Tigers minor-league report: Hicks has been catch for Toledo

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Toledo catcher John Hicks played for the Twins organization this spring.

Triple A Toledo

Who’s hot …

John Hicks, C: One of the Tigers’ stronger organizational moves was nabbing Hicks off the waiver wire in April after he’d been abandoned by the Twins. Hicks is a fine defensive catcher, only 26, and is batting .389 in his last 10 games. He’s been almost as steady in 64 games since joining the Mud Hens, batting .291, with eight homers and an .831 OPS. Hicks bats right-handed, is 6-2, 230, and was a fourth-round pick by the Mariners (2011) after he starred at the University of Virginia.

Buck Farmer, RH starter: Has been strong with the Mud Hens, but can’t quite string together consistency at Detroit. His last 10 games for Toledo: 2.79 ERA, with seven of his 18 earned runs coming in two starts. In those 10 games (58 innings), Farmer, 25, has rolled up 58 strikeouts, walked 17, and been clipped for 51 hits.

And who’s not …

The Mud Hens have earned an indictment-free week.

Double A Erie

Who’s hot …

Grayson Greiner, C: Nice finish to Greiner’s second full season after the Tigers took a shot at him in the third round of the 2014 draft (University of South Carolina). Greiner, who bats right-handed, is hitting .359 in his last 10 games. He’s a towering 6-6, and weighs 220.

Artie Lewicki, RH starter: Got a late start because of some arm issues but has settled down two years after the Tigers snagged him in the eighth round (University of Virginia). In nine starts for the SeaWolves, Lewicki has a 3.56 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. He’s struck out 46 in 48 innings and has walked nine. He’s 24 years old and checks in at 6-3, 195.

Tigers' No. 1 pick Manning adjusting to rigors of pro ball

And who’s not …

Dominic Ficociello, 1B: Been that kind of year for Ficociello, who’s fighting it the last 10 games (.156). He’s a switch-hitter, 24, whom the Tigers opted for in the 12th round in 2014 (University of Arkansas).

Single A Lakeland

Who’s hot …

A.J. Simcox, SS: He’ll need to pick it up with the bat in 2017 if he expects to play meaningfully in the big leagues, but Simcox, a 14th-round grab by the Tigers in 2015 (University of Tennessee), is batting .333 in his past 10 games. On the season, he’s at .260 with a .630 OPS.

And who’s not …

Zac Shepherd, 3B: Focus on his power numbers (14 homers in the Florida State League) and it’s easy to see why the Tigers aren’t distressed by Shepherd’s .187 batting average (.188 in his last 10 games). Not when Shepherd is 20 years old. But it’s vital that his average and overall hitting profile rise in 2017. Shepherd bats right-handed, is 6-3, 185, and signed a nice bonus to play for the Tigers when he was a teenager in Sydney, Australia.

Single A West Michigan

Who’s hot …

Beau Burrows, RH starter: Had a finger blister at midseason that slowed him considerably. Now back in rhythm. Only three earned runs in his last four starts, spanning 171/3innings, with 11 strikeouts and 10 hits. Burrows, of course, was the Tigers’ first-round draft pick in 2015. He’s 19, is 6-2 and 200.

Mark Ecker, RH reliever: More of the same since the Tigers bumped him from Single A Connecticut to West Michigan: Five innings, five strikeouts, no walks, no runs. Ecker was the Tigers’ fifth-round pick in June (Texas A&M).

And who’s not …

Cam Gibson, OF: Tough stretch for Gibson, who’s batting .135 in his last 10 games. Gibson was the Tigers’ fifth-round pick in 2015 after starring at Michigan State.

Single A Connecticut

Who’s hot …

Kyle Funkhouser, RH starter: His game and experience are a bit elevated for low Single A, but barely two months after he was pitching for the University of Louisville, the Tigers have been breaking in Funkhouser gently after he was a fourth-round pick in June’s draft. He has a 2.48 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 10 starts for Connecticut. His 29-inning totals: 27 hits, 27 strikeouts, four walks. He’s 6-2, 220.

Bryan Garcia, RH reliever: Nothing has changed. Garcia is still crushing batters: 18 strikeouts and three walks in 132/3 innings. He was a sixth-round pick in June (University of Miami).

Joe Navilhon, RH reliever: Again, he’s 23, and having pitched Pac-12 baseball at Southern Cal, Navilhon might be expected to subdue some of the New York-Penn League’s newcomers. Still, he’s been superb, with a 2-0 record and 0.36 ERA (1.01 WHIP) in 14 games. Navilhon, who is 6-foot, 200, has thrown 242/3 innings, allowing 20 hits, striking out 26 and walking five. The Tigers got him in June’s 21st round.

And who’s not...

Emanuel Chavez, RH reliever: Ouch. Chavez, 21, has been pretty much raked this summer: 16 games, 19 innings, 28 hits, 17 earned runs, with 22 strikeouts and 12 walks, which explains his 8.05 ERA and 2.11 WHIP.

Gulf Coast League East

Who’s hot …

Wladimir Pinto, RH reliever: Only 18 and has been fairly miserable on hitters: 14 games, 202/3 innings, 11 hits, 29 strikeouts. He’s walked 10, but control isn’t a grave concern at the moment. Pinto, who is 5-11, 170, was signed out of Maracay, Venezuela.

And who’s not …

Jose Gonzalez, OF: He turned 18 last month, and this is how it can go for a teenager fresh to a new culture and baseball environment: .172 in his last 10 games and .207 on the season (36 games). Gonzalez is 6-2, 165, bats right-handed, and was signed out of Santa Barbara, Venezuela.

Gulf Coast League West

Who’s hot …

Felix Viloria, LH reliever: This native of Dominican Republic has broken in niftily, with a 2.35 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 13 games, which includes 151/3 innings, 11 hits, 17 strikeouts, and eight walks. He’s 6-1, 165.

And who’s not …

Ariel Serrano, OF: Rugged summer for Serrano, a 5-10, 174-pound, right-handed batter from Panama: .156 in his last 10 and .175 in 35 games for GCL West. He’s 20 and runs 5-10, 174.