Tigers minor-league report: Elvin Rodriguez, Jacob Robson impressing at Erie

Detroit News

A look at how Tigers minor-leaguers are faring two weeks into their 2021 season.

Triple-A Toledo

Who’s hot …

Cole Peterson, SS: Peterson’s been a habitual hitter since the Mud Hens got their 2021 schedule rolling. He’s batting .333, with an .846 OPS, all while playing a solid shortstop. Peterson bats left-handed, is 5-foot-11, 160 pounds, and in 2017 was a 13th-round grab from St. Bonaventure.

Derek Hill, CF: Hill had a splendid Sunday — 3-for-5, with his second home run of the young season. Hill, of course, has all-world grace on defense and was a first-round Tigers pick in 2014, 23rd overall.

Victor Reyes, OF: No surprise, perhaps, that Reyes — who broke camp with the Tigers — is doing fine at Toledo: .346, and a .956 OPS since he was returned to Triple A.

And who’s not …

Matt Manning, RH starter: Just hasn’t been in any kind of sustained groove in three starts, spanning 12⅔ innings. Manning’s been socked for 14 hits, eight of which have been home runs. On the plus side, which figures to gain steam this spring, Manning has struck out 14 and walked four.

Manning, of course, was the Tigers’ first-round pick in 2016, the No. 9 overall choice.

Double-A Erie

Who’s hot …

In two starts at Erie, Elvin Rodriguez has struck out 14 and hasn't given up a run in nine innings.

Elvin Rodriguez, RH starter: He had quite the evening Wednesday against Akron: Five perfect innings — no hits, no walks, eight strikeouts. Rodriguez, who turned 23 in March, is 6-3, 160, and has been regarded as one of the farm’s up-and-comers since the Tigers got him in 2017 as part of their trade that sent Justin Upton to the Angels.

“Great outing,” said Dave Littlefield, the Tigers’ head of player development, who was on hand. “Fastball (91-93), curveball, change-up — and a real smooth delivery. Got a chance to be a good one as he throws even more strikes.”

Jacob Robson, OF: He has had a nifty first dozen games: .425 batting average, .574 on-base percentage, .775 slugging, good for a 1.349 OPS. Robson, as the Tigers acknowledge, has no business at Double A. He would be at Erie were it not for a sudden glut of outfielders there. It’s likely he’ll be advancing soon — to Toledo, or possibly to Detroit, as this Ontario native who is 26 continues to get the maximum from his left-handed bat. Robson is 5-10, 182, and was an eighth-round pick in 2016 from Mississippi State.

And who’s not …

A bit early to put the hot lights on any supposedly derelict SeaWolves.

More: Tigers’ farm teams wrestle with whiffs, but they’re hardly alone

Single-A West Michigan

Who’s hot …

Bryant Packard, LF: Packard had a pair of hits, including a two-run homer, Sunday and is batting .281 with an .890 OPS. He has a wicked left-handed bat and could be headed for higher elevations soon. Packard was a fifth-round pick out of East Carolina in 2019. He is a sturdy 6-3, 200.

Andre Lipcius, 2B/3B: One of the better bats through these early days belongs to Lipcius, a 2019 third-round pick from Tennessee. Lipcius has a pair of home runs as part of his .270 batting average and .869 OPS. He’s 22, bats right-handed, and goes 6-1, 190.

And who’s not …

Daniel Cabrera, OF: He had a triple Sunday, which might be a sign that Cabrera is coming around. And that’s definitely expected from last year’s 62nd overall pick, who was taken in the sandwich round between the second and third draft-day rounds. No one’s sweating Cabrera. He’ll hit. He bats left-handed, is 6-3, 200, and played at Louisiana State.

Single-A Lakeland

Who’s hot …

Eric De La Rosa, OF: He’ll turn 24 next month, so a .901 OPS at low-A Lakeland is not viewed with extraordinary emotion in Detroit. But the Tigers will take offense, at any level, and aren’t snorting at the work done thus far by a seventh-round pick in 2018 from Grossmont (Calif.) Junior College.

Wenceel Perez, SS: He’s a 21-year-old prospect the Tigers invested in, comparatively heavily, when they signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. Perez is batting .318 for the Flying Tigers, with a .388 on-base percentage in 11 games. He’s a switch-hitter, 5-11, 203.

Adam Wolf, LH reliever: Thirteen strikeouts in nine innings (three games), against two walks and six hits for Wolf, who was snagged in 2018 as a fifth-round pick from the University of Louisville. He’s a big one at 6-6, 215.

And who’s not …

Jose De La Cruz, RF: One tough month for De La Cruz, who has struck out 24 times in 11 games. And that’s how you end up two weeks into a new season with a .132 batting average and .429 OPS. De La Cruz, however, turned 19 in January. The Tigers will allow him time.

Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and former Detroit News sports reporter.

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1 Comment

  1. pretty surprised that Lynn didn’t want to mention Torkelson and his .146 batting average in his “and who’s not over in West Michigan … 17 k’s in 11 games … and IMVHO his walk off winner was a weak liner into right center no man’s land … don’t know how much longer Littlefield and Avila can manipulate this extraordinary baseball genius’ writings … in my opinion Lynn Henning is one of the finest beat writers of my era being that I am 69 years and I place him with the greats such as Wil McDonough …

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