Detroit Tigers Minor League Report: Week 8
By Rob Low
West Michigan Whitecaps
A 2-5 week for West Michigan dropped their record to 28-25. The Whitecaps currently sit in third place in the Midwest League Eastern Division.
More of the Same From Manning
In Matt Manning’s lone start of the week, the right-hander continued to do what he’s done all season. Strike a lot of guys out, and walk a lot. The 2016 first rounder struck out five and walked five in four innings.
Manning has struck out 48 in 30.2 innings for a rate of 14.1 K/9. His walk rate is up to 6.5 BB/9, more than two walks higher than last year. In Monday’s start, the righty threw a mere 53.3 percent of his pitches for strikes. Like Funkhouser, improved control is the number one priority for Manning this summer.
The pitching performance of the week in the Detroit Tigers organization came on Tuesday from Elvin Rodriguez. The righty dealt a career-high seven innings, allowing one run on three hits. He also established a new career-high in strikeouts for the second straight outing, fanning 12.
After a bit of a rough beginning to the season, Rodriguez has gotten better in each of his last three starts. In those outings, he’s given up 13 hits, two earned runs, walked five, and struck out 27 in 18.1 innings. Tuesday’s outing was also the first start this season in which Rodriguez did not walk a batter.
This is Rodriguez’s first season with the organization, having come over from the Angels as the player to be named later that completed the Justin Upton trade. Like Manning, he’s 20 years old, making him roughly two years younger than the average age in the Midwest League. Not bad for a guy who was essentially a throw-in in the deal.
Going the Wrong Way
To make room for Burch’s promotion, outfielder Jose Azocar was sent down to West Michigan. Azocar is another from Andy Patton’s prospects entering make-or-break seasons list. After having a rough 2017 in Lakeland, Azocar was off to a slow start again this year, slashing .214/.231/.252 through 30 games.
The Tigers brass hopes returning to West Michigan, where he hit .281 in 2016, will help pull Azocar out of his funk. If it doesn’t work out, he may be the odd man out in the search for future outfielders in the Motor City.
Azocar is off to a decent start with the Whitecaps. In five games, he’s 6-for-22 (.273) and has scored four runs. It’ll be interesting to see what it will take for him to move back up to Lakeland.
Next: What can the Tigers expect from the No. 1 pick?
That wraps up another week of the Detroit Tigers Minor League Report. Make sure to check back each Friday throughout the season for the latest news and updates from around the system.