The Toledo Mud Hens have started off the season with two losses to Louisville - 5 to 4 on Thursday and 8-2 last night. In last night's game, Virgil Vazquez had 8 strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings but also allowed 4 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks. The Mudhens had only 3 hits, one of them by Chris Shelton who also walked. Shelton is 2 for 8 to start the season.
Two of the better prospects to watch at Toledo this year are outfielder Brent Clevlen and pitcher Jordan Tata. The 23 year old Clevlen appeared in 31 games for the Tigers in 2006 and batted .282 with 3 home runs and 6 extra base hits in 39 at bats. However, he did most of that in his first week up and was less successful playing for Erie where he batted .230 with 138 strikeouts in 395 at bats. Clevlen has good fielding skills and can play center field but he is more of a corner outfielder. Offensively, he has good power and can draw walks but he strikes out too much and didn't make enough contact last year. he is still a good prospect but he needs to regain the stroke he had in Lakeland in 2005 where he batted .302/.387/.484.
Tata also appeared briefly for the Tigers last year but spent most of the year in Toledo where he compliled a 3.84 ERA in 122 innings. Although he is now 25 years old, last year was his first year above A ball so needs more work at AAA. He has a fastball with good movement and a good knuckle curve but needs to work on his change-up. He may end up as a reliever but the Tigers still see him as a starter.
Other players to watch at Toledo this year include first baseman Chris Shelton and pitchers Zach Miner and Virgil Vasquez. The complete roster is listed below. More roster details can be found at the Mud Hens official site. For more news and discussion of the Mud Hens, check out motownsports.com and Mike Cassidy's Tigers Minor League Blog.
Toledo Mud Hens Opening Day Roster
Craig Dingman (DL)
Joey Eischlen (DL)
1B Chris Shelton
2B Kevin Hooper
SS Ramon Santiago
3B Mike Hessman
UT Jack Hannahan
UT Chris Maples