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Tigers minor-league report: Cam Gibson heats up

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Cam Gibson


Who’s hot …

JaCoby Jones, CF: Hasn’t changed habits since he was promoted from Double A. Still hitting: .306 in 13 games with the Mud Hens, accompanied by a .903 OPS. Jones should be arriving in Detroit for a September audition. He’s 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, bats right-handed, can also play third base, and was last year’s Tigers reward for sending Joakim Soria to the Pirates. He turned 24 last month and was a third-round pick (2013) by the Pirates as Jones wrapped up a career at Louisiana State.

Dixon Machado, SS: Picking it up of late (.351 in his last 10 games) and looking more like the Machado a team in Detroit was counting on in 2016. Still a lot of work to do (one home run and 12 extra-base hits on the year) for a 6-1, 170-pound prospect who’s 24 and a splendid defender.

And who’s not …

Tyler Collins, OF: Lawdy, lawdy, what happened to Collins? The weather heats up and Collins hits the deep freeze: .132 in his last 10 games, .202 on the season.

Angel Nesbitt, RH reliever: Mysterious times for Nesbitt, 25. He looked early last year as if he would be one of those long-term, back-end bullpen answers. And then, suddenly, it was gone, and Nesbitt, who has a plus fastball, isn’t pitching at all comfortably: 5.25 ERA in his last 10 games, with 16 hits and 10 walks in 12 innings.

Changes put Tigers ’14 first-rounder Hill on right path


Who’s hot …

Joe Jimenez, RH reliever: Amazing run, truly. Jimenez has worked 24 games in 2016, at Single A Lakeland and at Erie, and hasn’t yielded a single run. The numbers are staggering: 24.1 innings, nine hits, 41 strikeouts, six walks. The Tigers are being careful with a pitcher who turned 21 in January. But his ticket to Detroit is gestating. Jimenez is 6-3, 220 pounds.

Dominic Ficociello, 1B: Heating up after a frigid spring, Ficociello, a switch-hitter, is batting .345 in his last 10 games. He was a 12th-round grab (Arkansas) in 2013.

Corey Jones, 3B: He’s long in the tooth for Double A (28), but give a man credit for a strong June: .316 in his last 10 games. The left-handed hitting Jones was a seventh-round pick in 2010 (Cal-State Fullerton).

Paul Voelker, RH reliever: Has the burners cooking again after a slight bump. Voelker in his last five games hasn’t allowed a run. The digits: 7.1 innings, four hits, 12 strikeouts, zero walks. Voelker, who is 5-10, 185, was a 10th-round pick in 2014 (Dallas Baptist).

And who’s not …

Grayson Greiner, C: No surprise. Moving from Single A to Double A is more than a simple adjustment, in most cases, as Greiner is learning: .188 in his last 10 games. He was a third-round honoree by the Tigers in 2014 (South Carolina), bats right-handed, and is a statuesque 6-6, 220.


Who’s hot …

Tyler Alexander, LH starter: Fine season for Alexander, a second-round steal by the Tigers in 2015 (Texas Christian): 12 games, 2.03 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .229 opposing batting average. Alexander has 55 strikeouts and 12 walks in 66.2 innings.  He’s 6-2, 200, and a Chicago native.

And who’s not …

Christin Stewart, OF: There will be dips in the road, even for a hitter of Stewart’s potential, and this has been quite the tumble for Detroit’s second pick in the 2015 draft: .121 in his last 10 games.

Jairo Labourt, LH starter: Same old problem for Labourt, who could throw a baseball through about any substance this side of four-ply Kevlar: the strike zone. He’s allowed 44 walks in 52.1 innings, which is the big reason his season ERA in his last 10 games is 6.47. The Tigers got him as part of last July’s trade with the Jays that sent David Price to Toronto.


Who’s hot …

Jose Azocar, OF: Quality player and prospect here, Azocar has been marvelously consistent in 2016. In his last 10 games, he’s been particularly hot, batting .375. Azocar turned 20 only last month and is progressively adding muscle to his 5-11, 165-pound frame. The Tigers signed him four years ago out of Venezuela.

Cam Gibson, OF: Catching fire this month, with a .333 clip going in his last 10 games. Gibson was the Tigers’ fifth-round prize in 2015 after some quality years at Michigan State. In the tradition of some past Gibsons to whom he has family attachments, he bats left-handed, and is measured at 6-1, 195.

Matt Hall, RH starter: What else is new? Hall is 8-0, has an 0.73 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, and continues to curve-ball batters to death. He has 67 strikeouts in 61.1 innings, has walked 19, and has rationed a mere 42 hits. The Tigers drafted him a year ago in the fifth round (Missouri State) after he had led the NCAA in strikeouts.

Beau Burrows, RH starter: Same story, different stuff. The Tigers’ first-round pick from 2015 has been sticking within the chalklines in virtually every start from 2016, minus any real wavering: 2.77 ERA in 11 games and 10 starts, with a 1.08 WHIP. He’s 6-2, 200, and has roots in suburban Dallas.

Gerson Moreno, RH reliever: Only 20 and has a chance to be a premier closer. Consider his last 10 games: 12 innings, six hits, one run, 14 strikeouts, three walks. On the season (22 games): 1.14 ERA, 1.10 WHIP. Moreno is 6-foot, 175, can approach 100 mph with his fastball, and was signed out of the Dominican Republic.

Trent Szkutnik, LH pitcher: He has a University of Michigan pedigree and has been just fine in 2016, two years after the Tigers made him a 20th-round pick: 14 games (seven starts), 3-0 record, 2.33 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 1.99 ERA in his last 10 stints.