There are some exciting players to watch in Toledo this summer. One of the best hitting prospects Detroit has had in a long time, Nick Castellanos, and 104-mph throwing Bruce Rondon are the Tigers’ top two organizational prospects and both will start the season in Toledo. There are also several former Tigers on this year's roster including: Jose Valverde, Duane Below, Quintin Berry, Luke Putkonen, Jose Ortega, Luis Marte, Danny Worth, and Casey Crosby.
Players To Watch
Quintin Berry: Q, as Rod Allen likes to call him, was nothing but exciting for the Tigers in 2012. He has elite speed and base-running instincts, stealing 21 bases for the Tigers last year without getting caught. He hit for a decent average, .258, and was a standout defensively because of his great speed. The Hens are lucky to have such an exciting and electric player. In 7 minor league seasons, he has stolen 261 bases.
Bruce Rondon: The Tigers' top prospect and future closer, Rondon routinely throws in the 100s and has reached 104. He saved 29 games in the minors last year. Rondon still needs work on his control and secondary pitches, but his time in the minors will likely be short. The 6'3, 275 pound Rondon is a rare, rare talent. Make sure to check out the Tigers' version of Reds standout Aroldis Chapman while you still can.
Nick Castellanos: Drafted in the first round in 2010, Castellanos is viewed by many as the organization’s top prospect. In 2011 he hit .312 with 7 HR and 76 RBI and in 2012 he hit .405 at Lakeland in 215 at bats before getting promoted to Erie. He finished the year hitting .320 with 10 HR and 57 RBI. The 6'4 210 pounder was once a third-baseman, but is now being groomed as a corner outfielder.
Jose Valverde: “Papa Grande” couldn't find a big league team after his playoff collapse. He lost control of his famed splitter and lost five mph on his fastball. He was clearly a proud but injured veteran trying to gut through some problems in the playoffs. He did save 35 of 39 games last year and was having a good year till fatigue set in. Valverde suffers from too many innings or it could be his age, 35. Either way, the Tigers have a no-lose opportunity to see if the offseason rejuvenated his arm. He'll start the year in Toledo and he'll be out to prove something. It will be interested to see how the “Big Potato” responds. At worst, Toledo will get to see some of his famous strikeout dance moves.
Duane Below: He has been up and down with the Tigers and had success in the big leagues. He pitched 46.1 innings for the Tigers in 2012 and was 2-1 with a 3.88 ERA. A victim of a deep pitching staff, The Tigers' loss is the Mud Hens' gain.
Shawn Hill: He has six years of big league experience as a starter and has had some success. He had a 2.61 ERA in 2010 and a 3.42 ERA in the majors in 2007. He was 9-2 last year at Triple A and should be an anchor in the Hens' rotation. He is one of Dave Dombrowski's back-up plans if the Tigers suffer any starting rotation injuries.
Jordan Lennerton: While he's stuck behind Prince Fielder in Detroit. Lennerton has been a consistent power hitting run producer in the minors and should provide some fireworks for the Hens. He hit .269 with 21 HR and 82 RBI's at Double A Erie.