Detroit Tigers Minor League Report: Holy Toledo

Spencer Torkelson of American League Futures Team singles against the National League Futures Team. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Spencer Torkelson of American League Futures Team singles against the National League Futures Team. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Lakeland Flying Tigers (46-61) – 6th place in Low-A Southeast, West Division

The playoffs have long been out of the question for the Flying Tigers, so they’re largely spending the final month of the season dodging Florida weather. Last week saw two weather-related postponements and two more suspended games, though Lakeland came out of it all with a solid 3-2 record against Clearwater. Offense is always hard to come by in the former Florida Sate League, and the Flygers didn’t hit a single home run on the week, but the unheralded infielder Carlos Mendoza may be opening a few eyes. Last week he went 5-for-11 with two doubles, a triple, and five walks against just two strikeouts, and he’s now batting .305/.438/.407 through his first 17 games in Lakeland.

The pitching equivalent of Mendoza might be Wilmer Flores, who had an excellent outing last week (5.2 IP, 4H, ER, BB, 9K) and shows interesting stuff. The Detroit Tigers signed him in 2020 as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona Western Community College, and though he is ostensibly a college player, he’s actually the youngest pitcher on the roster, not turning 21 until next February. His 5.36 ERA is unsightly, but it obscures an impressive 2.61 FIP, and he throws a 4-seam fastball that sits at 94MPH and has touched 98, an upper-70s curve, and a cutter that averages 89 MPH. He shows above-average spin rates on all three offerings, and should at least carve out a career as a solid minor-league reliever.

Florida Complex League Tigers East (16-28) – 15th place

Florida Complex League Tigers West (15-28) – 17th place

Dominican Summer League Tigers (14-24) – 8th place, San Pedro Division

Down in the Complex League teams are dealing with the same weather issues as Lakeland, but offense isn’t as hard to come by. The Tigers East had a rough week, with a 1-5 record that included a 24-4 loss, but there are some interesting offensive prospects on the squad. Chief among them is Manuel Sequera, who is showing prodigious power and enjoyed a 3-homer game last week.

The blinking red lights for Sequera are his walk (6.7%) and strikeout (29.9%) rates and his .243 batting average, but perhaps it’s useful to compare him to Izaac Pacheo, Detroit’s 2nd rounder from the 2021 draft. Both are shortstops (though Sequera is decidedly more shortstop-shaped than Pacheco) and both are in their first years of pro ball. Pacheco is just seven weeks younger than Sequera, and while he currently owns a 14.1% walk rate, his .218 batting average and 38% strikeout rate point to some difficulty adjusting to pro ball. Both players have plenty of time to adjust though.

Another name of interest in the complex leagues is 20-year-old catcher Danuerys De La Cruz, who is hitting .288 with 13 extra-base hits and nearly as many walks (25) as strikeouts (31). His .961 OPS is good for 2nd in the FCL. Bonus baby Roberto Campos remains among the league-leaders in home runs, though he hasn’t played since August 23rd.

The DSL Tigers were on the wrong side of a no-hitter last week, and the Detroit Tigers 2020 International class (signed in January 2021, because confusion is fun) is seeing some mixed results. Shortstop Cristian Santana is batting just .221, but he’s tied for 3rd in the league with six home runs, while infielder Abel Bastidas is hitting only .168, but he ranks 5th with 31 walks. Meanwhile, pitcher Rayner Castillo seems to be holding his own, with a 3.76 ERA, 37 strikeouts, and 11 walks in 38.1 innings.

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