IL Preview: Toledo MudHens
Toledo is ready to start the 2014 season after a poor showing in 2013. The MudHens finished the 2013 campaign with a 61-83 mark and last in the West Division.
Promotions of Nick Castellanos and the trade of Avisail Garcia will leave the MudHens thin at various positions, but they will have some veteran leadership leading them in 2014.
Pitching: The rotation will be thin. With the trade of Jose Alvarez to the Angels and Doug Fister to the Nationals, the Tigers need help at the major league level. Falling into place will be top pitching prospect Drew VerHagen. The former 4th rounder out of Vanderbilt in 2012 has watched his stock rise in the last two years. Last season, he went 2-5 with a 3.00 ERA in 12 starts for Double-A Erie. He has promising stuff, hurling a mid 90’s fastball, hard sinker and a curveball. He has great dip on his sinker, as his 6-foot, 6-inch frame allows for trajectory on his pitches. Tigers want to keep him in the rotation, but his fastball-sinker combo may be better suited in the bullpen.
One of the bullpen arms that the MudHens will rely on is Melvin Mercedes. With Bruce Rondon out for the season with a torn UCL, Mercedes is the front-runner to close out games for the MudHens. Mercedes tallied 23 saves in 2013 across two different levels, while tossing 50 IP and striking out 36 batters. Mercedes has a high-90’s fastball and mid 80’s slider. He works both pitches on both sides of the plate, but tends to use his fastball up in the zone for the strikeout.
Infield: James McCann and Jordan Lennerton will lead the infield bats. McCann hit .277 (122-for-441) with 30 doubles, one triple, eight homers and 54 RBIs at Double- A Erie, while Lennerton hit .278 (143-for-514) with 25 doubles, one triple, 17 homers and 57 RBIs for Triple-A Toledo. They will be rellied on to supply most of the offense around the horn, as they will be joined by light-hitting Eugenio Suarez and Hernan Perez in the middle of the diamond. Despite their limitations offensively, they both can play solid defense and will help the MudHens pitching staff.
Outfield: The outfielders will have a true leadoff hitter in Ezequiel Carrera. The former Columbus Clipper stole 43 bases in 2013, and has 248 career stolen bases.
Tyler Collins and Daniel Fields will join Carrera in the outfield. Collins, the No. 20 prospect in the Tigers organization is coming off of a solid year in Double-A Erie. He batted .240 (112-for-466) with 29 doubles, 21 homers and 79 RBIs. His homerun output in 2013 surpassed his minor league total for his first two seasons combined. His strikeout percentage increased in 2013, so he will have some work to do in 2014.
Fields doesn’t feature the pop that Collins does, but has a great approach at the plate. He hit .284 (130-for-457) with 27 doubles, six triples, 10 homers and 58 RBIs. He is the No.22 ranked prospect in the Tigers system and can play all three outfield spots.
Schedule: The G-Braves go to Toledo from April 26-29 and Toledo comes to Coolray Field from June 24 through 27.
Projected Depth Chart: