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Tigers minor-league report: VerHagen clicks in rotation

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

TRIPLE-A TOLEDO

Who’s hot …

Efren Navarro, 1B: Not to be confused with a prospect. But, had the Tigers been looking for left-handed, rather than right-handed, help at first base when Miguel Cabrera went down, Navarro easily could have been the choice. He has a big-league past with the Angels (130 games) and has been enjoying his time at Toledo, batting .388, with a .987 OPS, in 15 games. He turns 31 on May 14.

Drew VerHagen, RH starter: The shift to rotation work has, so far, been clicking. In three starts, VerHagen, 26, has a 2.40 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, with these 15-inning numbers: 11 hits, 10 strikeouts, five walks. VerHagen was a fourth-round pick (Vanderbilt) in 2012.

Daniel Stumpf, LH reliever: Can’t ignore stats from eight appearances: 1.23 ERA, 0.55 WHIP. Stumpf, who was a Rule 5 pick by the Tigers in December and who chose to join the Tigers rather than head back to the Royals (second-time Rule 5 pick), has thrown 71/3 innings, rationing two hits, while striking out eight with one unintentional walk. Stumpf is 26, and was a ninth-round pick by the Royals.

Arcenio Leon, RH reliever: Seven games (six innings), no runs, three strikeouts, one walk. He pitched well in spring camp and could find himself in Detroit — at any point. Leon is 30, has had a long apprenticeship in the minors and in the Mexican League.

Tigers prospect Robson’s grit draws raves from manager

And who’s not …

Steven Moya, OF: Isn’t getting better for Moya. He’s hit a pair of home runs, but is batting .132, with a .443 OPS, and has 14 strikeouts in 38 at-bats.

Alex Presley, OF: He would have been summoned rather than Jim Adduci to replace JaCoby Jones when Jones hit the disabled list. But a .160 batting average nixed any shot.

DOUBLE-A ERIE

Who’s hot …

Jason Krizan, OF: Won’t cool off — even if a Pennsylvania town hard by Lake Erie can be a bit crisp in April. Krizan, 27, is hitting .447 in his last 10 games and .393 (1.133 OPS) on the year, with four homers. He was an eighth-round pick in 2011 (Dallas Baptist).

Christin Stewart, OF: A generally strong start for Stewart, which should give way to more consistency. On the plus side: .999 OPS, with a .407 on-base percentage. A power guy and left-handed batter, Stewart hit three home runs in a doubleheader but hasn’t homered in his past 10 games. He’s batting .286, averaging less than a strikeout per inning — and probably will be at Triple-A Toledo sometime this summer.

And who’s not …

Grayson Greiner, C: He’ll heat up, but April hasn’t been kind to a heavy Tigers prospect: .189 in 10 games. Greiner was a third-round pick (University of South Carolina) in 2014.

SINGLE-A LAKELAND

Who’s hot …

Zac Shepherd, 3B: Might finally be kicking in for this 21-year-old Australian, who’s batting .314 in his last 10 games, with a couple of home runs. Shepherd is 6-3, 185.

Beau Burrows, RH starter: He has four starts notched and has been the Burrows advertised when the Tigers two years ago made him their first-round pick. Burrows is 2-0, with an 0.81 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. Totals: 221/3 innings, 17 hits, two earned runs, 21 strikeouts, five walks. Burrows is 20, stands 6-2, weighs 200.

Jairo Labourt, LH reliever: Again, it’s the sudden strike-zone gains that impress when a reliever has his fastball fire: one walk in 82/3 innings, alongside 13 strikeouts. Labourt has a 1.04 ERA and 0.81 WHIP.

Drew Smith, RH reliever: So steady, this third-rounder (Dallas Baptist, 2015): 1.23 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in five games, 71/3 innings, with four hits allowed, 10 strikeouts and two walks.

A.J. Ladwig, RH starter: He’s not a high-octane guy, but has pitched nicely for the Flying Tigers: 1.08 ERA and 0.68 WHIP in four starts spanning 25 innings in which Ladwig has doled out only 15 hits, while striking out 19 and walking two. He was an 11th-round grab in 2014 (Wichita State).

And who’s not …

Joey Pankake, 2B: Simply a chilly start for Pankake: .195 for April. He was a seventh-round pick (University of South Carolina) in 2014.

SINGLE-A WEST MICHIGAN

Who’s hot …

Cam Gibson, OF: .317 in his last 10 games for this fifth-rounder (Michigan State, 2015). Tigers wanted Gibson to get the benefit, at least initially, of another season at low Single A. So far, so good.

Eduardo Jimenez, RH reliever: He’s a bit advanced for low A (22 years old) but the stuff should play at higher levels. In five games and nine innings for the Whitecaps, Jimenez has been nicked for seven hits, while striking out 14 and walking three. He’s 6-foot, 183, and was signed out of Cumana, Venezuela.

Zac Houston, RH reliever: Has done nothing but dominate since he was signed last June out of Mississippi State (11th round). In five games and nine innings for the Whitecaps, Houston’s numbers are: six hits, 13 strikeouts, five walks. He is 6-5, 250.

And who’s not …

Bryan Garcia, RH reliever: A bit bumpy for Garcia in April, although the uneven stuff won’t last. He was a sixth-round pick last June (University of Miami) and has a lovely shot at eventually working in the Tigers’ bullpen. That initial 6.75 ERA will be descending rapidly.

lynn.henning@detroitnews.com

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