There’s still plenty of talent in the Detroit Tigers farm system.
Last weekend didn’t just bring us Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers, it also marked the beginning of the minor league baseball season. In fact, because of the lockout-induced delay to MLB action, the Toledo Mud Hens actually began their season before the Tigers.
There’s not quite as much star power in the system this year, with Spencer Torkelson up with the big boys, and Riley Greene on the shelf for a few months. But there’s still enough interesting talent on the farm to keep Detroit Tigers fans excited for the future.
Most of the farm teams played just three games, so there hasn’t been a ton of action to speak of, but we still saw plenty of highlights at every level of the minors. Let’s begin with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.
Toledo Mud Hens (2-4) – T7th in International League East
The Toledo Mud Hens opened up their season with six home games against the Rochester Red Wings, Washington’s Triple-A affiliate. They started off on the right foot (claw?) with a 5-0 win on Opening Day, led by a strong start from Nivaldo Rodriguez (4.1 IP, 5H, 0R, BB, 7K), excellent bullpen work, and a couple big hits from Jacob Robson and Daz Cameron.
Unfortunately, the Hens didn’t find much success the rest of the week. Joey Wentz looked solid in his first start of the year last Wednesday, and Ryan Kreidler had a huge game (3-for-3, 2HR, BB), but Rochester pulled away for a 6-3 win. The Toledo bullpen collapsed late on Thursday, spoiling a solid rehab start from Michael Pineda and three strong innings from Ricardo Pinto in a 8-5 loss in 12 innings.
The Red Wings made it three in a row on Friday by beating up on starter Chase Anderson (2.2 IP, 6H, 3ER, 2BB, 2K) and reliever A.J. Ladwig (3.2 IP, 5H, 4ER, BB, 4K) in a 7-4 victory, and then on Saturday they spoiled the Triple-A debut of Beau Brieske (5IP, 7H, 5ER, BB, 4K) in an ugly 9-0 blanking. The Mud Hens bats stayed quiet for most of Sunday, too, but another strong outing from Rodriguez and the bullpen, and a blast from Brady Policelli, set the stage for Josh Lester’s walk-off heroics in a 2-1 win.
The Mud Hens struck out 77 times last week, easily the highest total in the International League. They’ll try to make some more contact this week as they hit the road to Des Moines for a six-game set against the Iowa Cubs.