08/25/09 11:09 PM ET
Strieby headlines AFL participants
Slugger is among six Tigers prospects to play for Javelinas
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Joining him will be relievers Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt, starter Thad Weber and the potential future double-play combo of Cale Iorg and Scott Sizemore. They'll all play for longtime Tigers instructor Kevin Bradshaw, who will manage the Peoria Javelinas.
The 18th annual Arizona Fall League season begins on Oct. 13 and runs through Nov. 19 with the Rising Stars game on Nov. 7 and the championship game set for Nov. 21. Every game can be followed live on Gameday on MLB.com and MLBFallBall.com.
At least five of the six Tigers going, and possibly the full half-dozen, seemingly have at least a chance to contribute in Detroit at some point next season. How they perform in Arizona, and more importantly, what they learn competing against some of baseball's best young talent, could go a long way towards deciding how good of a chance at the Majors they have.
For Strieby, part of that depends on where he can play defensively in the big leagues. While his combination of power and average forces club officials to take notice, his previous status as a first baseman left him in a tough spot in an organization where Miguel Cabrera has that position sewn up for a while.
With that in mind, the Tigers moved him to left field late in the season at Erie to see how he would handle it. He has three errors in 20 games, but the Tigers believe he can eventually make the move.
With a .303 batting average, 19 homers and 58 RBIs in 86 games for the SeaWolves, there's plenty of motivation to find some versatility for him. He'll get some work towards that in Arizona, where the goal is to rotate the many players each organization sends to give them repetitions.
Strieby will have plenty of company from Erie, where all six Tigers representatives played at some point this season. Iorg, a sixth-round selection in the 2007 Draft whom the Tigers enticed with a sizable signing bonus, has spent the entire season with the SeaWolves. The shortstop entered Tuesday batting .221 with 11 homers, 38 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 115 games while making 19 errors.
Those numbers make it less likely he'll be ready for the big club at the start of 2009, but the Tigers are hoping the AFL can be the start of a follow-up effort.
Sizemore represented the Tigers at the All-Star Futures Game in July at St. Louis' Busch Stadium. The fifth-round Draft pick from 2006 has posted similar numbers between Erie and Triple-A Toledo, batting .307 at the latter stop with 18 doubles, seven homers, 27 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts. He could be an answer for Detroit at second base next year, depending on the future of would-be free agent Placido Polanco.
Both Satterwhite and Weinhardt have gone from last year's Draft to this year's talented, stingy SeaWolves bullpen. Satterwhite, Detroit's second-round pick, shares the team lead in saves with 12 while posting a 3.47 ERA and striking out 52 batters over 49 1/3 innings. Weinhardt, a 10th-rounder, was promoted this summer after a dominant start at Class A Lakeland. He owns 66 strikeouts over 56 2/3 innings between the two levels, allowing just two homers among his 44 hits with 21 walks.
Weber earned recognition last week by pitching a no-hitter for Erie, adding a centerpiece performance to a 7-3 season with a 3.95 ERA for the 24-year-old.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.