As data continues to roll in, we are starting to see some things shake out in the Arizona Fall League. No matter how many games happen, or how many the Tigers guys play in, it is still a small sample still, but doing well in the AFL is an encouraging thing. The problem is that so far this season, there is very few positives to report coming from the Tigers prospects.
Nick Castellanos is clearly the marquee guy that the Tigers sent to Arizona, and after a strong start, Castellanos has struggled. In 46 at-bats for the Mesa Solar Sox, Castellanos is now down to hitting .239 and not showing much in the power department, posting an OPS of just .691. He continues to struggle with the strikeouts, whiffing 17 times so far.
James McCann is splitting equal time with a couple of other catchers, so thus far he has only played in seven games. In those games he has 5 hits in 18 at-bats, but not slugging at all as they are all singles.
The third offensive player the Tigers sent was Aaron Westlake. I have been down on Westlake essentially from the start, but after fellow MCB writer Matt Snyder pointed out his strong second half split, I was going to wait and see how he did in Arizona before I continued my “he is a wasted draft pick” rampage on him. Westlake is hitting .147 in Arizona thus far, with just 5 hits in 34 at-bats. Not good…
The pitching side of things isn’t going much better, but in that group is the Tigers top AFL performer so far. It might surprise some who it is.
Matt Hoffman is an AFL veteran at this point. I believe it’s the third year he has been there. He is pretty much repeating what he always does. Flashes a strong arm, strikes some guys out, but shows little command. In 5.2 innings, Hoffman has struck out 7 guys, but has also walked 5 while posting an ERA of 4.76.
Tyler Clark had himself a tremendous 2012, but I cautioned readers before on Clark and will continue to do so. His stuff doesn’t translate as he moves up the ladder, and he isn’t having himself a good time of things in the AFL. Clark has posted an ERA of 19.64 in his four appearances thus far. Needless to say, he is finding difficulty finding the same success he did during the regular season.
Luke Putkonen came out of nowhere blazing a mid to upper 90’s fastball this season, after toiling in the low 90’s his whole career as a Tigers minor leaguer. Basically, he was a guy that was close to being cut, and now he is in the AFL starting games. Putkonen still has to get better command and strengthen his secondaries, but he is fairing pretty well in Arizona right now. In three starts and ten innings Putkonen has an ERA of 4.50, striking out six, while allowing 10 hits and three walks.
October 03, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Luke Putkonen (36) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE
Mike Morrison is the Tigers top performer down in the AFL right now. In six appearances, Morrison has gone 6.2 innings and hasn’t allowed an earned run yet. While he has only struck out four batters, Morrison has given up just two hits and walked three. Morrison is a guy that tends to live in the low 90’s with his fastball but can run it up their a little bit higher. He is coming off a pretty good season, but is going to have to throw better and more strikes if he wants to make it at the big league level.