July 27, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Tigers minor league report: Robbie Ray sees turnaround after switch in repertoire

Starter Robbie Ray has given up two runs on eight hits while striking out eight in his last two starts at Triple A Toledo. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)

Triple A Toledo

Who’s hot …

James McCann, C: Headed to Detroit for September after a strong 2014 that has been even better in his last 10 games: .417, with a 1.022 OPS (six doubles). McCann is solid in all respects. Tigers would like to see power develop (two home runs in 82 games), but love everything else about their top draft pick from 2010 (University of Arkansas). McCann is 6-2, 210. He bats right-handed.

Robbie Ray, LH starter: Has scrapped curveball and gone to a slider, and it has made the difference in his last two starts: 12 innings, eight hits, two runs, eight strikeouts, two walks. Ray, 22, was the main chip in the Tigers’ trade that sent Doug Fister to the Nationals.

And who’s not …

Hernan Perez, 2B: Has been doing well, overall, in 2014, but not in the last 10 games: .197 batting average.

Double A Erie

Who’s hot …

Jason Krizan, OF: Eighth-round pick in 2011 (Dallas Baptist) is having quite the July for manager Lance Parrish’s SeaWolves: .436, with an 1.117 OPS in his last 10 games, .291 on the season. Krizan, 25, is 6-foot, 189, and bats left-handed.

Guido Knudson, RH reliever: Had a bumpy ride after arriving at Erie from Lakeland, but three of his last four appearances have been scoreless, spanning nine innings, with three hits, nine strikeouts and zero walks. Knudson, 24, is 6-1, 185, and was a 28th-round pick (2011) from University of California-San Diego.

And who’s not …

Ramon Cabrera, C: Has had a nice season, offensively, but the end of July typically begins to wear down catchers, and Cabrera, 24, may be tiring: .189 in his last 10 games, with a .512 OPS. He is 5-8, 195 and a switch-hitter, and came to the Tigers from the Pirates in a trade for Andy Oliver.

Single A Lakeland

Who’s hot …

Jeff McVaney, OF: .343 in his last 10 games, which is a sign of life from an eighth-round pick in 2012 (Texas State). McVaney is 24, bats right-handed, and goes 6-2, 217.

Brennan Smith, RH reliever: Has had four consecutive shutout missions, covering four innings, five hits, seven strikeouts, one walk. Smith was a 33rd-round pick in 2010 (Bowling Green).

And who’s not …

Flying Tigers receive a week’s pass for good behavior.

Single A West Michigan

Who’s hot …

Grayson Greiner, C: Still smoking the ball after the Tigers drafted him in the third round (University of South Carolina) in June. Greiner, who is 6-6, 215 and bats right-handed, is hitting .353 in his last 10 games, with an .883 OPS.

Javier Betancourt, 2B: Can be missed because of all the commotion surrounding his partner at short, Willy Adames, but Betancourt is batting .333 in his last 10 games, and .287 in 101 games. He is 19, bats right-handed, and measures 6-foot, 180.

Buck Farmer, RH starter: Only two earned runs in his last five starts (27 innings) during which Farmer, 23, has rationed 21 hits, struck out 22 and walked two. He was a fifth-round pick in 2013 (Georgia Tech).

And who’s not …

Another hard-working week in Florida’s heat for the Flying Tigers. No indictments.

Single A Connecticut

Who’s hot …

Joey Pankake, 3B: .424 in his last 10 games, with an 1.101 OPS, which is why the Tigers grabbed him from the University of South Carolina in June’s draft (seventh round). Pankake is 6-2, 185, bats right-handed and is renowned for his syrup-smooth swing.

Johan Belisario, RH reliever: 4-0, with an 0.95 ERA in his last 10 appearances, featuring 11 hits in 19 innings, 17 strikeouts, and three walks. Belisario is 20, stands 5-11, 165.

And who’s not …

Fernando Perez, RH starter: Strike-zone issues, among other challenges, for the 20-year-old Perez, who has walked 28 in 3513 innings, while striking out 28 and getting socked for 43 hits. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic.

Gulf Coast League (rookie)

Who’s hot …

David Gonzalez, 2B: .382 in his last 10 games, with a 1.076 OPS. Gonzalez, 20, is a switch-hitter, 5-9, 140, from Valencia, Venezuela.

Carlos Lara, RH reliever: Excellent power arsenal owned by Lara, 20, who is 6-2, 170: 31 strikeouts in 25 innings, eight walks, 13 hits.

And who’s not …

Gulf Coast League Tigers are getting their tender feet wet during one of the Tigers’ two short-season schedules. They are exonerated from any recent wrongdoing.