Triple-A Trickledown: Toledo
After splitting a four-game set with Columbus, the Chiefs are staying in Ohio to take on the Toledo Mud Hens. After an 8-5 win last night took 3 hours and 15 minutes, you might feel like you’re somewhat situated with Toledo already, but let’s take a look at the Hens’ roster in our latest examination of an IL roster…
Catcher: Bryan Holaday, Omir Santos
Alex Avila, Detroit’s regular catcher, is off to a slow start offensively. But the guy who started last season’s All-Star game for the American League might not be in danger of losing his job this early on in the season. Backup Gerald Laird has been a steady second-stringer, likely leaving Santos and Holaday in Triple-A for the foreseeable future. But look out for 22-year old Rob Brantly, who’s hitting .326 with 13 doubles and three home runs in Double-A.
First Base: Brad Eldred, Ryan Strieby
Eldred has been destroying Triple-A pitching for a good chunk of the year, leading the league in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage by wide margins. But even after a quick promotion to Detroit this season, the Tigers designated Eldred for assignment, removing him from the 40-man roster. It doesn’t seem likely he’d jump back on the 40-man unless there’s a rash of injuries. Strieby’s a similar player to Eldred – big power numbers, heaps of strikeouts – but he’s struggled so far this season. (Oh, by the way…Prince Fielder plays first base for the big league team.)
Second Base: Eric Patterson
Patterson has 228 games and five seasons of major league experience, so he’d be a logical choice for promotion if Detroit needed an infielder. However, he’s posted just a .217 average and .294 on-base percentage in that major league time, so the Tigers might look elsewhere for an infield solution…but, that being said, the Tigers may not have much of a choice soon. Their two second baseman this year – Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn – are hitting .183 and .148, respectively. Raburn’s going to get most of the reps at the position, but if the Tigers’ regulars can’t crack the Mendoza Line, Detroit may soon look elsewhere.
Shortstop: Argenis Diaz, Danny Worth
Here’s another guy who could help Detroit in the major leagues – Worth, who, incredibly is the ONLY Toledo position player on the 40-man roster. 24 of the Tigers’ 40-man players are pitchers, a number which likely has to change at some point, but is quite bloated as of now. Worth, however, was just 3 for 17 with Detroit this season, so the Tigers may not be rushing to call him back up. Diaz, hitting just .222 without an extra-base hit in 28 games, still has plenty of time to develop at age 25, but this year might not be his year for promotion.
Third Base: Audy Ciriaco, Justin Henry
Let’s get this out of the way first: Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers’ third baseman, and he’ll be staying put unless there’s an injury, thank you very much. So Ciriaco and Henry would be best served in the majors as utility guys, a role Henry’s quite well-suited to. The 26-year-old can play just about every position on the diamond, and though he lacks power, he’s an on-base and stolen base machine. The 24-year-old Ciriaco seems to have a number of good tools, but he’s hitting just .219/.260/.373 this season.
Outfield: Quintin Berry, Jeff Frazier, Matt Young
The Tigers are in good shape here, with Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks performing well in the major leagues and Brennan Boesch starting to heat up. There’s also Delmon Young, who’s just returned from suspension, although that’s a question mark for the Tigers. If there’s a backup spot to be had with the major league team, perhaps Young gets a shot. The 5’8 29-year-old doesn’t look like the most imposing player, but he’s currently second in the International League in walks and third in on-base-percentage, while hitting a solid .282. Young, who signed with the Braves as an undrafted free agent, has certainly had to overcome plenty of odds throughout his baseball career, and if he keeps on getting on base, it might be tough for Detroit to say no. Frazier, the former Chief, and Berry seem likely to spend the season here with Toledo.
Starting Pitchers: Casey Crosby, Andrew Oliver, Jacob Turner, Thad Weber, Adam Wilk
Remember what we said about only one of the Mud Hens’ position players being on the 40-man roster? (In case you don’t, just scroll up the page.) Well, here’s a situation with a polar opposite. All five of Toledo’s current starters are members of the 40-man roster, with the Tigers able to call up any of the arms at a moment’s notice. Of course, with a rotation of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and rookie sensation Drew Smyly (2.89 ERA) – good luck cracking that group. The 24-year-old Wilk is the lone member of the five to start for Detroit this season, but he’s 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in three starts, while Weber has allowed 10 hits in four innings in a pair of relief appearances. The next shot might go to the 20-year-old Turner, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft, who tossed a few games for the Tigers in 2011.
Relief Pitchers: Chris Bootcheck, Brooks Brown, Darin Downs, Matt Hoffman, Zach Miner, Jose Ortega, Ryan Robowski, Rob Waite
Hoffman and Ortega, a pair of 23-year-olds, are the two 40-man players here. However, Ortega, who does throw about one thousand miles per hour, likely needs some seasoning before a promotion to the major leagues. Exhibit A: his 0.2 inning, three-walk performance against Syracuse last night. Hoffman’s allowed 16 hits and 11 runs in 8.1 innings, so he’s likely not next in line for a call up, either. Former major leaguer Chris Bootcheck’s pitched well for Toledo, but he hasn’t tossed in the majors since 2009, and he had double-digit ERAs in three of his last four seasons. So…I don’t know what the answer is here, either. One other option could be Tyler Stohr, a 26-year-old who’s posted a 1.13 ERA in six Double-A games, but is on the 40-man roster. (Why is he in Double-A? Who knows.)
That’s all for now…be sure to tune in today at 2:00 for the Chiefs and Mud Hens in the second of a four-game series. We’re on the air at 1:45 for the start of the pregame show.