Results tagged ‘ Lakeland Flying Tigers ’

Notable Quotables: Detroit Tigers Organization All-Stars

By Ashley Marshall

During my research and selection of the best performing players in the Detroit Tigers organization, I spent a lot of time on the phone with the team’s director of player development Dave Owens.

You can read the full article and position-by-position picks here:

And here are some more thoughts and observations from Owens, including what he had to say about Nick Castellanos’ ceiling, Eugenio Suarez’s defense and his first impressions on 2013 Draft pick Corey Knebel.

Owens on Jordan Lennerton’s all-around game:

“[He’s] another guy that had a very nice year for us. He went to the Futures Game and he’s a very, very solid defensive first baseman. He’s not afraid to stay within himself. He really knows the strike zone and his ability. He laid off pitches this year and showed he could take a walk.”

Owens on Devon Travis’ development:

“Devon has the ability to show some pop if it’s in the right place and he shows up every day to play. He’s a baseball player. He grinds out at-bats and doesn’t give at-bats away. He plays the game like you want to see it played. He was a really fun guy to watch this year and we expect him to continue his journey and hopefully see him in Detroit.”

Owens on the defensive growth made by Wade Gaynor:

“I think he won the Rawlings Gold Glove out of all the third basemen in Minor League Baseball, so that’s a nice package. Ever since I first saw Wade, he’s been a very solid defender. At times, he can have a long arm action on double plays, but he’s working very earnestly to correct that and he has gotten better. He’s one of those young men that understands there are two sides of the ball, offensively and defensively. The nights he may struggle offensively, he’s making the plays on defense.”

Owens on Eugenio Suarez’s ability in the field:

“I know he made some errors, but he’s really growing as a young infielder. Most of his errors were throwing errors and he’s working on being more consistent with his arm slot. He’s a very talented young man that has the ability to play the middle of the field and his bat will be a very nice addition. The errors will come down as he matures as a defender. Sometimes he’ll hold on to a ball that, in the past, he might have thrown away trying to make a play, but you never want to take that aggressiveness away from him. He’ll learn and calm that down on his own as he continues to get experience in the field.”

Owens on catching prospect James McCann:

“I see him as a very good defensive catcher, but I also see him as a guy who’s not an automatic out either. He’s going to give you good at-bats and as he continues to grow and mature with the understanding of his swing and learning to stay on breaking pitches the other way, he’s going to be a guy who will be OK at the plate too. He’s a gap-to-gap guy. He’ll show you a little pop every now and then, but he’s a doubles guy who will drive in some runs.”

Owens on Nick Castellanos’ potential:

“His best years are in front of him. We sure like where he is right now. He got a little bit of experience in Detroit when he got called up in September, so we’re expecting Nick to have a nice offseason and come to Spring Training next year. We really like Nick. He’s done some good things at a young age and we’re really excited about the future. He can be a guy that really does some damage and drive in some runs. He will eventually have power down the road and he has a great body that he’s growing into. He’ll add more strength and weight as he matures and he will hit in the middle of the order and do some good things for the team.”

Owens on 2013 Draft pick Corey Knebel:

“He has four pitches and the mentality of a closer. His makeup is off the chart, and right now, he has two plus pitches in his curveball and his fastball. It’s just a matter of us as an organization seeing how we want to use him in the future and let him go. It’s just a matter of him getting experience. His changeup is good. He has a feel for it and he’s learning to mix it in, a slider too. He’s a kid that is very smart and he has the mentality to be a closer if we decide to leave him there. It’s a great pick is what it is.”

Owens on right-hander Wilsen Palacios:

“We want him pitching to contact, but he’s got the ability to have that swing-and-miss too. He’s a very interesting young man. You can’t be afraid of contact. So if you pitch to contact, good things will happen. The guys behind you get paid to do a job too. As these young men mature and get experience, they understand that more. Being with Mike Maroth this summer has helped him and helped him with his split. He had a solid year, we expect good things out of him.”

Ten first-half climbers: Florida State League

By Jonathan Raymond

We’re about halfway through the Minor League season, so we’re going to start identifying 10 prospects from each full-season league who significantly improved their stock through the first half of the Minor League season. By the very nature of already being highly ranked within their organizations, it’s hard for top-10 prospects to do much more climbing, so we’ll stick to prospects that were either ranked outside their team’s top 10 — as rated before the season by’s Jonathan Mayo – or who went unranked entirely.

1. Nick Kingham, SP (Bradenton Marauders) — 2010 Draft, 4th round, Pirates No. 12

What he did: 6-3, 3.09 ERA, 75 K/14 BB in 70 innings. Kingham definitely made the strongest impression of any arm in the FSL in the first half, registering more than a strikeout an inning and notching more than five times as many punchouts as walks. The 21-year-old also happened to lead the league in WHIP, clocking in at 0.99.

Where he might rank now: He’s easily vaulted into the top 10. Whether he can inch close to the top 5 will depend on how he fares at Double-A Altoona, where he’s taking the mound every five days now.

MiLB: MAY 08 Bradenton Marauders at Dunedin Blue Jays

2. Stephen Piscotty, RF (Palm Beach Cardinals) — 2012 Draft, 1st round, 36th overall, Cardinals No. 14

What he did: .292/.348/.477, 9 HR, 2 3B, 14 2B, 35 RBIs in 63 games. Piscotty was noted for his advanced bat coming out of Stanford in last year’s Draft, and so far he’s lived up to the billing. He only struck out 27 times, least among FSL batting qualifiers, before a promotion to Double-A Springfield.

Where he might rank now: Again, his performance in the Texas League will dictate how high he can rise, but the latter half of the St. Louis top 10 is well within reach.

MiLB: JUN 03 Class A Advanced - Palm Beach Cardinals at Tampa Yankees

3. Ben Wells, SP (Daytona Cubs) — 2010 Draft, 7th round, Cubs unranked

What he did: 6-6, 3.32 ERA, 56 K/27 BB in 86 2/3 innings. At 20, he’s been one of the youngest arms in the league while turning in one of the more complete performances. The right-hander ranks 11th in ERA and has a better than 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio while maintaining a pretty low 2.80 BB/9.

Where he might rank now: If he can pick up the strikeout rate (currently just 5.82 K/9) by the end of the year, he could wind up somewhere like 13-15.


4. Kelly Dugan, RF (Clearwater Threshers) — 2009 Draft, 2nd round, Phillies unranked

What he did: .318/.401/.539, 10 HR, 12 2B, 36 RBIs in 56 games. Dugan did pretty much everything well for the Threshers, hitting for a nice average, posting an OBP over .400 and registering a slugging percentage well north of .500. The 22-year-old has solidified the gains he made last year with Class A Lakewood, where he hit .300/.387/.470 in 117 games.

Where he might rank now: I could see him working his way into the top 15, especially if he gets an extended shot with Double-A Reading.

MiLB: May 04 - Clearwater Threshers at Tampa Yankees

5. Andy Burns, 3B (Dunedin Blue Jays) — 2011 Draft, 11th round, Blue Jays unranked

What he did: .327/.383/.524, 8 HR, 5 3B, 15 2B, 53 RBIs, 21 steals in 30 tries in 64 games. The 22-year-old had one of the more impressive overall offensive seasons in the first half of the FSL, ranking fifth in average (just behind Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario) and showing much improved bat control. He walked 38 times and had 75 strikeouts in 278 at-bats with Class A Lansing last year, while this season he has 25 walks to 38 strikeouts in 248 at-bats.

Where he might rank now: Without getting too carried away by his average, he could figure somewhere like 17 or 18.

MiLB: June 18 - Dunedin Blue Jays at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)

6. Kennys Vargas, 1B (Fort Myers Miracle) — 2009 international signing, Twins unranked

What he did: .299/.375/.536, 13 HR, 24 2B, 62 RBIs in 76 games. Vargas showed some underrated power, overshadowed on a team that was headlined by the likes of Sano, Rosario and Angel Morales. The 22-year-old sits sixth in homers and slugging percentage, and he appears to finally be healthy after not having played in more than 44 games in any of his first four seasons.

Where he might rank now: He might not quite be able to crack the Minnesota top 20 just yet — it’s a pretty stacked system — but if he can prove his health, he might have a decent shot at the tail end of the top 20.

MiLB: MAY 21 Ft. Myers Miracle at Lakeland Flying Tigers

7. Robert Refsnyder, 2B (Tampa Yankees) — 2012 Draft, 5th round, Yankees unranked

What he did: .288/.408/.428, 3 HR, 2 3B, 19 2B, 23 RBIs, 8 steals in 10 tries in 63 games. He hasn’t had a lot of time to make an impression since he was drafted last year, but New York has to be happy with the maturity of the 22-year-old Arizona product’s approach. He only needed 13 games in the Sally League before a promotion (he hit .370/.452/.481) and in the FSL he’s walked exactly as many times as he’s struck out (40). The little bit of home run and doubles power is a nice development, and he’s also proved to be a nice base stealer.

Where he might rank now: Double-A is well-known to be the toughest proving ground for prospects, so, like a lot of his peers in the FSL, how he eventually fares there will truly tell how big an impact he can make on the Yankees’ top 20, but for now I’d say he’s earned a spot in the back, 15-20 range.

MiLB: MAY 17 Class A Advanced - Tampa Yankees at Dunedin Blue Jays

8. Aaron Altherr, CF (Clearwater) — 2009 Draft, 9th round, Phillies No. 20

What he did: .295/.361/.518, 9 HR, 5 3B, 25 2B, 50 RBIs, 15 steals in 18 tries in 72 games. The 22-year-old’s approach still needs some development (93 strikeouts in 278 at-bats), but he’s clearly got good speed and decent pop. The 6-foot-5 center fielder is in the midst of a breakout year after posting a .630 OPS in 112 games in 2011 and a .722 OPS in 110 games last season.

Where he might rank now: There’s a good chance he’ll rank somewhere right alongside Dugan in the top 20, in that 13-17 kind of range.

Aaron Altherr - Ken Inness/

9. Wilsen Palacios, SP (Lakeland Flying Tigers) — 2006 international signing, Tigers unranked

What he did: 3-6, 3.90 ERA, 77 K/26 BB in 83 innings. The 6-foot-3 right-hander tied with Hoby Milner for the league lead in strikeouts and kept his walks reasonably low. His K/9 clocked in at 8.35 and his BB/9 was 2.82.

Where he might rank now: At the risk of sounding too repetitive, Double-A will be the big barometer for the 23-year-old Venezuelan. For now, he’s probably a fringier candidate for top 20, just outside looking in.


10. Shane Greene, SP (Tampa) — 2009 Draft, 15th round, Yankees unranked

What he did: 4-6, 3.60 ERA, 69 K/10 BB in 75 innings. The 24-year-old was a little bit older than his peers, but he struck out nearly a batter an inning (8.28 K/9) and his strikeout-to-walk ratio was just about seven-to-one. He managed both those feats while ranking within the top 15 in the league in ERA.

Where he might rank now: A pretty similar case to Palacios, in that right now he’s probably not quite right within the top 20 just yet, but, of course, a nice stint in Double-A could change things.

MiLB: APR 12 - Daytona Cubs at Tampa Yankees

Catching up with Under-the-Radar prospects

By Robert Emrich

At the start of the season, the staff at MiLB put together their preseason picks for prospects in each Minor League full-season league who were considered under-the-radar. Any player not in a MLB organization’s top 10 prospects according to was eligible. One month into the season, it’s time to see where those picks stand.

Alex Colome, Durham Bulls: Colome has been as good as advertised (or unadvertised depending on your view) for the Bulls. Though the 24-year-old right-hander was just 1-3 in April,  he leads the club with a 2.28 ERA through the season’s first month and limited International League hitters to a .200 average. On April 11 he picked up his first Triple-A win with six scoreless innings and took the Triple-A lead with his double-digit strikeout performance Monday vs. Lehigh Valley.


Alex Colome won his first Triple-A game on April 12 for Durham. (Al Drago/Durham Herald-Sun)

Chase Anderson, Reno Aces: Anderson has struggled in his first trip through the Pacific Coast League. He allowed 24 runs — 19 earned — in five April starts, and though he fanned 23 batters, he’s also yielded 35 hits, including four homers, in 27 1/3 innings.

Nik Turley, Trenton Thunder: Turley’s first two Eastern League starts did not go well (he allowed nine earned runs combined), but the California native showed signs of turning it around.  Over his last three starts in April, he allowed six earned runs while notching a pair of wins for the Thunder.

Stefen Romero, Tacoma Rainiers: Romero skipped right over Double-A after a five-game stint in Class A Advanced High Desert. He hit in eight of the nine games he’s played in the season’s first month with the Tacoma Rainiers and batted .324 with five extra-base hits through that time frame.

Domingo Santana, Corpus Christi Hooks: Though his average sat at .241 in April, Santana showed the power that put him on this list, going deep three times and smacking five doubles in 16 Texas League games. He also posted a healthy .343 on-base percentage and stole three bases.

Clayton Blackburn, San Jose Giants: Blackburn is another player that has been as good as advertised early on, going 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in five California League starts through the end of April. He racked up 33 strikeouts in 28 innings while allowing just 25 baserunners.

Keury De La Cruz, Salem Red Sox: The 21-year-old outfielder had an uneven first month, batting .256 while posting a .706 OPS for the Red Sox. He did drive in 19 runs in 22 games and stole five bases.

Steven Moya, Lakeland Flying Tigers: Moya played five games before succumbing to an arm injury. He has not played a game since April 9 and was batting .238 at the time of the injury.

Dan Vogelbach, Kane County Cougars: Vogelbach began to heat up as the season’s first month came to a conclusion, going yard in each of the final three games of April. He finished the month batting .315 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 22 games for the Cougars.

C.J.  Edwards, Hickory Crawdads: Edwards has been just about lights out early on, holding South Atlantic League hitters to a .176 average in April and not allowing a homer this season. He was also 1-1 while compiling a 1.93 ERA for the Crawdads.

Interview Outtakes: Tigers Prospect, Could-be-closer Bruce Rondon Answers Eight Extra Questions will publish our Q&A with Tigers could-be-closer Bruce Rondon in the next week or so. In the interim, the’s No. 92 prospect (bio, stats here) shared eight thoughts (below) that didn’t make it into the story. Thanks to Detroit official Aileen Villarreal for translating Rondon’s Spanish. Enjoy.

(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

  1. On his favorite 2012 season highlight: “Saving 29 games. It was amazing because my goal was to save 20 and I saved 29. I couldn’t believe it. It was a real blessing.”

    (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

    (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

  2. On how he spent his offseason aside from playing in the Venezuelan Winter League: “I spent a lot of time with my family. I took them shopping, we went to the beach a lot. My workouts were early during the day, so I had the whole rest of the day to spend with them so it was great. Baseball isn’t easy because sometimes your family needs your support and love even when you’re far away. I always miss them a lot and it isn’t easy, but like I used to tell my mom, this is what I wanted and I was going to accomplish it.”
  3. On his first big league Spring Training: “It has been the best thing in my life so far, being next to all these big leaguers that I had never even dreamed of being next to. They talk to you like you’re the same as them,and I tell myself, ‘Wow, I haven’t even pitched a game in the Majors yet.’ They talk to you like you’re their equal, and it is really special and I give them many thanks for that.”
  4. On what he has learned from veteran Tigers pitchers during camp: “You know pitching in the big leagues isn’t just about pitching. Sometimes it’s about your character, sometimes about talking to the media, when things are going bad, when they’re good. In the clubhouse with the rules, that you have to respect to be respected. All those things, how to go dressed to the stadium, being prompt to practice, et cetera. Those are some of the things they’ve helped me with, and I’d like to thank them because sometimes you get to a team and nobody helps you with anything — you kind of have to learn on your own. This team is united. It is like a family, and that is a great thing.”
  5. On his scouting report of teammate/friend/fellow prospect/countryman Avisail Garcia“Him and I have played a lot together. He’s always been with me and helped me with different things. I’d like to thank him for that because he’s been a great friend to me and to a lot of other guys on the team. I have nothing bad to say about him because he has been a great guy.”

    (Paul Nelson/Toledo Mud Hens)

    (Paul Nelson/Toledo Mud Hens)

  6. On his best friend in the Tigers organization: “Since I came to the United States, actually since I was in Venezuela, Jose Ortega. We’ve come up together from the bottom. We’ve both been working very hard for our families, and now we’re both here trying to accomplish what we’ve been working hard for.”
  7. On the best hitter he’s faced in the Minors: “Like I say, there aren’t small or big enemies because everyone is batting against you. All of them to me are difficult. If I get too comfortable with one, he can hit a homer off me. That’s why I come out and see all of them as the best hitter and come out to pitch the way I come out to pitch because you can’t get too comfortable in the ninth inning. That’s when the errors come. You have to come out aggressive like always and not get too comfortable or overconfident whether he’s small or big, strong or skinny, it doesn’t matter who it is, I see them all the same.”
  8. On his goals for the 2013 season: “My goal is to work hard, to keep working hard, and not stop working hard. If you ease up and take thing for granted, that’s when the problems come. I don’t want to stop working. I know things right now aren’t as I would want them, but I know I’ll get through it.”

Prospect Uniformed: Tigers Outfielder Nick Castellanos in Every Minor League Jersey He’s Worn

Thanks to his .405 batting average in half a season last year at Class A Advanced Lakeland,’s No. 10 overall prospect Nick Castellanos made his Double-A debut at age 20. To smooth his path to the Majors, the Tigers switched him from third base to the outfield. Given that effort to keep his bat moving up the system — and Detroit’s historic aggressiveness for pushing prospects — it’s expected that Castellanos will play at Triple-A Toledo in 2013. The Mud Hens would be his fifth pro team. Here are the previous four, in a gallery.

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