Tigers minor-league report: Hot start for Moya

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Steven Moya


Who’s hot …

Steven Moya, OF: Might be developing some overall hitting skills the Tigers had hoped to see in addition to a 6-foot-7, 260-pound, left-handed batter’s acknowledged power. In the Mud Hens’ first six games, Moya, 24, is batting .360, with a 1.145 OPS, with two homers and four doubles. He has struck out five times and walked once.

Dixon Machado, SS: Will be playing somewhere in the big leagues, and probably soon. Machado, 24, has opened the year batting .294, with a double, triple, and .839 OPS. His defense and arm are pluses, which is why he could be part of some July trade talks if the Tigers are heavy deadline shoppers.

Matt Boyd, LH starter: So far, so good, for Boyd through two starts: 1.64 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 11 innings. The 25-year-old Boyd, of course, came to the Tigers in last July’s deadline deal with the Blue Jays, and looms along with Daniel Norris as a Tigers pitcher Most Likely To Be Promoted early in 2016, if need arises.

And who’s not …

Wynton Bernard, OF: It’s early, and chilly, and that no doubt explains a frigid start for a potentially helpful Tigers prospect: .182 through his first six games.

New Flying Tigers flying high for Lakeland


Who’s hot …

Austin Green, C: An important piece in the Tigers’ organizational inventory, Green, 26, was batting .318 with a pair of home runs in the Sea Wolves’ first six games. He’s a right-handed batter, 6-1, 200, and was a 13th-round pick in 2013 (University of San Diego).

Harold Castro, 2B: Tigers, not to mention Castro, would love nothing more than for an infielder who’s only 22 to smooth out and put together a steady 2016. He has started smartly, batting .308. Castro is 6-foot, 165, and bats left-handed. He was signed in 2011 out of Venezuela.

Paul Voelker, RH reliever: No surprise if Voelker finds his way to Toledo, or even to Detroit, in 2016. He gets people out, regularly. Through his first four games, Voelker, 23, and a 10th-round pick in 2014 (Dallas Baptist), hadn’t allowed a run, striking out six and walking one in 3.1 innings.

Matt Crouse, LH reliever: Nice start for this 24th-round pick (2011, University of Mississippi): 7.2 innings, three hits, one earned run, five strikeouts.

And who’s not …

Dominic Ficociello, 1B: It will get better, probably quickly, for this well-regarded switch-hitter. But in his first eight games, good for 30 at-bats, Ficociello, had only four singles and 11 strikeouts. He is 6-4, 200, and was a 12th-round choice by the Tigers in 2013.


Who’s hot …

A.J. Ladwig, RH starter: Two crisp starts for Ladwig, 23, whom the Tigers nabbed in the 11th round in 2014 Wichita State): 10 innings, four hits, no runs, no walks, eight strikeouts. Ladwig is 6-5, 180.

Jairo Labourt, LH pitcher: Should the strike zone become any kind of ally, Labourt has an All-Star arm, as evidenced by his first two games, one of which was a start. He has thrown a combined seven innings, allowed two hits, and no earned runs, while walking five and striking out 10.

And who’s not …

Endrys Briceno, RH starter: Don’t make much of Briceno’s early April. Only a couple of years ago, he was considered a prize. He’s been dealing with arm issues but is back, healthy, and is only 24, which is why the Tigers won’t worry greatly – at this point – about two appearances (and one start) that have produced carnage: 14 hits and five walks in 5.1 innings.


Who’s hot …

Steven Fuentes, SS: Batting .363, with a .913 OPS, which includes two triples as this 21-year-old switch-hitter settles in for what could be a nice year with the Whitecaps. He’s from Venezuela and was signed in 2011.

Jose Azocar, CF: Absolutely one to watch, Azocar, 19, is a blue-chipper who has started neatly: .333 in nine games. Has a lot of filling out ahead of him, but this right-handed hitter, 5-11 and 165, is one of the system’s best young prospects.

Shane Zeile, C: Had some injury issues that made 2015 a bit stressful, but this fifth-round pick in 2014 (UCLA) is the son of ex-big leaguer Todd Zeile, and has begun making up for 2014’s near-washout. He’s batting .291, with a 1.039 OPS (one homer, one triple, two doubles). Zeile, 22, is 6-1, 195, and bats right-handed.

Fernando Perez, RH starter: He’s advanced (22) for this level, which is something to keep in mind. But his stuff has been high-voltage: 16 strikeouts in 10 innings, five hits, three walks, and only one earned run. He is 6-3, 185, and was signed in 2011 as a teenager in the Dominican Republic.

And who’s not …

Cam Gibson, OF: Some cold-weather adjustments for Gibson in his first full season of professional baseball:  .160 in seven games for last June’s fifth-round pick out of Michigan State.