The Detroit Tigers announced on Thursday that they will be assigning Jacob Turner, thier first round pick of the 2009 draft (9th overall), to the West Michigan Whitecaps (Low A). The 18-year-old pitched for the Westminster Christian Academy High School in St. Louis last season. Whitecaps CEO and managing partner Lew Chamberlin told the Grand Rapids Press, “Turner represents the future of the Tigers, and I hope people would want to come out here and see him.” He has had an impressive spring training, and can hopefully keep it up at this level. I hope to get a chance to see him pitch before he’s moved up to Lakeland(high A) or even Erie(AA), which is a possibility.
Also, some former Whitecaps have been on the move this weekend as well. Optioned to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens were outfielders Casper Wells, Brennan Boesch, and Ryan Strieby, as well as right handed pitcher Alfredo Figaro. Infielder Audy Ciriaco was been assigned to Double-A Erie Sea Wolves, while short-stop Gustavo Nunez has been sent to Minor League camp and has not been assigned yet.
Good luck this season to Turner and the West Michigan alumi in the Tigers organization. Looks like it will be an exciting year, especially seeing how Scott Sizemore does at the MLB level in Detroit.
Top photo courtesy of Westminster Christian Academy
Bottom photo property of MIB
No, the AFL I’m refering to isn’t the spectacular Arena Football League that is currently on hiatus. It is the popular Arizona Fall League, where MLB teams send some of thier top prospects for more conditioning. One prospect the Detroit Tigers are keeping a close eye on is second baseban Scott Sizemore. Playing for the Peoria Javelinas, Sizemore has knocked in nine runs in only 15 at bats. Monday he went 3-4 and drove in four runs. The previous two games he hit three home runs. Sizemore is batting an impressive .375
“It’s been awesome,” Sizemore said of playing in Arizona. “Luckily I’ve kinda been getting the taste of it all. I take it the same way I went this season, take every at bat like it’s my last.”
This season splitting time between the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens and the Double-A Erie Seawolves, he hit a combined .308 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI’s. He also represented the Tigers at this years All-Star Futures game where he had a hit and run scored as a late-inning replacement at DH. Sizemore accomplished all of this while battling a sore left wrist after surgery in 2008.
The reason that the Tigers, specifically GM Dave Dombrowski, is so interested in Sizemore’s progress is simple: second baseman Placido Palonco is a free agent. If Detroit fails to re-sign Palanco, they’ll be losing one of the most reliable second baseman in the league. He rarely makes errors, rarely strikes out, and is one of the very few pure hitters in the Tigers line-up. I do give Dombrowski credit for pulling off the trade in 2005 to bring Palanco to Detroit for a pitcher who is currently doing time. Unfortunately, some not-so-spectacular deals and generous contract extentions have painted the Tigers into a financial corner. Too much money is tied up on players like Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson. Team owner Mike Illitch will have to dig deep into his pockets in order to re-sign Placido for next season.
Even if Palonco does return in 2010, it seems that Sizemore is the Tigers second baseman of the future.
“We think he’s ready to play, ” stated Dombrowski.
For the Tigers sake, and yours, Dave, I hope you’re right.
UPDATE: Sizemore broke his ankle on Thursday turning a double play, and will miss the rest of the AFL Season.
Photos courtesy of TigsTown
The Detroit Tigers named Casey Crosby their Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Crosy went 10-4 with a 2.41 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings pitched for the West Michigan Whitecaps this season. In the second half of the season, he went 5-2 with a 0.78 ERA and 49 strikeouts in only 46 innings of work. The 21 year old hurler, had his fastball clocked at 98 mph in this, his first full pro season. Crosby only pitched three games in 2008 before having reconstructive surgery on his left elbow.
“He’s a great kid with a great work ethic, working hard at everything he does,” Whitecaps manager Joe DePastino told the Grand Rapids Press. “He was willing to learn and get better, and he’s very deserving of this award.”
Crosby’s keeping up the Whitecaps tradition of this honor by the Tigers organization. The last four season’s has seen the award handed to a West Michigan pitcher. Jon Kibler won it last season, with Duane Below taking home the honor in 2007 and Burke Badenhop in 2006.
Taking home the award for the Tigers Minor League Player of the Year, is former Whitecap Scott Sizemore (2007). Splitting time between the Erie Seawolves (AA) and Toledo Mud Hens (AAA) he hit .308 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI’s.
Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press