CLEVELAND -- Nick Castellanos will end the year as the Tigers' top prospect. His former Double-A Erie teammate, Avisail Garcia, has been recognized as having the best season.
The Tigers announced on Friday that Garcia has been honored as the organization's Minor League Player of the Year, recognizing a season that saw the 21-year-old Venezuelan raise his profile from an athletic outfielder in the lower levels of the farm system to a five-tool contributor in the big leagues.
Garcia had the rare season that statistically improved with a midseason promotion. He batted .289 with eight doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 36 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 67 games with Class A Lakeland. Once the Tigers bumped him up to Double-A, he hit .312 with nine doubles, three triples, six home runs, 22 RBIs and nine steals for the SeaWolves.
Garcia's performance, combined with the Anibal Sanchez-Omar Infante trade and Drew Smyly's year in the big leagues, bumped him from eighth to fourth on MLB.com's list of Top 20 Tigers prospects. One of the three he was behind is Bruce Rondon, the hard-throwing reliever and All-Star Futures Game participant who jumped from Lakeland to Triple-A Toledo.
Add up Rondon's stats between his three stops, and the 21-year-old Venezuelan right-hander with the 6-foot-2 frame racked up 29 saves to go with 66 strikeouts over 53 innings. He pitched two-thirds of an inning in the Futures Game, hitting 102 mph on the radar gun at Kauffman Stadium.
Rainout alters rotation for near future
CLEVELAND -- Manager Jim Leyland spent a good amount of time in August planning his rotation for the stretch run. Part of it was about lining up the best rotation possible for seven games against the White Sox. Part of it was about trying to get his starters an extra day of rest when he could.
Thursday night's rainout in Chicago didn't throw a big wrench into the plans, but it changes it up for the coming days. Justin Verlander's matchup with the White Sox, obviously, was out, but Leyland also opted against changing his rotation order for Monday's makeup game at U.S. Cellular Field.
After Doug Fister tossed seven innings of two-hit, two-run ball to beat the White Sox last Tuesday, he'll stay on turn and get an extra day of rest to pitch the makeup game. With 99 pitches on Tuesday, Fister wasn't exactly in need of the extra rest.
The more important beneficiary of rest is Max Scherzer, who will keep his extra day between starts after throwing 115 pitches on Wednesday. He could have been moved up and started on his fifth day, but he'll instead get the opener against an Oakland A's squad that is going to be a challenge for the Tigers unless they get outstanding starting pitching. Verlander and Anibal Sanchez will finish the series.
By keeping Scherzer and the rest of the rotation on track from Tuesday on, the Tigers keep the matchups they want for the stretch run. Barring another rainout, Scherzer is on track to make three more starts after Tuesday, including the regular-season finale on Oct. 3 in Kansas City.
Miggy says taking fan's sign all in fun
CLEVELAND -- Miguel Cabrera said on Friday that he was having some fun with fans when he took a fan's "Fire Leyland" sign while signing autographs before a game in Chicago this week. The video of it, taken from a fan's phone, has circulated online.
Still, Cabrera voiced some disappointment about Leyland taking the blame for the Tigers' struggles this season.
"I don't like it, because we're a team," Cabrera said. "We're trying to make a run for the playoffs."
In the video, Cabrera already has the sign and is signing autographs while a fan not seen in the picture asks him questions about Leyland and his decisions. Cabrera keeps on signing down the line. When the fan calls him "a man who steals signs," he laughs, then hands the sign to a security guard and tells him to give it back to the fan.
Leyland is under contract through season's end after signing a one-year deal last August. His situation is unlikely to be addressed until the offseason.
Cabrera's move has been seen as a message of support.
As for fan reaction to Leyland's decisions, Cabrera said, "I think they don't realize how hard it is."
Postseason tickets still available
CLEVELAND -- Tickets remain for each of the Tigers' potential American League Division Series games, as well as the potential AL Wild Card game, after going on sale earlier this week.
Ron Colangelo, vice president of communications, said in an email on Friday that more than 30,000 tickets have been sold for each of the Division Series games. Fewer tickets are available compared with past years, Colangelo said, and the fact that the Tigers don't yet have the inside track for a playoff spot, however, might also be playing a role, though they control their own destiny with one game remaining against the division-leading White Sox.
Tickets -- and information on refunds, if necessary -- are available at tigers.com/postseason. Tickets can also be purchased by phone by calling 866-66-TIGER. There's a limit of four tickets per customer per game.