The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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This year’s Muddies should have plenty of offense to go with the weekend post game fireworks. This prospect-filled squad will feature four of the Tigers’ top 10 future stars. Daniel Schlereth (Acquired from Arizona in the Edwin Jackson trade), Casper Wells, Robbie Weinhardt, and Ryan Strieby should bring the Hens success and excitement.

Starting Rotation: As long as they don’t get thinned out by Tiger call ups, the starting rotation is greatly improved over last year. Ruddy Lugo was Toledo’s most reliable starter last year going 13-9 with a 4.07 ERA. Phil Dumatrait is coming off an injury plagued 2009. He was a former first round pick of the Red Sox and spent the last two seasons in the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen. Armando Galarraga has become the forgotten man in Detroit. In 2008 he was the surprise of baseball winning 13 games, posting a 3.73 ERA and finishing 4th in the rookie of the year voting. But, last year was a struggle, going 6-10 with a 5.64 ERA. Expect him to rebound at Triple A.  Enrique Gonzalez, a Triple A veteran, has been waived and released by several teams, most recently Boston. He spent most of last season at Pawtucket and pitched well for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Alfredo Figaro pitched at Double A Erie and was twice named Player of the Week before getting called up to the Tigers and going 2-2 with a  6.35 ERA. Grade B

Bullpen: The excitement coming out of the bullpen is former 1st Round pick Daniel Schlereth. After just one year in the minors, he spent time with Arizona last year going 1-3 with a 5.89 ERA. He pitched 18.1 innings, allowing only 15 hits to go with 22 strikeouts, but his 15 walks plagued the youngster. His career minor league ERA is 1.13 and he has 60 strikeouts in just 39.2 innings. He was named the 5th best prospect in the Tigers organization.  He will team with fellow lefty Jason Waddell, who came over from the Triple A Iowa Cubs, to quiet down left handed hitters. Four Hens relievers return from last year: Josh Rainwater (1-3, 5.76 ERA), Jay Sborz (1-0, 2.25), Casey Fien (2-1, 3.41), and Scott Drucker (8-3, 4.78 ERA). Sborz is a 245 pound power pitcher. Robbie Weinhardt started last season and Single A giving up only 3 runs in 31.2 innings. He then progressed to Double A Erie where he finished with a 2.30 ERA in 31.1 innings. He led the Arizona fall league, which featured Number one pick Steve Strasburg, in strikeouts. He was named the Tigers 2nd best prospect by Baseball America after the season. Grade B+

Outfield: There are big time expectations in the outfield. Casper Wells (.260, 15 HR) and 6’6 Ryan Strieby (.303, 19 HR) are two of the organizations best prospects and are expected to take over for the Tigers when aging veterans Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez move on. Let’s not forget about 6’6 Brennan Boesch, who led the Tigers organization in power numbers with a .275 average, 28 homers and 93 RBIs in Double A Erie. Clete Thomas is also in the mix. Thomas has had some success with the Tigers, but he was unable to stick with the club this spring despite hitting .389. He hit .240 with 7 HR and 39 RBI’s with the Tigers. Let’s not forget Jeff Frazier, who hit .308 with 11 HR and 54 RBI for the Mud Hens. The Tigers are stacked with outfield prospects, lucky Mud Hens. Expect at least one of these guys to see extended time with the Tigers this year. Grade A+

Infield: The two to watch on the infield are Brent Dlugach and Jeff Larish. Dlugach (SS/2B/3B) was an International League All-Star hitting .294 with 9 HR and 59 RBI for the Hens. Larish (1B/3B) started the year with The Tigers and was up and down before ending with wrist surgery. Larish has a lot of power and had 21 HR and 64 RBI’s for the Hens in 2008. Danny Worth (2B/SS/3B) was selected in the second round of the 2007 draft. He struggled in limited time with the Hens last year hitting .212 with 0 Hr and 4 RBI in 151 at bats. On the other hand, Max Leon (3B/2B/1B) was the 1472nd pick in the 2004 draft. Leon hit .256 at Double A Erie, but only .161 in 31 at bats after a late season call up to the Hens. Slick fielding fan favorite Will Rhymes, all 5’9, and 165 pounds of him, is back with the Hens after hitting .260, with 3 HR, 41 RBI and 20 SB. Robinzon Diaz and Mike Rabelo will split time behind the plate. Both have seen part time action in the majors and should provide the young pitching staff with some vet
eran experience. Grade C 

Overall: So much will depend on the Tigers success and injury report, but the Hens have a great deal of talent and should be contenders in the West. Defense is  a strength but I’m a little worried about the consistency of the offense and the inexperience of the bullpen, but the Muddies will find a way. 76-66, 2nd Place in the West. 

 

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