Detroit Tigers: Mudhens Play Role in Big Club's Turnaround

Austin DrakeSenior Analyst IJune 29, 2008

Before the start of the 2008 season, you would have only pictured the Justin Verlanders of the Detroit Tigers winning games and the Miguel Cabreras and Magglio Ordonezs hitting the home runs...

Well, that is definitely not the case so far this season. Many Triple-A (Toledo Mud Hens) players that were not even supposed to make it to the show this year, or even in the next few years, have rejuvenated the slumping Tigers into what they are today—a few games back of the AL Central lead.

With the off-and-on injuries to Dontrelle Willis, Armando Galarraga has stepped up and been the saving grace for the Tigers' pitching staff this season.

Outfielders like Matt Joyce, Brent Clevlen, and Clete Thomas have all played great in place for starters like Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez, and, before he was traded, Jacque Jones.

Recently call-up Dane Sardinha has been catching some games for the Tigers, and his first big league hit versus the Rockies was a two-RBI triple to push the Tigers ahead in the game.

So with all due respect to the Tigers' veterans, here are the Mudhens/Tigers that saved the season:

SP Armando Galarraga: 7-2 this season filling in for struggling Dontrelle Willis. Some say he has been the Tigers' best pitcher this season.

RP Freddy Dolsi: Another dominant arm out of the Tigers 'pen. Throws his fastball between 92-96 MPH and against lefties has a .213 BAA.

SP Eddie Bonine: Went 9-2 with Toledo before being called up and is 2-0 in three starts. Last start versus Colorado, he went eight innings allowing only one earned run.

C Dane Sardinha: The Honolulu native has caught two games and has not made an error. He hit a game-winning, two-RBI triple to beat Colorado.

SS Mike Holliman: Has played almost perfect defense and shows a great amount of hustle. Has two doubles and triple in his four hits this season.

1B Jeff Larish: Provides a lot of pop to the back end of the order and is 2 for 2 in pinch hitting roles this season. His one homer was measured over 400'.

OF Brent Clevlen: Didn't have the greatest performance at the plate while in the Majors, but threw two runners out at the plate and played outstanding defense.

OF Clete Thomas: Is batting .333 in 81 at bats this season. Beat the Cardinals with two bases loaded walks last week and has a ton opposite field hits.

OF Matt Joyce: Just got called up again for Ordonez. He hit five home runs in 53 at bats earlier in the year. He also had several multiple-RBI games.

Those young players have really excelled the Tigers to make a turnaround in their division this season.

If I could talk to Triple-A Toledo coaches like Larry Parrish, Bull Durham, and AJ Sager, all I would say would be: Keep up the good work, and you're doing a great job developing inexperienced ballplayers.