Each year, as minor league regular season play comes to a close, major league clubs select some of their brightest protégées to participate in extended fall and winter play for continued development. This October, the Detroit Tigers sent 12 minor leaguers to take part in fall and winter ball programs located in Arizona and Venezuela.
The Arizona Fall League plays home to representatives from all 30 MLB clubs, broken down into six teams made up of prospects from five major league organizations per team. This year, the Scottsdale Scorpions (2-1) welcomed seven members of the Tigers minor league programs.
RHP Jeff Ferrell
RHP Austin Kubitza
RHP Adam Ravenelle
RHP Montreal Robertson
1B Dominic Ficociello
IF/OF JaCoby Jones
RF Michael Gerber
Since arriving with the Tigers organization following the trade that sent pitcher Joakim Soria to the Pittsburgh Pirates, JaCoby Jones established himself as a legitimate power threat for the Double-A Erie SeaWolves. Through three games in the Arizona Fall League, Jones is hitting .538/.571/.1000 while leading the Scorpions with a team-high in runs (5), hits (7) and home runs (2, which came in the same game). He is also tied for a team high in RBI (4) with Tigers teammate Mike Gerber.
Much like Jones, Single-A West Michigan standout Mike Gerber has leaned on his considerable ability at the plate to deliver key pokes for the Scorpions. While his numbers haven't accelerated as quickly, the 23-year-old outfielder broke out in a big way for the Whitecaps, leading them to a Midwest League title. Gerber is hitting .429/.375/.857 in two games for Scottsdale, delivering three hits, including a double and a triple to assist with his four RBI on the year.
Lanky switch-hitter Dominic Ficociello excelled after a midseason promotion to Double-A Erie. Ficociello posted his strongest performance with the SeaWolves in August, hitting .349/.360/.542 with six doubles and 21 RBI. In his pair of AFL starts, Ficociello has yet to see playing time at his usual first base corner, starting out as the designated hitter and following up with a start at third. The infielder is hitting .250/.250/.375 with a pair of hits, including a double and an RBI.
On the hill for Scottsdale, while Jeff Ferrell and Austin Kubitza have yet to see action for the Scorpions, Montreal Robertson and Adam Ravenelle have combined for 3 2/3 innings in relief. In his 2 2/3 innings, Robertson earned a win over Glendale, and has yet to allow a baserunner. Ravenelle entered to work relief in the same contest, tossing just one frame, walking two and striking out one.
Caracas Leones - Caracas, Venezuela
Five members of the Detroit minor league programs joined with the Caracas Leones (8-3) of the Venezuelan Winter League at the beginning of October and have already started to make some waves at the plate. The selected players include:
2B Javior Betancourt
2B Harold Castro
SS Dixon Machado
3B Francisco Martinez
CF Wynton Bernard
It was 133 hits that launched Dixon Machado into a memorable season with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, despite a subpar performance from the program overall. Machado concluded his regular season with Triple-A Toledo hitting .261/.313/.332, tallying 133 hits in his first season at the highest level of the minor leagues. Machado transitioned to Caracas at the start of October, and hasn't slowed down since.
Machado and Baltimore Orioles outfielder Henry Urrutia are currently in a seesaw battle for the team's hits lead. Machado and Urrutia are currently tied with 13 hits apiece, with Machado batting .351/.455/.514 with three doubles, three RBI, nine runs and a home run.
With titles and accomplishments in tow, Wynton Bernard concluded a solid run with the Double-A Erie SeaWolves by hitting .301/.352/.408 with 161 hits, two shy of the team's all-time hits record. Since joining the Leones, Bernard is hitting .350/.381/.500 with seven hits, including a double, a triple and three RBI. In typical fashion, Bernard has also found a way to add a pair of stolen bases, a team-high.
Recent Lakeland Flying Tigers third baseman Francisco Martinez is working to keep pace in his usual consistent fashion, with six hits on the board since his start this season. Martinez also added a double and an RBI on the year. Infielder Javier Betancourt made his Caracas debut by cracking a double and Harold Castro has posted a pair of hits in his four plate appearances for the Leones.