Detroit Tigers Minor League Report: Week 3
The Detroit Tigers are in rebuilding mode. “Future Friday” is a segment where we examine the bevy of prospects in Detroit and their future impact in the Motor City.
The Detroit Tigers affiliates are all at or near the 20 games played mark. It was an eventful week around the system, as a pair made their 2018 Tigers debuts, including one MLB debut. As always, we start with a team still in first place.
Toledo Mud Hens
After going 4-2 on the road this week, the Mud Hens continue to lead the International League West at 13-5. Toledo returns to Fifth Third Field tonight to begin a six-game homestand.
As we mentioned last week, Mike Gerber was called up to be the 26th man in last Friday’s doubleheader against Kansas City. He made his MLB debut as a pinch runner in the second game, but did not get an at-bat. On Monday, he was brought back up by the Tigers to replace Drew VerHagen, who was designated for assignment.
Gerber went 0-for-2 in a pair of pinch hit opportunities during Wednesday’s double dip against Pittsburgh. With all the pitching the Tigers used Wednesday, Gerber was then optioned back to Toledo to bring up an extra arm.
The arm Detroit selected was righty Johnny Barbato. Barbato was dominant for the Mud Hens prior to his call-up, posting a 1.17 ERA. He was warming up at one point during Thursday’s game, but did not enter.
Detroit also brought up righty Artie Lewicki for the first time this season. Lewicki worked six scoreless innings in his most recent outing for the Mud Hens, and was recalled to be the 26th man for Wednesday’s twin bill against the Pirates. The righty allowed two runs in his lone inning of work, and was sent back to Toledo after the game.
A Familiar Face Back in Detroit?
DFA’ing VerHagen opened up a spot on the Detroit Tigers 40-man roster. Earlier in the week, our Andy Patton examined candidates for the open spot. Who the Tigers choose could give us a clue as to the next player to make his debut in the Motor City.
One of the candidates to replace VerHagen on the 40-man roster is lefty Blaine Hardy. Hardy has made 164 relief appearances with Detroit over the last four years, but started the year in Toledo after dealing with injuries this spring.
Hardy was dominant in his outing this week, going six shutout innings while allowing just one hit. For the season, the southpaw has a 0.52 ERA in six outings, the last three of which have been starts. In 17.1 innings, he’s allowed six hits, four walks, and struck out 20.
Offense Heating Up
Similar to the Tigers, Toledo had a slow start with the bats, but the offense has perked up lately. The Mud Hens pounded out 14 hits on Tuesday, led by Christin Stewart.
Likely the best power-hitting prospect in the system, Stewart had a breakout game. The former first rounder went 4-for-5 with a homer, a double and two RBIs. He started off the season slow, but the four-hit effort hiked his average up to .250. Hopefully, the four-hit game is a sign he’s heating up.
One guy who has done nothing but hit when he’s been in the lineup is Jason Krizan. In that Tuesday night contest, Krizan was 3-for-4 and scored three times. In nine games, the former eighth rounder has four multi-hit games and is hitting .448.
While a pair of outfielders had good weeks at the plate for the Mud Hens, Mikie Mahtook did not. The Tigers Opening Day left fielder went 4-for-26, bringing his average to .146 in 10 games with Toledo. Strikeouts continue to be a problem as well, as Mahtook has fanned 14 times in 41 at-bats.
Finally, after starting the season on the disabled list, infielder Kody Eaves made his 2018 debut this week. In two games, Eaves went 0-for-6. Prior to the season, Eaves made Andy Patton’s under-the-radar prospects list.