The Detroit Tigers minor league affiliates around the organization are celebrating the addition of several missing pieces that are giving genuine hope for the first time in a long while. Despite lower level standings for Toledo, Erie and Lakeland, West Michigan and Connecticut have battled their way into second place contention within their respective divisions and showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.
With the revolving door between Detroit and Toledo in seemingly working order, the shuffling of pieces in the ranks below continues as the Tigers' front office brass works to piece together a renewed chance at a title. Take a look back over several standouts throughout the minor league system and, as always, make sure to voice your selection for the Tigers' prospect of the month for July.
Trayvon Robinson (Triple-A Toledo)
Since his selection as the 10th round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005, Trayvon Robinson quickly become a bit of a baseball nomad. Since beginning with the Dodgers, Robinson has gone on to contribute with six different teams, ending with his most recent, the Tigers. Having seen playing time at the major league level, Robinson debuted with the Seattle Mariners on August 5, 2011, when he robbed Torii Hunter of a 2-run home run. After being released by the Arizona Diamondbacks in June, Detroit took advantage of the opportunity, signing him to a minor league contract and assigning him to the Toledo Mud Hens. Since making his debut in a Mud Hens jersey on July 3, Robinson closed the month hitting .282/.370/.352 with a .722 OPS.
Austin Green (Double-A Erie)
Despite notable success since making his entrance into the Tigers organization as a 2013 13th round selection out of San Diego, Austin Green has discovered the secret to both maintaining and exceeding expectations. The 25-year-old catcher maneuvered his way through the early months of his campaign with Erie this season, hitting .172 for the month of May. Since then, Green his displayed nothing but consistency, earning himself Minor League Player of the Month honors from the Tigers after hitting .323/.357/.400 combined with a .757 OPS in July. In his 65 appearances at the plate for the SeaWolves, Green launched 21 hits, including five doubles, knocked in 10 RBI and walked a total of three times.
Francisco Martinez (Advanced-A Lakeland)
In the midst of a rough season compounded by several extra innings matchups, members of the Lakeland Flying Tigers are finding ways to continue to draw attention beyond their newfound love of free baseball. For 24-year-old Francisco Martinez, the task has seemed fairly straightforward. The 6-foot-2 native of Edo Miranda, Venezuela has taken and maintained control of almost every offensive category for the Flying Tigers this season. Martinez currently holds a team-high 112 hits, 22 doubles, nine home runs, 47 RBI and 17 stolen bases. In July, Martinez hit .271/.296/.424, knocking 32 hits, including six doubles and four home runs for the Flying Tigers.
Trey Teakell (Single-A West Michigan)
Following in the footsteps of previous talent to surface out of Texas Christian University, Trey Teakell has spent his early days as a Tiger proving that within his 6-foot-5 frame, he's as cool as they come. Teakell has been nothing short of eye catching as he has gradually worked his way up the franchise ladder, leaving a solid impression every step of the way. Beginning his campaign with the Connecticut Tigers, Teakell appeared in 12 games, throwing a total of 12 innings and striking out six. He was promoted Single-A West Michigan and has continued to impress. In his debut with the Whitecaps, Teakell threw a single inning, allowing one hit and striking out a pair. His debut victory was quickly followed up with two more. Teakell closed out July with a 0.90 ERA, three consecutive victories and one earned run allowed in 10 innings of work.
Drew Smith (Short-Season Connecticut)
The 2015 third-round selection out of Dallas Baptist University stands at 6-foot-2, pocketing a fastball that was rumored to hit 99 miles per hour in 2014. With a home fanbase large enough to rival the Beatles, the hard-throwing righty out of Crawley, Texas began with a brief stint in the Gulf Coast League before receiving the call to join the roster in Connecticut. Since arriving, Smith has yet to see a loss. In July, he worked 16 1/3 innings for the Tigers, striking out 16 and allowing one earned run and three walks for the month. On August 9, Smith joined four of his Tigers teammates as selections for the 2015 New York-Penn League All-Star squad. Smith is currently leading the Tigers with a 0.34 ERA.