June 23rd, 2011

Turner, Martinez headed to All-Star Futures Game

Tigers prospects Jacob Turner and Francisco Martinez have been teammates all season at Double-A Erie, but they’ll be on opposing sides in two weeks at Chase Field in Phoenix. They’ll represent the Detroit organization at this year’s XM All-Star Futures Game.

Barring any changes, it’ll mark the first time since 2007 that the Tigers have had two players participate. Detroit didn’t have anyone last year; Andy Oliver was selected, but was promoted to the Majors in late June, leaving Wilkin Ramirez as the lone Detroit representative.

Turner will be part of the pitching staff on the U.S. Team, while Martinez will take his skills at third base to the World squad. Both entered the year on Tigers top prospect lists and on an aggressive track of advancement, which placed them among the younger players in the Eastern League at age 20. Both have had their share of growing pains with the SeaWolves, but both have put up the recent performances that backed up their lofty reports.

Of the two, Turner has had the most regard nationally, ever since the Tigers made him their top pick in the 2009 Draft. After splitting his first pro season last year between Class A West Michigan and Lakeland, the Tigers promoted him to Erie to start the season, testing him in a more hitter-friendly league. So far, he has turned in a performance that has meant much more than wins and losses.

While Turner’s victory last week against Portland was a relatively rare one, improving his record to 2-1, his 2.94 ERA ranks just outside the Eastern League top 10. He has averaged more than six innings per start, tossing 79 2/3 innings over his 12 outings, while limiting opponents to 65 hits. His 1.09 WHIP ratio ranks him fifth in the league, scattering 21 walks while striking out 64 batters.

The Tigers could look to limit Turner’s innings down the stretch in his second pro year, having just turned 20, but an inning or so of work over the All-Star break won’t be an obstacle.

Martinez will turn 21 on Sept. 1, but the native Venezuelan is in his fourth pro season. And after a slow start at Erie, his numbers show he’s catching onto the pitching there. His .294 average on the season includes a .341 average (28-for-82) in June with two homers and 18 RBIs after batting .333 in May. He had three straight three-hit games last week.

Martinez’s seven home runs are one shy of his total over his previous three seasons combined. He has 17 errors in 59 games at third.

Major League Baseball, along with with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America, USA Baseball and the 30 Major League Baseball clubs, selected the 25-man rosters for each club. Each organization is represented, and the World Team features players from 12 countries and territories. Players from all full-season Minor Leagues were eligible to participate.

Seventy-nine Major League All-Stars have come out of the Futures Game, including a record 38 last year. Tigers All-Stars Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Jose Valverde all took part in the Futures Game, as did potential Tiger All-Star Victor Martinez.

Inge reinstated from DL, Worth optioned

The question about Brandon Inge’s return from the disabled list (as mentioned in last post) didn’t last long. The Tigers announced this morning that Inge is being recalled from his minor-league rehab assignment and activated from the 15-day DL today. Danny Worth is optioned to Triple-A Toledo to make roster room.

There had been some question whether Inge might get in one more game with the Mud Hens to get ready for his return. And while Jim Leyland said Wednesday he assumed something would happen with Inge in the near future, there was nothing more announced before the Tigers headed back east Wednesday night. Today’s move means Inge will not rehab with the Hens tonight.

No news about Inge’s role accompanied the transaction. Leyland said Wednesday he has a plan with Inge, and that team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski is believed to be on board, but cautioned that it wasn’t final yet.

Keeping track of rehabbing Hens

Lots of moves in game for Jim Leyland in Wednesday’s win. Lots of player movement, actual and potential, to track after the game.

The one move the Tigers did announce Wednesday was the return of Ryan Perry. He’ll be recalled Friday from Triple-A Toledo; Adam Wilk was optioned out to make room. Leyland had been cautious for the last few weeks to emphasize that they needed to know Perry was really pitching well, getting hitters out on pitches in the strike zone rather than getting Triple-A hitters to chase. That apparently was taking shape, and the Tigers’ need for right-handed middle relief wasn’t diminishing.

The move that wasn’t announced was the pending return of Brandon Inge from his rehab assignment, but that appears close as well. While it isn’t clear whether Inge will play in Thursday’s game for the Hens while the Tigers enjoy their off-day, he told the Toledo Blade he plans to be back in Detroit on Friday when the homestand begins. Supporting that were the comments of Leyland, who said Wednesday morning he would expect a move on Inge fairly soon and has a plan on how to fit him back in.

Then there’s Brad Thomas, who could be on his final steps of rehab. He pitched two innings the other night, and he’s scheduled to go two innings again Thursday or Friday.