Stock Down: Tigers Minor Leaguers


Yesterday, we touched upon some of the guys in the Tigers systems who made a step forward in the 2011 season. Today, we take a look at guys who didn’t do as well for their prospect status, in effect, they took a step back. Again, this doesn’t necessarily reflect whether or not the player is still a prospect or not.

Without further delay, lets break some of the bad news for Tigers prospects.

1. Cale Iorg

Iorg has been somewhat of an enigma since signing with the Tigers for a significant amount of money in 2007. At first, the lack of offense was just cast off as a product of the layoff he had from a two year mormon mission. As the years have passed, however, it is apparent that Iorg just isn’t a good offensive player. Still, he is one of the more athletic players that the Tigers have in their system. Iorg is a true joy to watch with the glove. This season, there was a new optimism surrounding Cale, as he came off of a rather successful Arizona Fall League appearance. Iorg hit just .208 for the Toledo Mud Hens this season, earning himself a demotion back to Erie, where he continued to struggle at the plate. He hit .167. Its gotten to the point where the organization has toyed with the idea of turning Iorg into a utility player to increase his defensive value.

2. Daniel Fields

Fields, a local product, is without a doubt one of the more physically gifted players in the Tigers minor league system. That being said, he didn’t exactly light the world on fire in his 2nd season with the Tigers. Fields kind of burst on to the scene in 2010, taking an aggressive assignment to the Lakeland Flying Tigers at age 19 and holding his own. The Tigers rightfully sent Fields back to Lakeland in 2011, and Fields promptly failed to improve. Fields hit just .220 in his return to Lakeland, after .240 the previous season. He struck out a lot, and didn’t show off any more power. His lack of improvement on any level is disheartening considering the relative success he had at a level that was too advanced for him last year. This of course doesn’t mean that Fields isn’t a prospect anymore, he just didn’t have a good season and therefore made this list. I suspect a 3rd straight season in Lakeland is in order for Fields in 2012.

3. Wade Gaynor

Gaynor was the Tigers 3rd round pick for the Tigers in 2009. Given that, a little bit more has to be expected from him than what the organization is getting at this point. Gaynor hit .286 for the Whitecaps in 2010, and the drop-off is pretty drastic here. In Lakeland this season, Gaynor hit .213  for the Flying Tigers. He still has the raw power that the Tigers drafted him for, but it was rarely on display this season with the exception of a bunch of doubles. I think there is some hope here that Gaynor can kind of have a Brennan Boesch like awakening at some point, and turn some of that raw power into real game power. His selectivity at the plate is going to have to get much better for that to happen however. I suspect that Gaynor is going to have to repeat in Lakeland in 2012, and going to have to show much better.

4. Jose Ortega

If I had done a list like this last year for this website, Jose Ortega would have been on the stock up list, and could have been first. Nobody did more for themselves last season in the minor league system than Ortega did. In 2010, Ortega climbed three levels, and in some cases made the Tigers top 10 pre-season prospect lists. Ortega possesses a strong right arm, but his 2011 season began poorly from the start when he began the season on the disabled list. Once Ortega began pitching, things didn’t exactly get much better. With the Toledo Mud Hens this season, Ortega pitched in 33 games spanning 50 innings. Ortega finished with a pretty awful 6.30 ERA on the season, and he wasn’t fooling opposing batters who hit .310 against him. Relievers are fickle, and from year to year you don’t know necessarily what to expect, so Ortega will probably get another shot at Toledo in 2012.

5. Luke Putkonen

Putkonen was selected as a 3rd rounder in the 2007 draft out of North Carolina by the Tigers. A big right handed starter, the Tigers were intrigued by Putkonen’s stuff, and his future potential. Putkonen has always been real solid, despite battling minor injuries throughout his career. In 2010, Putkonen had a very respectable 3.18 ERA for the Lakeland Flying Tigers, and there was hope from some, like myself, that he would be able to take the next step forward in AA Erie this season. Putkonen had a pretty awful 2011 season. He began the year in AA Erie, which was the next logical step in his progression. Putkonen made just 11 starts in Erie, going 1-7 with a 7.57 ERA. After the rough start, Putkonen was then sent back to Lakeland, and he didn’t have much success there as well. In 18 appearances for the Flying Tigers, Putkonen had an ERA of 5.54. Putkonen’s stuff hasn’t taken a leap forward, and his ceiling still remains a back of the rotation starter or long reliever.

6. Edwin Gomez

Gomez is a young OF drafted by the Tigers in the 4th round in the 2009 player draft out of Puerto Rico. At 20 years old, Gomez is still really raw as a baseball player, and didn’t have the kind of season the Tigers organization was looking for. To start 2011, Gomez was sent to class low A West Michigan and struggled mightily at the plate. Gomez hit just .182 for the Whitecaps. What was really alarming were the 30 strikeouts in 77 at-bats, and that prompted the organization to send Gomez back to extended spring training to wait for the short season leagues to begin. Gomez then played for Connecticut briefly and did well in 42 at-bats, hitting .286. Gomez is a good athlete so he will get plenty of chances going forward, but thus far things have been pretty uninspiring for the youngster.