For years they’ve been saying baseball is becoming a global game, a great example that it’s now a reality is this year’s Toledo Mud Hens. Of the 28 players expected to be on the opening day roster, nearly half, 13 of them came from outside the U.S. This year’s diverse group features players from The Dominican Republic (4), Canada (3), Venezuela (2), Australia (2), Puerto Rico (1), and Taiwan (1). It shows not only the efforts of baseball to expand the game globally, but also the focus of the Detroit Tigers’ scouting department.
They also have a good mix of experience and prospects. Thirteen players have Major League experience. Andrew Oliver will start the year in the Hens rotation. A former second round pick, he is rated as the Tigers number two prospect by most publications.
The starting rotation features four left-handed prospects worth following: Andrew Oliver (Toledo, 3-4, 3.23 ERA; Duane Below, (Double A, 7-12, 4.93 ERA); Adam Wilk (Single A, 9-5, 3.01 ERA); and Charlie Furbush (Toledo, 3-4, 6.29 ERA). The Tigers have been in need of a left-handed starter for some time. That’s the reason they converted Phil Coke back to a starter. They will be following these four closely.
Thad Weber (Double A, 9-12, 4.08 ERA) is the lone righty in the rotation at this point. As the year rolls on Brooks Brown (Disabled list, Double A, 12-9, 4.15 ERA) and Ramon Garcia (Double A, 0-5, 5.25) may get a chance to start.
Zach Simons (Double A, 3-4, 2.36 ERA), Brandon Wise (Toledo, 4-2, 2.08 ERA), Chris Oxspring (injured), Fu Te Ni (Detroit, 0-1, 6.65 ERA), Al Alburquerque, (Double A, 2-4, 4.98 ERA) Jose Ortega (Disabled list, Double A, 1-0, 3.04 ERA), and Matt Hoffman (Double A, 1-2, 7.43 ERA) will round out the bullpen.
The line up will look like this: Scott Sizemore (2b, Toledo, .298, 9 HR, 37 RBI), Timo Perez (LF, Alburquerque, .296, 2 HR, 10 RBI), Andy Dirks (RF, Toledo, .375, 4 HR, 17 RBI), Ryan Strieby (1B, Toledo, .245, 10 HR, 49 RBI), Scott Thorman (DH, Omaha, .280 22 HR, 85 RBI), Danny Worth (3B, Detroit, .255, 2 HR, 8 RBI), Clete Thomas (CF, Toledo, .183, 4 HR, 13 RBI), Cale Iorg (SS, Toledo, .242, 1 HR , 9 RBI), John Murrian (C, Single A, .264, 4 HR, 21 RBI).
Sizemore, a top prospect and Perez should both hit for average at the top of the line up. There’s also considerable power in the middle with Dirks, Strieby and Thorman. All three have the potential to hit 20 plus homers and Dirks also has some speed stealing 22 bases last year.
Clay Timpner (OF, Double A, .290, 4 HR, 51 RBI), Argenis Diaz (IF, Pittsburg, .242, 0 HR, 2 RBI), Jeff Kunkel (C, Double A, .261, 4 HR, 17 RBI) will come off the bench.
There is some potential here, but I don’t see the talent level needed to win the IL. However, there’s enough to assure there will be good baseball this summer at Fifth Third Field. The Hens should still be a winning team and contend.