October is preparing to leave us almost as quickly as it started, and with it, Detroit Tigers prospects are playing -- and playing well -- in baseball leagues from Caracas to Scottsdale. Despite a variety of outcomes, these prospects are showing that the future within the Tigers' organization could be brighter than previously expected.
It only took a short time for Wynton Bernard to make his presence known in the Venezuelan Winter League. Bernard and Dixon Machado have been spearheading the efforts of the Caracas Leones, who hold a first place position in their division thanks to an 11-6 record.
It should come as no surprise that Bernard is leading the team in stolen bases (4), but he is also climbing the charts at the plate as well. Through 11 games, Bernard is hitting .317/.378/.488 with 13 hits, including three doubles and a pair of triples.
Meanwhile, Machado has found a groove at the plate that he didn't quite get into with the Toledo Mud Hens this season. The 23-year-old shortstop hit four home runs in 127 games with Toledo and could pass that in no time with Caracas. Through 15 games, Machado is maintaining team-best totals in hits (22), doubles (7) and RBI (11), and is tied for the team lead with three home runs. He is hitting .407/.508/.704 with a 1.211 OPS.
Arizona Fall League
Coming into Week 3 of the season, the Scottsdale Scorpions currently stand in second place in the AFL's Eastern Division with a 4-5 record. The seven members representing the Tigers in Scottsdale concluded their second full week of play holding a top three slot in almost every offensive category, including an impressive nine RBI through five starts for Mike Gerber.
With 13 home runs during the 2015 regular season, Gerber made it clear he could clear the fence, but it was October 22 that the outfielder punched a laser over the wall for his first grand slam of the year. Through his five games with the Scorpions, Gerber is hitting .421/.455/.842 with a team-best in runs (6), doubles (3), triples (1) and RBI (9).
JaCoby Jones set the tone early with eight hits in his first four outings, including a pair of jacks in just his second game. Jones cooled a bit the following three contests, going 1-for-11 with a run scored and four strikeouts, but regained his footing on October 24 against Peoria, adding three hits to his resume. Through seven starts, Jones is hitting .379/.438/.586 with six runs off 11 hits, including two home runs and four RBI.
Not everyone is lighting up the stat sheet, though. Dominic Ficociello has been a bit quieter in Scottsdale compared to a breakout regular season. The switch hitter has seen action in six games for the Scorpions, where he is 4-for-24 at the plate. He had his best game on October 23, where he went 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBI. Ficociello is hitting .167/.259/.292 with a double, a triple and four RBI.
Austin Kubitza (0-1, 3.52 ERA) has apparently carried his regular season struggles over to the action in Scottsdale. The 6'5" starter has taken the hill for the Scorpions in a pair of appearances and the circumstances won't seem to work in the favor of the big righty. Through 7 2/3 innings of work, Kubitza has allowed six runs (three earned) off 10 hits, giving up a home run, walking three and striking out three.
Australian Baseball League
Though you may not be familiar with the town of Canberra, the location in southeastern Australia is currently home to Tigers minor league infielder Aaron Sayers. The native of Melbourne, Australia spent the 2015 season split between Short-Season Connecticut and the Gulf Coast League, and has made the transition this fall to join the Canberra Cavalry. The Cavalry currently hold a first place tie with the Perth Heat, standing at 3-1. Through four games with Canberra, Sayers is hitting .154/.214/.308 with two runs off two hits, including a triple.
Just northeast of Sayers, Calvin Drummond, the Tigers' 6th round selection in 2013, has slipped on a Sydney Blue Sox uniform in a relief role out of the bullpen for the second place Blue Sox (2-2). Drummond fanned 59 in 64 innings split between Advanced-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie in 2015. The 6'3" righty secured his first save with a pair of strikeouts and one hit allowed in two innings of work.
A source close to Bless You Boys reports that third baseman Zach Shepherd may also play in the Australian league this winter, but he is not yet listed on any roster.