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Tigers prospects highlights and notes from Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League wrapped up last week and several Tigers prospects represented the organization well during their time with the Glendale Desert Dogs.

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The Arizona Fall League came to an end Saturday, November 15. After being in first place when the AFL All-Star Game took place a little over two weeks ago, the Glendale Desert Dogs finished last in the West Division. But enough of the team, let's take a look at how the players did on an individual level.

Rightfielder Steven Moya topped the list for the Tigers. Named an AFL All-Star and the hitter with the most raw power by at the conclusion of the AFL season, Moya hit .289/.327/.544 with five home runs, six doubles, 19 RBI, and 17 runs scored in 23 games. Moya finished with the second-highest OPS (.871) on the team, tied for third in homers and fourth in slugging percentage, and he was sixth on the team for batting average.

Where the concern lies is with Moya's ability to control the plate. In 90 at-bats Moya struck out 29 times, or every third at-bat. That's an problem at the major league level, but when it's occurring in the minors, it's even more of an issue. It shows a lack of ability to see the ball well and control the strike zone, and Moya's patience and selectivity at the plate is low. For that reason, the 6' 6" slugger was not named the AFL prospect with the most in-game power.

Centerfielder Daniel Fields played in 12 games, getting 47 at-bats and finishing with a .255 batting average and a .319 slugging percentage. Fields had a .375 on-base percentage, but his power was low and he struck out 15 times. When he did get on-base, Fields was caught twice in five attempts to steal and he scored only seven runs, driving in three RBI (including a home run).

Fields finished with a .224 batting average and only a .289 on-base percentage with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens in 2014 though. After playing at three different levels within the Tigers organization before his season was cut short due to an injury, Fields' slugging percentage was down 30 points from the regular season to Arizona. However, his on-base percentage, batting average, and OPS were all up during that time frame.

Second baseman Domingo Leyba struggled in the AFL, but it was to be expected. He began with the Connecticut Tigers in 2014 and finished with the West Michigan Whitecaps. Leyba didn't get much playing time as other prospects were given priority, but the point of his time in Arizona was for him to see and get used to a higher level of baseball.

AFL Desert Dogs manager (and Double-A Erie Seawolves manager), Lance Parrish, was trying to get Leyba time at shortstop, but due to the priority of finding playing time for other hitters, it was next to impossible. Leyba finished with a .171 average and slugging, with a .277 on-base percentage, no home runs and one RBI. In 13 games, he drew four walks, scored two runs on seven hits, and struck out nine times.

On the pitching side of things, left-handed reliever Joe Mantiply stood out for the Tigers. In 14 innings of relief, Mantiply gave up just four runs on 12 hits, allowing just two walks and striking out 15 over the course of 11 games. Not much was said about Mantiply in the AFL, but he was one of the more reliable relief pitchers. He struck out the side in his second-to-last appearance, and lasted more than an inning in four of his 11 games.

Mantiply has some inconsistencies in that he has trouble keeping runners off the basepaths though. Of the 14 innings he pitched, only three of those were clean. He gave up at least one hit on four occasions, and three times Mantiply allowed multiple hits. Interestingly, Mantiply walked just two batters. During the regular season Mantiply had a 2.52 ERA, and he kept that consistency by finishing with a 2.57 ERA in Arizona, holding batters to a .224 average.

Left-handed starter Robbie Ray left the AFL early to get married, but in the 11 innings he pitched, Ray gave up five runs (three earned), no home runs, finishing with an ERA of 2.45. Ray walked six batters in four games, but the amount was down from 11 in the four starts he made with the Tigers in 2014. Overall he did well and Saturday Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski said the team was happy with how his time in Arizona went.

"He threw the ball well for us there," Dombrowski said. "His velocity was very good. His slider improved. His changeup was better, so we felt good about his performance."

Right-handed reliever Zac Reininger pitched in 11 games, struggling through much of the short season. Much like his batting counterpart though, Reininger was getting work in at a higher level after playing in West Michigan for the 2014 season. The righty gave up multiple runs on three occasions, four home runs, as well as eight walks allowed. He also had 14 strikeouts in that time.

Right-hander Chad Smith finished with a 9.00 ERA in only four starts. He gave up walks in three of his four starts, as well as five runs, although four occurred in the first game where Smith lasted just one-third of an inning. Much like his time in Detroit, Smith just wasn't ready to face hitters in the AFL or the majors. He'll need to decrease his walks and do a better job of commanding the strike zone, but that will likely come with time.