Analyzing The Minor League Rosters: Toledo and Erie


I have been scouring the internet with abandon the past 24 hours trying to stay current with information on who is on the rosters for the Tigers minor league affiliates. For the most part, I now have a good idea of where guys are playing starting tomorrow, so I thought I would take a quick look at our full season squads and give you some thoughts on those rosters. There were some interesting decisions, and I will be using the rosters at as a helpful guide.

Toledo Mud Hens (AAA)

There should be some interest in the Mud Hens roster, after all, there is going to be some major league players on that roster this season. The starting rotation is going to feature Drew Smyly at the start (likely to be replaced by Jacob Turner at some point), Andy Oliver, Casey Crosby, and Adam Wilk. All guys have legitimate big league potential. The bullpen will feature a number of hard throwers including Jose Ortega, Brayan Villarreal, Matt Hoffman, and Luke Putkonen.

The position players are a little less fruitful. Most are minor league journeymen, however, the roster will get a boost when Smyly gets promoted to the bigs, with either Andy Dirks, Clete Thomas, and Danny Worth being sent down. Worth may be sent down as Brandon Inge comes off the D.L. Quentin Berry impressed in spring, so it will be interesting to see if he can carry that over in Toledo. Audy Ciriaco still has talent, and Ryan Strieby looks to add some trade value to himself.

Biggest Strength:

Pitching. There are plenty of quality arms on this roster, and should make a couple of trips to Toledo and their ballpark this summer plenty worth it.

Biggest Weakness:

Power. There really isn’t a lot of pop in this lineup. Brad Eldred is a minor league veteran and has some power, along with Ryan Strieby and James Head, but other than that, this lineup is filled with slap hitters.

Potential Surprise:

Luke Putkonen. I had heard Putkonen was popping mid 90’s regularly, but didn’t believe it until I saw it for myself today. This guy was literally in jeopardy of being cut, and with the move to the bullpen, he might be resurrecting a career for himself. He still has things to improve on, but his arm is working better than it ever has, and the increase in velocity is making some take notice.

Erie Seawolves (AA)

It seems like every year, there is one minor league affiliate’s roster that seems to be the whipping boy. By that I mean a dearth of quality talent. This year, if the roster I am looking at is accurate, fans of the Seawolves could be watching a pretty uninteresting team. At least to start. In fact, let me be honest, since I don’t like to mince words. This roster is terrible.

Pitching wise, the rotation is going to be anchored by lefty Jay Voss. Voss, who had a strong 2011, returns to Erie and hopes to keep himself in the mix for a call up at some point. He is joined by recent waiver claim, Kelvin De La Cruz, as the other guy in the rotation with some potential. The rest of the rotation is somewhat uninspiring at this point. The bullpen is going to be led by closers Tyler Stohr and Kenny Faulk, and get some help from Michael Morrison and Jared Gayhart.

Position players of note are lacking on this roster. The best prospect on this team is catcher Rob Brantly. He is joined mostly by guys who are of the roster filler types around the infield and outfield. In the outfield there is Jamie Johnson who is an on base machine, and Tony Plagman who is trying to make a go of it as a LF.

Biggest Strength:

Relief pitching. If the Seawolves can get to the late innings with a lead, there are some guys with the potential to hold it. Stohr and Gayhart from the right side have good stuff, and Faulk, despite the lack of a top notch fastball has a good track record.

Biggest Weakness:

Top level talent. Guys like Jordan Lennerton, Tony Plagman, and Rawley Bishop in the middle of the order might do some damage on some nights, but there are holes in all of their games, and they are older. Basically, there is nobody worth getting to excited about besides Brantly day to day.

Potential Surprise:

None. Sorry, don’t see a surprise here.