There’s no way to analyze the Mud Hens’ potential roster for 2012 without looking at the Tigers’ roster for the coming season. So here’s a look at who might begin next season in Detroit and in Toledo …
PLAYERS LOST, DETROIT: None.
PLAYERS LOST, TOLEDO: Omir Santos, .245-2-16 in 49 games, Toledo and .227-0-0- in 11 games, Detroit; Max St-Pierre, .207-4-25 in 77 games.
IN DETROIT FOR SURE: The Tigers struck gold when Alex Avila had a breakout season, batting .295 with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs. He proved to be durable, playing in 133 games before appearing to wear down in the playoffs. Best of all, he will turn just 25 years old in January. … Victor Martinez is listed as a catcher, but his real position is DH. Last season he batted .330 with 12 home runs and 103 RBIs in 145 games but caught just 26 games.
IN DETROIT OR IN TOLEDO? There aren’t any names to add here until free agency hits.
OTHER TOLEDO OPTIONS: Jeff Kunkel played in 19 games for the Mud Hens and hit .075 with one homer and two RBIs. He also spent time with Double-A Erie, where he hit .270-0-8 in 12 games, and Hi-A Lakeland, where he batted .222-0-1 in 10 games. Kunkel played in 25 games for the Hens in 2010, batting .239 with eight RBIs.
POTENTIAL HELP FROM ERIE: The most intriguing name is Bryan Holaday, who hit .242 with seven homers and 42 RBIs in 95 games. Baseball America ranked him as the Tigers’ 20th-best prospect (and top catching prospect) entering 2011, but last year was his first full pro season and he turns just 24 later in November. … John Murrian hit .240 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 42 games for the SeaWolves and also had a 14-game cameo with the Hens (hitting .133-0-4). He’s not viewed as a prospect by Baseball America, but he’s also just 23 years old.
THE LAST WORD: In Detroit, Avila starts behind the plate and Martinez starts at DH. It seems the Tigers have learned a lesson from last season and will get a back-up for Avila so Martinez can DH full-time. … That lesson probably will benefit Toledo, because Detroit won’t want to be caught short behind the plate again. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Tigers resigned Omir Santos, whose catching and game-calling abilities seemed to gain favor with Detroit manager Jim Leyland. Whether it’s Santos or someone else, there’s a chance the Tigers will sign a Triple-A insurance policy as well as a veteran back-up. … The Tigers have an interesting decision in Erie: does Holaday repeat Double-A because of his limited experience, or does he move up to Triple-A to prepare him for the majors more quickly? Murrian and Kunkel are potential back-ups in Toledo and Erie, so there is some depth in that regard. Making the waters murkier is the development of Rob Brantly, who hit .303-7-44 for Lo-A West Michigan to get a promotion to Hi-A Lakeland, where he batted .219-3-18 in 39 games. Brantly went to the Arizona Fall League and was impressive, batting .424 in 10 games. While he is just 22 years old, last year was just his first professional season – so where does he begin 2012? Does he repeat Hi-A Lakeland, or does he start in Erie -- and push Holaday up to Toledo?
FRIDAY, NOV. 11: A look at the outfielders in Detroit, Toledo and Erie. Click here to read Monday's look at the starting pitching situation. Click here to read Tuesday's look at the relief pitching situation. Click here to read Thursday's look at the infield situation. Click here to read Friday's look at the outfield situation.