On March 15 the Tigers made their first round of roster cuts. Here’s what those cuts mean for the Mud Hens in 2011.
OPTIONED TO TRIPLE-A TOLEDO: Detroit optioned to the Mud Hens LHPs Andy Oliver and Duane Below; RHPs Jose Ortega and Lester Oliveros; and IFs Cale Iorg, Audy Ciriaco and Ryan Strieby.
OPTIONED TO DOUBLE-A ERIE: Detroit optioned to the SeaWolves RHP Jacob Turner.
REASSIGNED TO MINOR-LEAGUE CAMP: Detroit reassigned RHP Chris Oxspring; LHP John Bale; Cs Rob Brantly, Bryan Holaday, John Murrian, Patrick Leyland and Omir Santos; OFs Ben Guez and Avisail Garcia; and IF Brandon Douglas.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? The Tigers are cutting down to the nitty-gritty, first of all. Second, there aren’t many surprises on this list; in fact, Detroit manager Jim Leyland told the media after these moves, “You don’t really have to worry about that group being mad at you. There will be some other guys later on that are mad at me, but this was pretty much no-brainers.”
Third, it was interesting to see that top prospect Jacob Turner was sent to Double-A. That indicates he could spend time in Toledo before season’s end; of course, he also could leap-frog Toledo and head straight to Detroit, something that has become common in recent seasons (Justin Verlander, Alfredo Figaro and Oliver, to name three).
Fourth, don’t read anything into the slew of catchers that were reassigned: the Tigers annually invite a number of catchers to spring training to make all of the bullpen sessions for their pitchers go faster.
Fifth, there’s a strong chance the Mud Hens won’t have all of the players who were optioned to Toledo, but most of them probably will begin the season here. I believe there’s a chance Duane Below will repeat Double-A (if he remains a starter, which I expect he will). Both right-handers (Ortega and Oliveros) also could start in Double-A, but I think they will be Mud Hens. Ciriaco is a puzzle; if he remains at third base, I would pencil him in as a starter for Toledo. If he moves to a different position, I’m less certain of that.
Sixth, I don’t believe a lot of the “reassignees” – is that a word? I hope so – will start with Toledo. I think Oxspring and Bale will, but the only catcher I see here in Toledo is Santos (if he’s healthy). I think Douglas starts in Double-A, as does Guez (remember that Guez had limited Single-A experience before last season) and Garcia.