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Tigers win on walkoff homer

Javier Azcona provides heroics.


Tigers shortstop Javier Azcona connects for a triple Sunday in the third inning against the Lowell Spinners at Dodd Stadium in Norwich. Connecticut won, 3-2, on Azcona’s walkoff homer in the ninth.

NORWICH — The pre-game clouds and subsequent rain were appropriate for Connecticut Tigers shortstop Javier Azcona. Heading into Sunday’s game, Azcona had gone 1-for-11 with six strikeouts in his last three games.

Fittingly, as the rains stopped and the clouds lightened, Azcona bounced back with a two-hit day, including a one-out, walk-off home run in the ninth to lift Connecticut to a 3-2 win over Lowell.

“(Saturday) was a bad day,” Azcona said through teammate Edwin Gomez. “I thanked God and came out (Sunday) and did the job.”

Unexpected power

Making Azcona’s heroics even more improbable is that he has the second-lowest batting average (.194) against right-handed pitchers among his teammates with at least 20 plate appearances. Even more impressive is that the pitcher Azcona homered off of, Swen Huijer, entered the game with a 0.79 ERA.

After throwing two balls to Azcona, Huijer grooved a fastball that Azcona deposited over the left-center field wall.

“He did a good job, he made an adjustment,” manager Andrew Graham said. “He’s a free swinger, Azcona is. But he had better pitch recognition (Sunday). He got pitches he can drive instead of swinging at ones in the dirt.”

Azcona set up the Tigers’ two-run third, tripling to the corner in right. Chad Wright followed with a walk and P.J. Polk’s grounder to third scored Azcona. Jason King added an RBI single to left field to plate Wright.

Wright, Connecticut’s leadoff hitter, has been on a roll of late. He reached base four times (single, two walks, hit by pitch) Sunday and has a six-game hitting streak. He has reached base in 10 straight games.

The victory was a stunning reversal for the Tigers (7-8), who didn’t let a 16-run, 24-hit debacle the night before weigh them down.

“(Sunday) we wanted to come out and show we can beat them,” Wright said. “We had good pitching and good runs at the right time.”

Clemente Mendoza (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

Tiger tracks

The Tigers placed relief pitcher Nick Avila on the 7-day disabled list Sunday with a shoulder injury. There was no corresponding roster move. … Avila’s cousin, Alex, was named the starting catcher for the American League All-Star team, representing Detroit. ... Gomez, an outfielder who went on the disabled list with a strained quadriceps muscle, is cleared to return to the roster and is awaiting the approval from Detroit. … Second baseman Colin Kaline left the game with what Graham described as “tweaking something in his side.” … Tickets to Sunday’s game will be treated as if the game was rained out. Fans can exchange their tickets for those of another game at the Tigers box office.

Tigers win on walkoff homer - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Tigers split double header.

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 05, 2011 @ 11:09 PM

LOWELL, Mass. — Spot starter Clemente Mendoza pitched four scoreless innings and Melvin Mercedes two Tuesday in the second game of a double header, leading Connecticut to a 2-0 win over Lowell.

The Spinners won the opener, 11-7.

Connecticut scored both of its runs in the third inning.

Chad Wright walked, stole second and scored on Dean Green’s double to center. Jeff Holm then singled home Green.

Mendoza struck out two, walked two and allowed one hit. Mercedes fanned three and walked two.

Daniel Bennett pitched the seventh for this third save.

In the first game, Connecticut lost thanks to a four-run second inning and six-run fourth by Lowell. Starter Wilsen Palacios allowed eight runs on 12 hits over three innings.

The Tigers’ Jason King was 3-for-4 with two runs, Green went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs, including his first home run of the season.

Les Smith also homered for Connecticut.

Tigers outfielder Edwin Gomez was activated from the 7-day disabled list prior to the game. Catcher Zach Maggard, a draft pick last month by Detroit, was promoted to Class-AA Erie.

Connecticut opens a three-game series tonight at Staten Island (7 p.m., WICH 1310 AM).

Tigers split double header - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Connecticut edged by Staten Island.

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 06, 2011 @ 11:10 PM

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Despite a strong complete-game effort from Brennan Smith, Connecticut fell to Staten Island, 2-1, Wednesday.

Casey Stevenson’s single and Ali Castillo doubled to put two runners in scoring position with one out in the fourth for the Yankees. Smith uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Stevenson to score and Castillo to move to third.

After an infield error put a runner at first, Jhorge Liccien’s fielder’s choice plated Castillo.

The Tigers cut the lead in half in the eighth.

Edwin Gomez singled and stole second. Then, with one out, advanced to third on a wild pitch. Designated hitter Bo McClendon grounded out to short, scoring Gomez.

Smith (1-2) allowed six hits and no walks while striking out six.

The teams play again tonight at 7 p.m.

Connecticut edged by Staten Island - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Jason King’s performance is enough for Connecticut.

By Staff reports

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 10, 2011 @ 10:30 PM

Norwich, Conn. — The Connecticut Tigers used a 3-for-3 afternoon from Jason King, including a solo homer in the third inning, to beat the Brooklyn Cyclones, 2-1, on Sunday afternoon at Dodd Stadium.

Connecticut (9-12) went ahead when Edwin Gomez drew a one-out walk in the second inning and moved up to second on a single by Colin Kaline.

After Les Smith flew out, Chad Wright came through with a two-out RBI base hit, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 lead.

King increased Connecticut’s lead when he led off the third inning with a solo shot to right field for a 2-0 lead. It was his second home run of the season.

Not over yet

The Cyclones (12-11) cut the deficit in the seventh inning. With the Tigers’ Melvin Mercedes on the mound in relief of starter Luis Sanz, Danny Muno drew a walk to start off the frame. He moved to second on a groundout by Ismael Tijerina and then to third on a base hit from Javier Rodriguez.

Brian Harrison followed with an RBI single to score Muno and cut the Tigers’ lead to 2-1.

Jeff Barfield and Daniel Bennett combined to hold the Cyclones scoreless over the final two frames.

Luis Sanz earned his second win of the season, throwing five shutout innings and giving up just two hits while striking out four. Jeff Walters suffered the loss for Brooklyn, dropping to 1-2 on the year.

The Tigers will play the rubber match of the three-game series against the Cyclones tonight. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. at Dodd Stadium.

Jason King?s performance is enough for Connecticut - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Tigers win 2nd straight game, series.

By Staff reports


Posted Jul 11, 2011 @ 11:51 PM

NORWICH — The Connecticut Tigers earned their second straight victory, a 5-3 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones on Monday at Dodd Stadium.

With the victory, Connecticut took the three-game home series.

Eugenio Suarez went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and a pair of runs to lead the Connecticut (10-12) offense. Tigers starter Wilsen Palacios (1-1) earned his first win on the mound after giving up three runs on five hits, striking out two batters and walking two.

Sanchez also stole a base, as did teammate Edwin Gomez.

Gomez (2-for-3) scored twice, the second time on a wild pitch from Brooklyn (12-12) reliever Todd Weldon.

In the sixth inning, Gomez reached on a line drive and stole second during P.J. Polk’s at-bat. Weldon then threw a wild pitch, which allowed Gomez to reach third. Weldon delivered another wild pitch during Polk’s at-bat, allowing Gomez to score and giving Polk a walk.

The Tigers get a day off today before visiting the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at 7:05 p.m., Wednesday. The matchup is the first of an eight-game road trip for Connecticut.


Norwich Police Officer Michelle Wyatt will spend two days on the roof of Dodd Stadium from July 22-24 as part of the Cop-on-Top benefit co-sponsored by the Tigers to raise money for Special Olympics Connecticut.

Wyatt will climb onto the roof Friday and come down Sunday. She hopes to raise $2,500 for the organization. For more information, visit soct.org

Tigers win 2nd straight game, series - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Five-run sixth dooms Connecticut Tigers.

By Staff reports

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 14, 2011 @ 11:09 PM

NILES, Ohio — The Connecticut Tigers dropped their second straight game Thursday with a 9-6 loss to Mahoning Valley at Eastwood Field.

The Scrappers (16-11) turned a two-run deficit into a four-run lead with a five-run sixth, smashing four hits to grab a lead they would not relinquish. Todd Hankins’ two-run single and Cody Elliott’s two-run double highlighted the frame, and Alex Lavitsky crushed a solo homer in the fourth to make it a 5-4 game.

The Tigers (10-14) started the game hot, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning aided by an RBI triple by Eugenio Suarez that plated Chad Wright and a three-run home run by Dean Green, his second homer of the season.

Drew Gagnier suffered his second loss of the season, giving up three runs in his outing, which started in the sixth inning. Nate Striz earned his second win of the season for Mahoning Valley.

The Tigers will play the finale of their three-game series against the Scrappers at 7 p.m., today

Five-run sixth dooms Connecticut Tigers - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Casali, Tigers salvage finale.

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 15, 2011 @ 11:17 PM

NILES, Ohio — Curtis Casali hit his first career home run and added two more hits for Connecticut in its 7-4 victory over Mahoning Valley on Friday, giving the Tigers their lone win in the three-game series at Eastwood Field.

The New Canaan native, who was 1-for-20 coming into the game, homered in the fourth inning and also scored a pair of runs for the Tigers in the win. He finished by going 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI.

The Scrappers (16-12) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before Casali cut the advantage to one in the fourth.

Connecticut (11-14) scored twice in the sixth and three times in the seventh. The Tigers got back-to-back RBI doubles by Zach Maggard, who brought home Casali, and Colin Kaline, who brought home Maggard, in the sixth inning and Jason King (two-run single) and Jeff Holm (sacrifice fly) accounted for Connecticut’s offense in the seventh.

King (three RBIs) and Kaline each had a pair of hits for the Tigers.

Starter Tyler Barrett struck out three batters and walked four in five innings of work. He allowed two earned runs.

Connecticut will travel to play a three-game series against Hudson Valley at 7:05 p.m., today. The Tigers will then travel for a two-game series against Tri-City before coming back home for a doubleheader against Tri-City on Thursday.


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Tigers win after wild 8th inning .

By Staff reports

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 18, 2011 @ 11:36 PM

WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. — A double, four walks, a wild pitch, a passed ball and a fielding error led to five Connecticut Tigers runs in the eighth inning, paving the way for an 8-3 win over the Hudson Valley Renegades on Monday.

The win is the second in two games for the Tigers, who won the three-game series. Connecticut (12-15) put up 11 hits as it dominated the Hudson Valley (16-12).

Hudson Valley lost control of the game in the eighth, which started with a pitching change. Andy Bass, who took the loss in his first decision, relieved Justin Woodall, who left with the score at 3-3.

Bass walked leadoff batter Jason King, who advanced to second on a walk to Dean Green and then went to third on catcher Matt Rice’s passed ball.

Two consecutive bases on balls for Jeff Holm and Matt Perry allowed King to score and moved Green to third.

Patrick Leyland (3-for-5, two runs, two RBIs) then knocked a two-run double that scored Green and Holm and moved Perry to third. Perry then scored on a wild pitch that also moved Leyland, who scored on Brian Bryles’ sacrifice fly on the next at-bat, to third.

The Tigers finish an eight-game road trip with a two-game set in Troy, N.Y. against the Tri-City ValleyCats. The first game is scheduled for 7 p.m., today.

Tri-City follows Connecticut home to Dodd Stadium for a three game series. It begins with a day-night doubleheader starting at 6 p.m.


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Connecticut Tigers fall to Tri-City.

By Staff reports

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 19, 2011 @ 11:45 PM

TROY, N.Y. — The Connecticut Tigers couldn’t keep ahead of the Tri-City ValleyCats in a 10-6 loss Tuesday at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on a Jason King two-run bomb to right, his fourth home run of the year. They added a run in the second on a Javier Azcona RBI single to score Matt Perry, who led off the frame with a double.

Tri-City tied the game at three in the fourth, but Connecticut regained the lead in the fifth on an RBI triple by Eugenio Suarez, scoring Chad Wright.

The ValleyCats went ahead, 6-4, in the bottom half, but the Tigers tied the game, 6-6, when Azcona hit a two-run double down the right field line.

The ValleyCats scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead for good.

The Tigers’ game today will begin at 11:05 a.m.


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Tigers’ offense explodes in win.

By Staff reports

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 20, 2011 @ 11:18 PM

Troy, N.Y. — The Connecticut Tigers used a six-run 13th inning to put away the Tri-City ValleyCats, 15-9, on Wednesday.

Connecticut set season-highs in hits (19) and runs (15) in improving to 14-16.

Zach Maggard’s RBI single scored Javier Azcona to put the Tigers up, 10-9, in the 13th. After an RBI groundout by Chad Wright, Jason King followed with a grand slam to put the game away.

Connecticut took a 9-7 lead after the top of the 12th on Jeff Holm’s two-run homer, but Tri-City (13-18) scored twice in the bottom half to keep the game going.

Maggard finished 4-for-7 with three RBIs and two runs scored for the Tigers, while Colin Kaline and Dean Green each had three hits.

Despite blowing the save in the 12th, Nick Avila (1-0) picked up the win.

The Tigers return home for a six-game homestand, which begins with a doubleheader tonight against Tri-City. First pitch for Game 1 is at 6:05 p.m.


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ValleyCats defeat Tigers, 3-2, at Dodd Stadium

By Staff reports

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 22, 2011 @ 08:30 PM

Last update Jul 22, 2011 @ 09:58 PM

Norwich, Conn. — Two errors accounted for all three Tri-City runs as the ValleyCats downed the Connecticut Tigers, 3-2, at Dodd Stadium Friday night.

Matt Duffy launched a one-out double off Connecticut starter Wilsen Palacios (2-2) in the eighth inning. One out later, Miles Hamblin stroked one to first base which Dean Green failed to handle that allowed Duffy to score.

Jeff Holm scored the Tigers' first run in the second inning when he walked, stole second and scored on a line-drive double to left field by Connecticut shortstop Javier Azcona. The hosts added a second run in the third when Chad Wright had a lead-off single, advanced to third on a pair of ground outs and scored on an error.

Tri-City tied the game in the fifth inning when both Jacke Healey and Brandon Meredith scored on an outfield error by the Tigers.


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Connecticut Tigers’ offense sputters.

By Staff reports

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 23, 2011 @ 10:56 PM

Norwich, Conn. — The Connecticut Tigers could not get their offense in gear and were shut out for the first time this season, 2-0, to the Williamsport Crosscutters on Saturday night at Dodd Stadium.

With the game scoreless into the seventh inning, Tigers starter Brennan Smith got two quick outs. However, he left a pitch in the wheelhouse of Harold Martinez, who crushed his first home run of the season, a solo shot giving the Crosscutters a 1-0 lead.

Williamsport’s Francisco Diaz led off the eighth with a single off Smith and Kenny Miramontes followed two batters later with a single to put runners on the corners.

With one out, Aaron Altherr lifted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Diaz and extended the Crosscutters’ lead to 2-0.

The Tigers threatened in the ninth inning with back-to-back singles from Dean Green and Tyler Collins. Javier Azcona put down a successful sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with just one out. However, Jeff Holm flew out and Patrick Leyland grounded out to end the game.

Smith went 72⁄3 innings, surrendering just two runs on nine hits and striking out three.

The Tigers will try to even the three-game series at 1:05 p.m., today, at Dodd Stadium.


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Crosscutters drop Tigers, 5-3.


The Bulletin

Posted Jul 24, 2011 @ 02:26 PM

Last update Jul 24, 2011 @ 04:00 PM

Norwich, Conn. — Williamsport scored twice in the sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie and beat the Connecticut Tigers, 5-3, af Dodd Stadium.

The Tigers played without manager Andrew Graham and pitching coach Jorge Cordova, both of whom were ejected after arguing a balk call in the sixth inning.

Williamsport forged ahead on RBI singles by Kyrell Hudson and Taylor Black following the ejectons in the sixth inning.

The Tigers (16-18) trailed 2-0 before scoring three times in the third inning. Chad Wright doubled home a run and Dean Green had a two-run single.

Williamsport (18-18) came back to tie the game in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Kyrell Hudson.

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Connecticut Tigers snap 4-game losing streak

By Staff reports

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 27, 2011 @ 11:15 PM

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Rested after a day off and away from the cavernous confines of Dodd Stadium, the Connecticut Tigers broke a four-game losing streak with a 9-6 win over Brooklyn on Tuesday.

Connecticut (17-20) scored what proved to be the game-winning runs in the seventh inning when Eugenio Suarez and Chad Wright, who had both singled, completed a double steal, advancing to second and third. Tyler Collins singled home Suarez and Wright came around on a sacrifice fly by Jason King.

Jeff Holm had three hits and two RBIs in the game for the Tigers while Zach Maggard and Suarez added two each. Luis Angel Sanz (4-2) went five innings to pick up the victory


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Connecticut Tigers lose on walkoff homer

By Staff reports

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 28, 2011 @ 10:56 PM

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Travis Taijeron’s one-out, solo home run in the bottom of the ninth lifted the Brooklyn Cyclones to a 2-1 win over the Connecticut Tigers on Thursday at MCU Park.

Tigers (17-21) reliever Fernando Celis (0-3) entered with the game tied, 1-1, and induced a fly ball out before Taijeron smashed a pitch to left field that gave the Cyclones (22-17) the walkoff win.

Connecticut provided some power of its own in the third inning when shortstop Eugenio Suarez hit his first homer of the season. Brooklyn came back with a Richard Lucas solo shot in the fourth, his fourth of the season, to tie the game.

Tigers starter Wilsen Palacios gave up just one run in 5 2/3 innings, surrendering three hits and striking out four in the no decision.

The Tigers will play the rubber game of the three-game series against the Cyclones at 7 p.m., tonight.

Connecticut Tigers lose on walkoff homer - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Collins' walk-off blast lifts Tigers.

The Bulletin

Posted Jul 30, 2011 @ 11:17 PM

NORWICH — Tyler Collins blasted a home run, his second of the game, to right field with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Connecticut Tigers a 5-4 win in the first game of a three-game series against the Batavia Muckdogs.

The game was tied, 4-4, in the top of the eighth when Batavia (21-21) scored on an RBI single by Daniel Stienstra.

Connecticut (18-22) scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth off of a one-out, two-run homer by Eugenio Suarez (2-for-6) that plated Colin Kaline (1-for-3, two walks) and Jeff Holm (1-for-4). Collins had a big day for Connecticut, going 3-for-6 with two RBIs.

Nick Avila got his second win of the season, pitching three innings of one-hit ball in relief. Matt Crouse started the game and surrendered two runs on four hits and struck out four in 41⁄3 innings.

Connecticut will take on Batavia at 1 p.m., today at Dodd Stadium in the second game of its three-game series before traveling to Auburn and Lowell for three and two games, respectively.

Collins' walk-off blast lifts Tigers - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Collier shines in Tigers' victory


The Bulletin

Posted Jul 31, 2011 @ 11:11 PM

Norwich, Conn. — Connecticut Tigers pitcher Tommy Collier had a stretch of about 18 hours that began and ended with surprises.

The first was a call from his father, who secretly flew in from Houston, Texas, to see Collier’s second pro start. The second was a cooler of ice water being emptied on his head after earning his first career victory, 8-2, over Batavia on Sunday at Dodd Stadium.

But the biggest surprise, though, is how well Collier has been pitching.

The 22nd-round pick of Detroit signed his first contract just over a week ago and, in two starts, has thrown 10 2/3 innings, allowing just one run while striking out 12.

Mixing all of his pitches, Collier took advantage of an overly aggressive group of Muckdogs (21-22). Fourteen of 21 batters saw first-pitch strikes.

“What I saw (Saturday), a lot of them swung early in counts,” Collier said. “I figured since they lost in 12 innings (Saturday) they would be aggressive again. I used the changeup early and made sure I had command with the fastball on the corners helped me a lot.”

Unlike in his first start where he didn’t factor in the decision, Collier got plenty of run support Sunday.

Leading, 2-1, going into the sixth inning, the Tigers (19-22) sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five times. The inning began with Jason King’s sixth home run of the season. Jeff Holm hit his fifth, a solo shot in the fourth.

Holm, who is hitting .217 but .333 over his last 10 games, went 2-for-4 and added an RBI single.

“It’s been rough. It’s been good but I’ve been working diligently with Scotty Dwyer the hitting coach and he’s just been coaching me through it,” Holm said. “Hopefully, I can just keep going up and up.”

Connecticut, which has four homers in its last two games, now has 28 — third most in the New York Penn-League. With Tyler Collins, Dean Green, King and Holm, not to mention newcomer and third-round pick Aaron Westlake, the heart of the lineup is becoming among the most imposing in the league.

“The team’s coming together and they’re starting to feel comfortable with their approach and their plan.,’ manager Andrew Graham said. “Plus, we’ve got some of our high draft picks, which is helping out a lot.”

The Tigers wrap up their three-game set with the Muckdogs tonight at 7 p.m.

Collier shines in Tigers' victory - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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(Not sure if this is one that you would've seen.)

Detroit Tigers - MLB | Prospects and promise abound in Connecticut | The Detroit News

Last Updated: August 01. 2011 1:17PM

Tigers: Minor league report

Prospects and promise abound in Connecticut

Lynn Henning/ The Detroit News

Prospects leave. Prospects arrive. If a big-league team's scouts are doing their job, you replace, develop, cull, trade, promote, and at the end of a season have a couple of people who will help the 25-man roster and maybe enough to trade for your missing parts.

Single A Connecticut's 2011 roster is one to recall as future spring rosters and July trade deadlines arrive.

Dean Green, 22, is a 6-foot-4, 255-pound, left-handed hitter who was grabbed by the Tigers in the 11th round of the draft in June. He's batting .331 in 33 games, with three home runs, eight doubles and an .864 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

Patrick Leyland, 19, is the son of a big-league manager Tigers followers might be familiar with: Jim Leyland. The son is doing nicely, batting .297 in 19 games, with three doubles and a .375 on-base percentage. He has struck out only six times in 64 at-bats.

Tyler Collins was the Tigers' sixth-round pick in June following a three-year career at Howard College in Texas. He's 5-11, 205 pounds, bats left-handed, plays the outfield, and is hitting .289 with an .868 OPS in 10 games, which includes a pair of home runs in Saturday night's 5-4 victory over Batavia.

Javier Azcona, 19, is batting .325 in his last 11 games, with one home run and five doubles.

Green has the most raw power of the group, which was known when he was nabbed out of small Barry University in Florida, his senior-year stop after three years at Oklahoma State. It's a long story, but Green and the Cowboys figured he was going to be drafted in 2010 and his scholarship ended up in other hands.

The Tigers kept track, and Green seemed to them an 11th-round bargain.

"I like his swing," Toby Harrah, the Tigers' roving minor-league batting instructor, said Sunday from Toledo where he was monitoring the Triple A Mud Hens. "And I like that he uses the whole field.

"For me, the toughest hitters to get out, the RBI guys, are the guys who hit to all fields. It also gives you the best chance to hit breaking balls and changeups. And that, of course, is usually the toughest challenge for young hitters."

Green becomes part of a first-base food chain within the Tigers' farm system that includes Green's new teammate, Aaron Westlake, the Georgia Tech slugger who was the Tigers' third-round pick in June.

James Robbins, 20, is one-quarter of a talented infield at West Michigan that spans third baseman Nick Castellanos, shortstop Dixon Machado, and second baseman Hernan Perez.

Ryan Strieby at Toledo, Tony Plagman at Single A Lakeland, and Rawley Bishop at Double A Erie, are also part of the litter, which suggests someone will be headed to a new position while Miguel Cabrera is entrenched in Detroit.

But it isn't only first base that's showing promise at Connecticut.

Leyland was part of the Tigers' push to stock their catching shelves when he was drafted in the eighth round of the 2010 draft.

He's 6-2, 200 pounds, bats right-handed, and as with all 19-year-olds, figures to add muscle and more size as he heads into his 20s.

"He's tough — I told his dad that," Harrah said. "His swing works. And he battles. He has a tendency to pull the ball a bit too much, but you can see that he's getting stronger each game.

"He has no real holes in his swing. He just needs to continue to play. His bat speed will get better as he grows up. He's a young man playing with men much older than himself, and catching is the toughest position on the field."

Collins is a fireplug of an outfielder, thick but athletic, while Collins is a switch-hitter who won over David Chadd and his staff during Collins' years at Wichita State.

Where they end up is up to their skills and time. But that's always the case with prospects who impress from the start and who, in most cases, find their way to the big leagues as promotions or trade chips.

From The Detroit News: Detroit Tigers - MLB | Prospects and promise abound in Connecticut | The Detroit News

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Tigers fumble chance for sweep

The Bulletin

Posted Aug 01, 2011 @ 11:23 PM

Norwich, Conn. — The fans at Dodd Stadium were treated to a constant fireworks show thanks to some spectacular cloud-to-cloud lightning.

Unfortunately, the electricity on the field for the Connecticut Tigers wasn’t as long-lasting.

Connecticut scored two runs and had half of its hits in the first inning, but Batavia pitchers settled in and allowed just one run and three hits over the last eight innings. The Muckdogs took advantage of that and avoided the three-game sweep with a 5-3 win over the Tigers in the series finale between the two Monday night.

That was the bad news. The good news for the Tigers was that for the third time in the last four home series, the Tigers recorded wins in two of the three games.

“We were going for the sweep. We haven’t had one all year and it would have been nice, especially coming off winning one of the last six before this (series),” Connecticut manager Andrew Graham said. “That’s what we wanted (Monday) and we should have had.”

An inopportune error and a missed opportunity late in the game prevented that from happening.

With the game tied at 3, Batavia’s Virgil Hill sent a one-out triple — his fifth of the season, tying him with former Montville High standout Taylor Lewis and his State College teammate, Kirk Singer, for second in the New York-Penn League — to right field.

A ground out left Hill at third and the Tigers (19-23) appeared out of the inning when Danny Steinstra popped a pitch foul just four or five steps behind the first base bag. Third-round pick Aaron Westlake watched it fall from his glove, his second error of the game.

“He played at a D-I college (Vanderbilt), big crowds and went to the (College) World Series, but you’re playing professional now and they put too much pressure on themselves,” Graham said of Westlake’s fielding woes. “As soon as he calms down, he will be fine.”

Steinstra took advantage of the second life. He knocked home what proved to be the game-winning run with a single to left.

Batavia (22-22) added an insurance run in the seventh inning, but Connecticut had a chance in the eighth. Eugenio Suarez and Tyler Collins walked on four pitches and moved up on a sacrifice by Westlake. Jason King then ripped one right at Batavia shortstop Cesar Valera.

“That was the hardest hit ball I think I’ve ever seen. I almost didn’t see it,” Collins said.

What’s worse, it passed to his left side as he was several feet off the bag at second and had no chance of getting back.

“Those kids were already in the dugout before I realized what was going on,” Collins said of being doubled off.

Collins had two hits in three trips to raise his average to .317 and added his sixth RBI of the season.

“I wasn’t trusting myself at first and now I’m letting the ball get deeper in my stance,” Collins said. “(I’m) just using my hands more and trying to be more effortless with my swing. It’s paying off.”


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Connecticut Tigers swept in doubleheader

By Staff reports

For The Bulletin

Posted Aug 04, 2011 @ 11:48 PM

AUBURN, N.Y. — The Connecticut Tigers were swept, 6-5 and 6-3, in a doubleheader Thursday against the Auburn Doubledays.

In the first game, Connecticut (19-26) wasted a four-run lead and lost in the bottom of the ninth.

Fernando Celis gave up a two-out double to Bryce Ortega and a single to Matthew Skole to end the game.

The Tigers scored one run in the first and second innings, and then added two in the fifth.

Tyler Collins singled, moved to second on a walk and scored on an error on Jason King’s forceout. A wild pitch advanced King, who came home on Aaron Westlake’s single to center.

The Doubledays struck back in the bottom half of the inning, cutting the Tigers’ lead in half. The big blow was a two-run, two out triple by Billy Burns.

After the Tigers tacked on another run in the seventh, but Auburn scored three runs in the seventh off of starter Brennan Smith and reliever Melvin Mercedes.

The Doubledays then snapped the 5-5 tie in the ninth.

In the second game, the Doubledays (28-19), leaders of the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League, rode the momentum from the walkoff win and put up three runs in the first inning and two more in the second to take a commanding, 5-0 lead early.

Tyler Collins’ RBI double, Dean Green’s sacrifice fly and Samir Rijo’s RBI single in the third cut the deficit to two but the pitching duo of Travis Henke and Aaron Barrett shut the Tigers down the rest of the way.

Connecticut heads to Lowell for two games in the next two days. Today’s game starts at at 7:05 p.m.

Connecticut Tigers swept in doubleheader - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Tigers snap losing streak.

By Anonymous

The Bulletin

Posted Aug 05, 2011 @ 11:11 PM

LOWELL, Mass. — Aaron Westlake homered and the Tigers scored four runs on the first inning as they dominated Lowell, 6-1, on Friday at LeLacheur Park.

With the win, Connecticut (20-26) ended a four-game slide and took second place in the New York-Penn League’s Stedler Division. The Tigers trail Vermont by 3 1/2 games.

Tyler Collins got things started in the first inning with a single and stole second base. Spinners starter Tyler Wilson (2-3) then plunked Jason King and the next batter, Dean Green, hit a double to score both Collins and King.

Things got worse for Lowell when the next batter, Westlake (three RBIs), smashed a two-run homer to right field.

Connecticut pitchers held up the offensive drive. Starter Matt Crouse struck out five batters and walked three while allowing the Spinners’ only run on three hits in five innings of work.

He was followed by Rayni Guichardo, who retired 10 straight Spinners batters before giving up two hits and earning his first save of the season.

Green finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored and Zach Maggard was 2-for-5 with an RBI for Connecticut.

The Tigers play the Spinners again today at 5:05 p.m., in Lowell, Mass.

Tigers snap losing streak - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Tigers falter on the road, split series

By Anonymous

The Bulletin

Posted Aug 06, 2011 @ 10:37 PM

LOWELL, Mass. — The Connecticut Tigers fell victims to an early deficit and lost, 6-2, to Stedler Division foe Lowell on Saturday at LeLacheur Park.

The Spinners, the New York-Penn League affiliate of the Boston Red Sox who saw the Tigers jump out to a four-run lead in the first inning of Connecticut’s 6-1 win Friday, got four hits in a row to start the bottom of the first and saw five men reach base.

Lowell scored two runs in the frame and added two more in the second to take a 4-0 lead.

Connecticut (20-27) cut the deficit in half with a run in the third and fourth innings, on a wild pitch that plated Colin Kaline and a Dean Green’s fourth ome run of the season, respectively

Lowell (21-28) ended the threat of a Connecticut comeback in the sixth inning when Matthew Marquis belted his first homer of the season in the first at-bat of the frame and Ryan Kalish singled home Joantoni Garcia to widen the Spinners’ lead to 6-2.

Kalish, dealing with a shoulder injury, was making a rehab start. The outfielder batted .252 and drove in 24 runs for the Red Sox last season in 53 games and 163 at-bats.

Another player Red Sox fans should know, Felix Doubront, started the game as part of his rehab from Triple-A Pawtucket. He retired all six batters he faced in his two innings of work, striking out four.

The Tigers will head back to Dodd Stadium to begin a five-game homestand with a two-game series against Lowell begnning at 1:05 p.m., today.

Tigers falter on the road, split series - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Tigers split doubleheader with Jammers.

By Anonymous

The Bulletin

Posted Aug 10, 2011 @ 11:29 PM

Last update Aug 10, 2011 @ 11:50 PM

Norwich, Conn. — Failing to take advantage of an opportunity to potentially move within one game in the New York Penn-League’s Stedler Division, the Connecticut Tigers squandered a 4-0 lead in the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday with Jamestown and ultimately fell, 8-4, in eight innings.

The Tigers won the opener, 6-0, on a two-hit, complete-game effort from Wilsen Palacios.

Melvin Mercedes started the sixth inning of game two, his second inning of relief, with a four-run lead. After getting the first out, a single, error and walk loaded the bases.

A force-out grounder gone awry allowed two runs to score before Jeff Barfield came on to replace Mercedes.

A double and a single balanced out the scoring until the eighth.

Rayni Guichardo opened the frame with a walk, RBI double and RBI single. A one-out, two-run single by Rand Smith capped the scoring.

Connecticut was hurt by its 5-9 hitters combining for 0-for-16 at the plate.

Striking first

In the opener, Palacios was staked to a four-run lead in the first against the Jammers and never looked back.

Palacios (3-3) walked one and struck out one.

Javier Azcona was 2-for-2 with three RBIs and a home run.

Connecticut came into the game trailing first-place Vermont by two games. The Lake Monsters played two games with Auburn. Vermont lost the first game; the second ended late.

Connecticut wraps up its season series with Jamestown at 7 p.m. tonight at Dodd Stadium.

Tigers split doubleheader with Jammers - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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All-Stars lift Tigers to win.

By Anonymous

The Bulletin

Posted Aug 11, 2011 @ 11:06 PM

Norwich, Conn. — Connecticut’s two all-stars, Brennan Smith and Dean Green, lived up to their titles Thursday.

Smith pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while fanning five, and Green went 2-for-4 with two home runs to guide Connecticut to a 6-0 victory over Jamestown at Dodd Stadium

Green, who improved his batting average to a New York-Penn-leading .366, hit a solo shot in the fourth and a two-run blast an inning later. He now has six homers and his 30 RBIs are good for ninth in the league.

Smith, who like Green, was named to the league’s All-Star Game slated for next week in Lowell, Mass., earned his second win of the season against three losses.

He lowered his ERA to 2.10, which ranks third.

After allowing a lead-off double to the Jammers’ Ryan Goetz in the first, he retired six of the next seven batters he faced. The first two batters he faced in the third inning reached base, but he retired 14 of the next 15 before turning the game over to Nick Avila.

The Tigers (23-28) have won four of their last six games and are two games out of first in the Stedler Division.

Connecticut begins a three-game series at State College. Former Montville standout Taylor Lewis is a member of the Spikes. Tonight’s game is at 7:05 p.m.

All-Stars lift Tigers to win - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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Dean Green continues to power Connecticut Tigers

By Staff reports

The Bulletin

Posted Aug 12, 2011 @ 11:08 PM

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Dean Green continued his torrid hitting season for the Connecticut Tigers on Friday, driving in two runs to support a solid start from Matt Crouse and lead the visitors to a 4-1 win over the State College Spikes at Medlar Field.

Green, who leads the New York-Penn League in batting average and has an RBI in each of his last four games, tied the game at 1-1 in the sixth inning when his single plated Tyler Collins. He helped jumpstart the eighth inning for the Tigers, slapping another RBI single as Connecticut (24-28) extended its lead to 4-1 after Aaron Westlake came home on a wild pitch.

Jason King accounted for the Tigers’ other run when he plated Westlake with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Crouse gave up a run on four hits through five innings of work to earn his third win of the season and second in a row. Melvin Mercedes picked up his first save of the season.

The Tigers will play the Spikes (22-33) again in the second game of their three-game series at 7:05 p.m., tonight.

Dean Green continues to power Connecticut Tigers - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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