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Tigers' 2015 draft class continues to impress in minor leagues

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Several of the Tigers' top draft picks this year are already excelling in lower levels of the minor leagues.

There is something to be said about the members of the Tigers 2015 draft class. Since coming aboard the organization in June, a sizable number of the draftees have wasted no time in building confidence in the fanbase for what lies ahead. As hard as it is to believe, the Tigers have living, breathing prospects and it's creating excitement for the first time in a long time.

On Thursday, with Tigers' pitcher Buck Farmer moving off the top 30 prospects list, third-round selection, Drew Smith was introduced in the 30 slot. Smith becomes the third member of the draft class to make the list alongside fellow pitcher Beau Burrows and outfielder Christin Stewart.

Smith received the opportunity to show his skill set through 1 2/3 innings in his recent Low-A debut, striking out a pair and allowing one run. Though moved to the disabled list as a cautionary measure, Smith stands to see plenty of action in the season to come.

Through 28 innings of work, Burrows remains a staple in the Gulf Coast League, allowing seven runs and striking out 33 with a 1.04 WHIP.

In 41 games with West Michigan, Stewart is hitting .295/.391/.500 with nine doubles, five home runs and 27 RBI.

Columbus Clippers 4, Toledo Mud Hens 3 (box)

After being backed into a corner in the previous three contests with the Clippers (76-57), Toledo (53-80) sent Tim Melville (6-9, 4.86 ERA) to the hill to snag a victory. Melville worked six innings, allowing three runs and fanning five. Steven Moya led Toledo with a pair of hits, while Dean Green launched his 16th home run. A ground ball single scored the go-ahead for Columbus and Toledo falls in their fourth straight loss to the Clippers.

Erie SeaWolves 5, Harrisburg Senators 4 (box)

If people weren't familiar with the name of Dominic Ficociello, the events that unfolded on Thursday evening against the Harrisburg Senators (62-69) changed that quickly. For the first time since 2014 for the SeaWolves (57-73), Ficociello posted five RBI after cranking not one, but two home runs, taking responsibility for all five runs scored for Erie. Toeing the rubber for Erie, Michael Fulmer (10-3, 2.06 ERA) surrendered four runs and struck out eight to secure the series opener victory, marking his 10th win this season.

Lakeland Flying Tigers 9, Dunedin Blue Jays 8 (box)

The Flying Tigers (50-75) played a little bingo with Dunedin (55-73) as the two clubs combined for 24 hits on the night, kicking off their three-game series on Thursday. Endrys Briceno (1-2, 3.42 ERA) worked the opening 3 1/3 innings for Lakeland, walking four and allowing three runs. Grayson Greiner and Ben Verlander headed up the hit parade combining for six of the 14 Lakeland hits. A solid 3 1/3 innings of relief from Tyler Ford (1-0, 2.03 ERA) and Whit Mayberry (1-3, 1.09 ERA) held the Blue Jays at a distance to secure the win for Lakeland.

West Michigan Whitecaps 7, Lansing Lugnuts 5 (box)

In celebration of Australia Night at Fifth Third Ballpark, the Whitecaps (69-59) had a bit of fun at the plate at the expense of the visiting Lansing Lugnuts (68-60). A.J. Ladwig (11-9, 3.78 ERA) got the start for West Michigan, working 6 1/3 innings and holding Lansing to a pair of runs off six hits in his campaign. Joey Pankake was among three West Michigan players with three hits on the night, with Pankake posting two doubles and scoring two. Christin Stewart posted his third triple on the year as West Michigan notched their third straight victory.

Connecticut Tigers Lowell Spinners (F/12) (box)

Tyler Alexander (0-2, 0.87 ERA) set the bar on the mound for the Tigers in the opening three innings, striking out three and only allowing one run to the Spinners. A pitcher's duel continued into the 12th inning and thanks to a bottom half two-run double off the bat of Corey Baptist, Connecticut closed the night with their first extra-inning victory this season.

★★★

Upcoming Action

Mud Hens: Toledo will wrap their week long split stretch with the Columbus Clippers at Huntington Park on Friday evening. Kyle Ryan (3-9, 4.42 ERA) will have the hill for Toledo in the finale.

SeaWolves: The SeaWolves host the Senators for game two of their home stand as a part of Tigers' Affiliate Day at Jerry Uht Park. Austin Kubitza (8-11, 5.55 ERA) is slated to start for the SeaWolves.

Flying Tigers: Brennan Smith (5-5, 2.96 ERA) will start the night for the Flying Tigers as they face off in game two of their road series with Dunedin.

Whitecaps: In the second segment of their series with the visiting Lansing Lugnuts, right hander Jeff Thompson (6-10, 3.80 ERA) will lead the charge for the Whitecaps at Fifth Third Ballpark.

Tigers: Spenser Watkins (4-4, 2.50 ERA) will head back to work for the Tigers as they face Lowell for game two of their three-game series at home before heading back out on the road.