Detroit Tigers baseball is now over in 2011, after the ALCS series loss to the Texas Rangers on Saturday night. However, that doesn’t mean there still isn’t baseball being played, and there is a number of Detroit Tigers minor leaguers playing in the Arizona Fall League.
For those that aren’t familiar with the Arizona Fall League, it is a collection of prospects from baseball’s 30 major league teams. Not all the top prospects are there, but there are quite a few. The top two prospects in baseball in fact are there in Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. The Tigers have 7 players on the Salt River Rafters squad and that includes: Casey Crosby, Andy Oliver, Tyler Stohr, Matt Hoffman, Rob Brantly, Dixon Machado, and Hernan Perez.
These are just some of the names that Motor City Bengals is going to be taking a look at over the next couple months as we dive a little deeper into minor league coverage as well as the big club.
So, how they doing thus far?
The season is just a couple weeks in, and while the Tigers guys are getting some playing time, there is minimal at-bats and innings for these guys. That isn’t atypical or anything as the rosters are huge, and often loaded with multiple guys at a position. I will start with the pitchers though.
Andy Oliver has made 2 starts, and while pitchers don’t go long in the Arizona Fall League, Oliver has just 3.1 innings under his belt. In those two appearances, Oliver has given up 5 runs on 9 hits and 3 walks, but has struck out 5 batters. Still, not a very good start to the new season for Oliver who performed pretty well in the AFL before.
Matt Hoffman is spending his 2nd straight year in the AFL. His first got some stouts talking as his fastball began touching the mid 90′s as a lefty. In 2 appearances, Hoffman has gone 3.1 innings, but put up zeros almost across the board. He has only given up one hit and struck out one batter, while not giving up a run or walking a batter. Off to a good start for the AFL returnee.
Tyler Stohr, another reliever for the Tigers drafted in the 2008 class, has gotten a little more usage out of the Salt River bullpen. Stohr has been in 5 games, pitching 5 innings and giving up one run. He has also struck out 6 batters in those innings, getting off to a good start in his AFL debut.
Casey Crosby put himself back on the prospect map this season, flashing his plus stuff and remaining relatively healthy for the Erie Seawolves. The Tigers sent Crosby to the AFL for a challenge, and thus far Crosby has struggled in his 3 appearances. Working out of the pen, Crosby has given up 5 hits, 2 runs and 3 walks in 3 innings while striking out 2.
Rob Brantly had a good 2011 with the West Michigan Whitecaps, and received a promotion to Lakeland near the end of the season where he struggled. Brantly’s season didn’t end though when Detroit decided to send him to the AFL. Brantly, who has only played in 3 games because of 4 catchers on the roster, has done well so far. He is 5 for 13 in those games with 4 RBI and a double.
Hernan Perez was a fill-in for Danny Worth when Worth was sent to instructionals for a potential big league call-up, which he got. The young 2B prospect for the Tigers has gotten into four games and held his own and then some so far. Perez is 6 for 15 with two doubles, contributing a game winning hit in one of the games for the Rafters.
Dixon Machado was also a late add to the AFL roster for Will Rhymes, who also was sent to Florida in case of a big league playoff call-up. The rather frail and young Machado has played in 4 games, going 3 for 12 at the plate, and already has flashed a quality glove at SS.
I don’t expect that Perez and Machado will get a ton more at-bats, considering there is more experienced players ahead of them on the Rafters roster, and pitchers get limited because of the amount of innings, but we will continue to update you all on how they are doing.