We have officially transitioned into the month of July and, as anticipated, the blood pressure is boiling and the curse words are flying. In the mix of it all, J.D. Martinez is still managing to hit home runs. Welcome to the playoff race as a Tigers fan, ladies and gentlemen.
June welcomed the start of the season for the Connecticut Tigers, and with it, a batch of the latest members of the 2015 Detroit draft class. To give your stress levels a break, let's shift our attention down the totem pole and take a look back at the month of June for Detroit's minor league affiliates.
Jefry Marte (Triple-A Toledo)
Good instincts and the ability to fire out an extra base hit when it is needed most are just a few reasons why Jefry Marte became a fan favorite this season. During the month of June, Marte has been flashy at the plate, with 17 runs off 33 hits, hitting .317/.383/.625 with 25 RBI, eight home runs and eight doubles. On the year, Marte leads the Mud Hens with 20 doubles, and is second behind teammate Daniel Fields with three triples. Marte's performance received a nod of approval from the Tigers front office, extending an invitation to join the major league club after Miguel Cabrera suffered a calf injury. Marte's 20 doubles help to make up the International League-leading 171 doubles held by the Mud Hens.
Jeff Ferrell (Double-A Erie)
Surgery, shoulder stiffness, and a complete role conversion seemingly haven't phased the skill of 6-foot-3 Jeff Ferrell, and the 2015 season has been one for the books. The closer role grew on Ferrell much quicker than he or anyone would have anticipated, and as the month of June rolled around, he was dominant once again. Ferrell was on point all month long with a 1.69 ERA, snagging seven of eight save opportunities, and striking out 17 over 10 innings of work for the SeaWolves. He allowed two earned runs and finished with a 0.56 WHIP. Ferrell's call to Toledo tossed the 24-year-old back on the radar, where he notched yet another save for the Mud Hens, followed by that prestigious invitation to join the Tigers roughly a week later.
Paul Voelker (Advanced-A Lakeland)
As a 10th round selection in 2014, Paul Voelker came in to West Michigan for the 2015 season flying a bit off the radar, but that didn't last long. The 22-year-old righthander went without a loss as a member of the Whitecaps, with a two converted save opportunities. Following his promotion to Advanced-A Lakeland, Voelker was sharp once again, nailing down seven of eight save opportunities. The continued success of the former Dallas Baptist pitcher earned him yet one more promotion; this time out to join the Double-A SeaWolves. In the month of June, Voelker was three of four in save opportunities, finishing with a 1.38 ERA and 13 strikeouts for the Flying Tigers.
Ross Kivett (Single-A West Michigan)
In a game with little to no room for overthinking, West Michigan outfielder Ross Kivett has made it his mission to avoid the mental stress and just enjoy the ride. With numbers literally improving daily, the low-key mentality of the former Kansas State Wildcat appears to be working. Since arriving on the West Michigan scene this season with an energy level that would rival that of the Energizer Bunny, Kivett has served as half of a scoring duo alongside fellow outfielder Mike Gerber. Kivett wrapped the month of June hitting .341/.362/.471 with 15 RBI, a pair of home runs, five doubles and six stolen bases. Kivett also posted an 11 percent strikeout rate and an .832 OPS for West Michigan. Kivett's production isn't sticking close to home; holding a Midwest League-high 52 runs and a league second-best in hits behind Gerber with 94. With numbers like that, Whitecaps manager Andrew Graham shouldn't have any trouble dealing with the endless energy of the Cleveland kid.
Brett Pirtle (Short Season - Connecticut)
With so many new faces to hit the Connecticut Tigers from the 2015 draft class, leadership is as vital as ever. At the age of 24, Brett Pirtle lands among the older members of the program, but with age comes obvious experience and Pirtle is no exception. The Tigers 23rd round selection from 2014 is hitting .351/.368/.378, combined 13 hits, one double and a five percent strikeout rate through nine games in the month of June with the Tigers. As a member of the Mississippi State baseball program, Pirtle was reportedly considered by many as "the greatest second baseman in the history of the program," was named to the All-SEC team and set an SEC record for reaching base safely in 63 games facing SEC programs. Pirtle's offensive contribution has also contributed to a collective .250 average for the Tigers.