TigsTown Winter Notebook: 12/17/07

Guzman has been hot of late.

As we approach the holiday season, the Caribbean baseball leagues are heating up and roles are being settled for many Tiger players. While some are fading into reserve roles, others are becoming critical components of their team's drive for post season play.

Starting in the Venezuelan Winter League, right-hander Guillermo Moscoso turned in mixed results; allowing two runs in one outing, and dominating with four strikeouts in another. Since our last update, he managed to get saddled with a loss in 4-2/3 innings of relief work, striking out a total of six but allowing six hits along the way.

In the Dominican, the recently acquired Freddy Guzman put together a nice week for Leones, notching a 6-for-19 showing with one home run. His recent burst gives him a .326 batting average and six extra-base hits for the winter season. Playing alongside Guzman is Detroit's backup shortstop, Ramon Santiago. While still working sparingly, Ramon continues to struggle, going only 1-for-11 since the last update, lowering his season average to .243.

Gigantes of the Dominican League has several Tigers seeing action, including one of the Tigers newer acquisitions, Francisco Cruceta. While he has been dominating for much of the off-season, Cruceta's dominance evaporated in his 2-1/3 innings of work over the last two weeks, as he walked two, gave up two hits, and struck out only one. His performance has sill been impressive, but any downturns in production bear watching as he tries to make the Opening Day roster in Detroit. Also working in the Gigantes bullpen is Toledo's 2007 closer Aquilino Lopez; who worked three more dominant innings while striking out two.

Recently acquired in exchange for reliever Jose Capellan, Denny Bautista is starting to put things together with Estrellas. In four innings of work over the last ten days, Denny notched a save and allowed only one run while work some high pressure innings. As the season winds down, outfielder Michael Hernandez appears to be gaining favor with the Aguilas coaching staff, heading to the plate eleven times over the last two weeks. With three hits, including a home run, he could earn more at-bats as the post season draws nearer.

Infielder Max Leon has found a nice role as a regular in the Mexican Pacific League, notching a .317 average (13-for-41) in recent playing time, with a home run and six runs driven in for Culiacan. His recent run of positive performance has boosted his season line to .277/.325/.330 in 37 games.

Quick Hits: Another recently signed minor league reliever, Marcelo Perez had a rough two outings for Estrellas, and hasn't pitched in over a month……The Tigers opted to bring back lefty Jon Connolly for another tour through their minor league system, and they hope to see him get additional action with Gigantes throughout the winter……With Vance Wilson's status up in the air, the Tigers have been rumored to have interest in former Florida catcher Miguel Olivo, who went 2-for-17 for Leones the last two weeks……Outfielder Jason Perry finally saw action again for Leones last week, coming in as a defensive replacement; his first action in nearly a month……Ben Fritz hasn't taken the mound for Leones del Caracas since coming over in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, and he is unlikely to log additional winter innings.

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