While the Tigers full season squads have been in action for over a month now, a new season gets underway today, and a new crop of Tigers youngsters will take the field. The Venezuelan Summer League gets started today, and that means the Dominican Summer League isn’t that far off either. The two youngest Tigers squads have been producing more and more talent over the years, and the most exciting prospect the Tigers have playing on those squads will be Adelin Santa, who received a big bonus during the International signing period last year. Santa, looks like he will be playing for the Dominican Summer League team when they get started. The same goes for outfielder Ignacio Valdez, who signed a six figure deal as well with the Tigers in the off-season.
While the VSL team doesn’t start the season with any real big names to watch, there are a few that I am looking at tracking as the season goes on. Three pitchers in particular that I will be following; Anthony Castro, Eduardo Jimenez, and Eudis Hidrago.
In other minor league moves, the Tigers have moved Jacob Turner up to Toledo, and he will start tonight for the Mud Hens. Obviously, Turner isn’t going to get a lot of challenge from continuing to pitch in the Florida State League, so this move was expected at some point. It puts Turner on the doorstep to another promotion to the big leagues, though I don’t see that happening unless an injury occurs. If one does, I suspect the Tigers will turn to Turner if they believe that he has gotten past his shoulder issues.
*Steven Moya has returned to the West Michigan lineup after dealing with a hamstring issue. Moya, who was leading the Midwest League in hitting at the time of his DL stint, should help the West Michigan lineup. The move sent Tigers very young prospect Danry Vasquez back to extended spring training, as he was struggling a little bit with the Whitecaps.
*Daniel Fields has undergone hernia surgery, and should be out a month or so more at this point. It’s a little disappointing as Fields was having a pretty good spring this year, and part of an exciting outfield in Lakeland. Hopefully he can get back on track later this summer.
*Jeff Ferrell returned to the mound for the Whitecaps as well. Ferrell, who had Tommy John last season, has a pretty good arm, and should help the Whitecaps pitching staff going forward. As he builds strength, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move to the rotation. Or, the Tigers could keep him as a long guy out of the pen, promote one of their starters, and move Brenny Paulino from extended spring to the rotation.
*Despite the lack of prospects, the the Tigers AA affiliate Erie has been playing good ball of late. Led by Rob Brantly, the offense has gotten better, and has led some to wonder if a position switch might be in order for Brantly, mainly one to LF. Brantly might be able to play the position, but I think the Tigers would still be better off having him catch for now. Brantly could be a quality trade chip as the season moves forward, considering the Tigers have some plus defenders in Bryan Holaday, James McCann, and Curt Casali.