With all of the Elias stuff, I've run a bit behind on the Tigers' transactions. They have been very active since the end of the season, hitting the independent leagues pretty hard.
Arguably, the best of them all is Mike LaLuna, who went undrafted in the 2008 draft and was rated as the top Indy League prospect by Baseball America. He's probably a reliever, and would seem to be headed towards West Michigan or Lakeland in the spring.
Charlie Lisk, is a catcher originally drafted by the White Sox in 2001. He seems like a depth, organizational backup type. If he's anywhere, he's filling a hole in Toledo, Erie, or Lakeland and probably not starting anywhere.
Beau Torbert, an outfielder, had advanced to AAA in the Astros system before being released. Too early to make a call on him, but you'd have to think there will be some spots in Erie's outfield.
Kris Regas is a pitcher and kind of an interesting story. He's teaches college math in the offseason and will now be going to camp looking for a minor league job.
Chad Linder, a left-handed pitcher, is the final signing. Just a year and a half removed from college, he seems destined for a spot in A ball next year.
This is after the team went out and signed pitchers Scot Drucker and Josh Kite from the independent leagues this summer.
In other transactions-related news, Francis Beltran and Francisco Cruceta are free agents. Both were members of the pen this year and both struggled with the big league club despite pitching well for Toledo down the stretch. You would have to think that they will be headed elsewhere next season. The other minor league free agents will be announced after the World Series is over. The ones who have filed so far are excercising their right to refuse outright assignments. There have been over 80 players in the league who have done so, some of them are intriguing. I'm hoping to have the time to sort through some of these possible free talent grabs.
Now Tigstown is confirming the releases of the following players: Hayden Parrott, Cory Middleton, Justin Justice, PJ Finigan, Angel Castro, Danny Zell, Derek Witt, Zach Piccola, and Kelvin Cedano. That's a list full of mostly top 20 draft picks. Parrott and Middleton were highly regarded coming out of high school but have failed to live up to expectations. Justin Justice had a fine year for Lakeland this year, but always seemed to be slow to adjust upon promotions. Angel Castro is probably the biggest surprise of this bunch, as he was one of Erie's best pitchers this year. Finigan never recovered from his Tommy John surgery, which is a bit troubling. Had he not had those problems, he probably would have been one of the guys in line to break into the Tigers' battered pen. Zell seemed to plateau with Erie and wasn't going to be taking a step forward. Witt moved quickly after the draft, but has been strictly a low ceiling A ball reliever the past two years. Zach Piccola missed all of this year with arm problems after really stinking up the joint in 2006-07. Finally Kelvin Cedano had some promise coming out of the Domincan Leagues, but struggled big time between West Michigan and Oneonta this year.
It looks like this was an attempt to clear room in Erie's bullpen for the arrival of a ton of big arms who finished this year in Lakeland, such as Perry, Satterwhite, Sborz, Simons, and Weinhardt. There wasn't going to be room for guys like Castro and Zell, so they may have just been doing them a favor by letting them look for work now.
And a few more cuts via Tigstown. Dario Carvajal, Brandon Harrigan, Hayden Lackey, Santo Mieses, Kyle Pearson, and Carlos Ramirez. Carvajal is a relief pitcher who has struggled to get past the GCL. Harrigan would have been better off forgetting to carry a bat to the plate in the GCL. Lackey had a fine season, but was an undrafted free agent a bit old for the GCL. Mieses bounced around this year between four levels, so the writing had to have been on the wall. Kyle Pearson was picked up in the trade for Denny Bautista, but had shoulder problems all year. Finally, Carlos Ramirez played some first and third for Oneonta, but ultimately struggled to do much of anything in the minors.
It's interesting that the hatchet came down now on all of these guys. The Rule 5 eligibility has been updated to show these releases.