there after he earned a promotion to AA-Erie. Unfortunately, Nunez stumbled a bit against AA pitching hitting just .215 in 34 games. The 23-year-old has a history of struggling a bit when first exposed to a new league. I guess I wasn’t to alarmed though because he also has a track record for figuring things out and pushing forward. We’re not exactly talking about a 27-year-old who beat up on FSL pitching and fell on his face once promoted. He was one of the younger guys on the Seawolves in 2011 and he won’t be old for AA next season either.
Beyond the statistics his biggest asset remains his glove. If nothing else, Nunez should have a future in the bigs as a utility infielder. In a nutshell Nunez remains an interesting prospect in a farm system that has minimal depth at the shortstop position. He has soft hands, and exceptional footwork that naturally help him on the field. His speed is solid but his base running ability overall could improve a bit. Perhaps thats why we’ve witnessed such a sharp decline in steals from him over the years.
Looking forward, Nunez definitely needs to improve his walk and strikeout ratios. Don’t they all though? The strikeouts aren’t exactly through the roof but the walks continue to concern me. It’s not as if he hacks at everything he sees in the box. Nunez just needs to simply find a way to get on the base-paths more often to provide a bit more value.
I believe he will start the 2012 campaign in AA-Erie. The tools are present, reaching his potential is ultimately in the hands of Nunez and the coaches around him though. Perhaps only time will tell what the future has in store for Gustavo Nunez. Regardless, he was hands down the Tigers best Minor League shortstop last season.
Next Up: 2B
2011 MCB Down on the Farm All-Stars