The Erie Sea Wolves were supposed to open up on Thursday but have yet to play due to inclement weather. Once they do get started, fans will see a roster stocked with pretty good prospects. The SeaWolves do not have any young phenoms like Cameron Maybin or Andrew Miller (at least not on the opening roster) but 10 of the top 30 Tigers prospects according to Baseball America will start off in Erie this year. Plus, Maybin and Miller are expected to join the team at some point so it should be a good year for prospect watching in Erie. Some of the top prospects are listed below:
Jair Jurrjens is unheralded but has moved quickly through the system and pitched solidly for 12 starts with Erie at age 20 last year. He had a 2.68 ERA and 112/31 strikeout/walk ratio in 141 innings for Lakeland and Erie combined. He has developed into the Tigers second best pitching prospect behind Miller. He throws in the low 90s and has reached the mid 90s with his fastball. He also has a decent change-up and curve and has very good control. I would expect him to reach AAA Toledo fairly quickly.
Jeff Larish is a 24 year old left-handed power hitting first baseman who batted .258/.379/.460 for Lakeland last year. There is little question about his power and he has the patience to draw a lot of walks. He also is good defensively. The only question is whether he'll make enough contact at the upper levels. If he has a good year in AA this year, he'll become a very interesting prospect for an organization which needs a power hitting first baseman.
Eulogio De La Cruz is a hard throwing 23 year old right-hander whose big attraction is a fastball which has reached 100 MPH on occasion. He also has a sharp curve which can be very tough. He is still very raw however and his command and control do not match his stuff at this point. He has spent most of his time in the bullpen but pitched better as a starter last year. So, he'll be a starter this year but his ultimate role is still up in the air.
Dallas Trahern is a 21 year old right-hander with an excellent slider and an uncanny ability to induce ground balls (a 3.3 GB/FB ration for Lakeland last year). He also showed good control walking just 41 batters in 145 innings. The problem is a very low strikeout rate - just 4.8 K per 9 innings in his career. The results have been a 3.18 career ERA but it remains to be seen if he can continue to get away with such a low K Rate at higher levels. By all accounts he has outstanding make-up which should allow him to make the most of his ability.
Other prospects to watch in Erie this year include pitchers P.J. Finigan and Kyle Sleeth, second baseman Mike Hollimon, third baseman Kody Kirkland and outfielders Matt Joyce and Clete Thomas. The complete roster is listed below. More roster details can be found at the Sea Wolves official site. For more news and discussion of the Sea Wolves, check out motownsports.com and Mike Cassidy's Tigers Minor League Blog.
Erie Sea Wolves Opening Day Roster
Eulogio De La Cruz
1B Jeff Larish
2B Mike Hollimon
SS Brent Dlugach
3B Kody Kirkland
UT Nick McIntyre
UT Adam Haley