Although most of the players who have associations with the Tigers were playing for the World Champion Boston Red Sox during the month of October, quite a few current Tigers have been staying busy in various off-season leagues. Here we take a look at how they are performing.
Arizona Fall League
The Arizona Fall League has reached the mid-way point in its 30-game season, and the eight Tigers’ prospects who suit up for the Mesa Solar Sox have had mixed results thus far. Daz Cameron has had the most success among position players. In eleven games, Cameron is 12-for-38 (.316) with five stolen bases (in nine attempts). He has also drawn ten walks, resulting in a lofty .879 OPS out of the Solar Sox leadoff spot.
Fellow outfielder Danny Woodrow has posted four multi-hit games in nine starts, but is just three for his last 17. Woodrow’s speed is well-chronicled and has been on display in Arizona, as he has swiped seven bags in as many attempts. The fatal flaw to Woodrow’s game has always been his lack of power, and all ten of his hits this fall have been singles.
Jake Rogers has had a bit of a rough time out west, with just four hits in 25 at-bats (.160) in seven games thus far. Playing so sparingly and irregularly is tough on Rogers in particular, in my estimation, because his timing can easily get thrown off if he’s not seeing live pitching every day. Infielder Danny Pinero is 4-for-19 in limited action.
On the mound, a pair of 2018 Lakeland Flying Tigers, Gregory Soto and Eduardo Jimenez, have been anchors for the Mesa staff. Soto leads the team with four starts and 16 innings logged. He has struck out 15 and walked seven. The highlight for Soto came on October 22nd when he spun five innings of two-hit, shutout ball against the Scottsdale Scorpions to earn the win. Soto was named AFL Pitcher of the Week for the last full week of October.
Jimenez allowed a pair of runs in an outing on October 17th, but his other three appearances have been flawless. Excusing the one shaky outing, Jimenez fanned ten, walked none, and yielded just three hits in six shutout innings in his other three games. Both Soto and Jimenez are entering their age 24 seasons, so it’s nice to see them showing some positive signs against this higher level competition.
On the contrary, the Sandy Baez bullpen transition has continued to be a roller coaster ride. Baez was tattooed for five earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning in his AFL debut. He bounced back in his next outing, but just can’t seem to string together solid efforts. Baez has logged 5 1⁄3 innings, giving up nine earned runs on 11 hits with a pair of long balls allowed. Opponents are hitting .423 against him.
Reliever John Schreiber has pitched five innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits, with seven strikeouts and three walks. Schreiber is working hard on his new change-up grip with pitching coach Jorge Cordova, and reports much better action than his previous version of the pitch. He is also developing a two-seamer that is starting to show some run and improved command in his bullpen sessions.
The Mesa Solar Sox sit at 8-8, tied with Scottsdale, and just one game behind the Salt River Rafters for first place in the East Division. An all-star game, called the Fall Stars Game, will be played on Saturday, November 3rd. On November 17, the top teams in each division will meet in the AFL Championship Game.
Dominican Winter League
Several members of the Tigers’ organization are making their fall and winter homes in the Dominican Republic, most notably Daniel Norris. As one would expect, the 25-year old lefty has been overpowering in his three appearances for Águilas Cibaeñas, who are currently tied for the best record in La Liga de Béisbol de la Repüblica Dominicana, also known as the Dominican Winter League.
Norris has thrown 14 2⁄3 innings, allowing just three earned runs on 11 hits, whiffing 12 and walking just four. Perhaps his best outing was on October 19th when Norris worked 5 2⁄3 innings of one-hit, shutout ball against Toros del Este.
With three starts under his belt, Norris now heads to Japan as part of an MLB “All-Star” delegation set to play exhibitions against a Nippon League All-Star team. He should throw at least two games on that tour before shutting it down for the year.
Willi Castro has done nothing but rake since coming over to the Tigers’ organization in the Leonys Martin deal at the deadline. Castro is hitting .311 with a pair of homers and an .844 OPS through 12 games with Escogido, including a 4-for-4 effort on October 26th against Toros Del Este. The knock on Castro has been his aggressive approach at the plate. He hasn’t done much to silent critics in that area this fall, drawing just a pair of walks in 47 plate appearances.
Grayson Greiner made just one start for Leones del Escogido before being diagnosed with a bone chip in his throwing wrist that required surgery. The procedure is relatively minor, with a three to four week recovery time. He should have no trouble with his offseason workout schedule and is expected to be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland next February.
- Norris’s Aguilas teammate, 1B Edwin Espinal, is out to just a 6-for-43 (.140) start in his Dominican at-bats.
- Outfield prospect Jacob Robson played in seven games for Estrellas Orientales before picking up a virus that has kept him out of action since October 22nd. Robson had been 6-for-25 (.240) in seven contests before getting sick.
Venezuelan Winter League
Even more Tigers are playing in the Liga Venezuela Béisbol Profesional, or Venezuelan Winter League. Perhaps nobody is having a better follow-up to the regular season than Herlis Rodriguez. Representing Águilas del Zulia, Rodriguez is 15-for-38 (.395) with two doubles, two triples, two homers, and 11 runs scored. He’s our Mr. October.
Alfred Gutierrez has four consecutive shutout appearances in relief, and has allowed just two earned runs in eight innings overall from Bravos de Margarita.
Liarvis Breto and Hunter Cervenka are both lacing them up for Caribes de Anzoátegui. Breto is being used as a true lefty specialist, appearing in seven games but logging just 2 1⁄3 innings of work. He’s yet to be charged with a run, allowing just one hit, no walks, and two strikeouts. Cervenka, a 28-year-old journeyman with 48 major league innings under his belt, is serving in a similar capacity. The lefty has just 3 1⁄3 innings in his six appearances. He’s allowed four hits, but three of them came in a single outing on October 14th when he didn’t record a single out.
- Everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) Rule 5 pick, Victor Reyes, is 7-for-21 playing for Leones del Caracas. To no one’s surprise, all seven of those hits have been singles. As of press time, Bless You Boys has not been able to obtain any exit velocity figures from the VWL.
- Infielder Anthony Pereira is 4 for 13 for Navegantes del Magallanes.
- Finally, lefty Eudis Idrogo has made six relief appearances for Tiburones de la Guaira. Idrogo has just 2—2/3 innings in those six outings, and has twice entered and exited without recording a single out. Overall, he’s allowed two earned runs on three hits, with four strikeouts, and four walks.
- Sources have confirmed to BYB that infielder Isaac Paredes is set to begin winter ball in the Mexican Winter League (Liga Mexicana del Pacifico) in November.