The Tigers recently made two moves. They placed Alex Avila on the DL and designated Omir Santos for assignment. They promoted catcher Byan Holaday and relief pitcher Jose Ortega to take their spots on the roster. The following players have been, at one time or another, on the 25-man roster that started the year in AAA: Holaday, Ortega, Drew Smyly, Casey Crosby, Luke Putkonen, Brayan Villarreal, Adam Wilk, Thad Weber, Quintin Berry, Matt Young, Omir Santos, Brad Eldred, Clete Thomas. That’s 13 players and we’re barely in June. If my calculations are correct, the Tigers had 16 players on their roster last year who started in the minors, and that includes September call-ups.
Bryan Holaday is a right-handed batter that had a stat line of .248/.313/.314, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 11 BB, 23 K in 137 PA in AAA. He has a career stat line of .238/.314/.343, 10 HR, 64 RBI, 59 BB, 142 K in 696 PA spanning 3 years in the minors. He was drafted out of college and immediately got placed in High-A ball and then moved to AA in 2011 and AAA in 2012. His strong defensive skills (38.5% caught stealing rate this year) probably helped him speed through the minors and eventually to the majors. His numbers don’t suggest that he’ll be any more than a back-up at the ML level, and unless he’s very, very good at defense he probably won’t last long. I’ve read that he does have strong leadership qualities, so that should help too.
Holaday was batting .333/.385/.417 against left-handed pitching, but that’s only in 28 PA. In 2011 he was hitting .169/.247/.277 against left-handed pitching, so his improvement is most likely due to small sampling. He did improve on his LD rate, 17.6% from 14.4% in 2011, so that’s a positive. Yeah, there’s really not much to look at there, except to hope that he’s really good on defense.
Bryan Holaday is starting today and batting 9th, so we should know soon enough how good he is at defense.
Jose Ortega was once ranked #10 Tigers prospect by Baseball-America in 2011. He’s a right-handed pitcher, who had 29 IP, 4.03 ERA, 1.897 WHIP, 9.0 BB/9, 11.5 K/9, 3.89 FIP, 4.55 SIERA. Yikes, look at that walk rate! He throws a mid-90s fastball that he apparently needs help commanding. It gives him a good strikeout rate, but a terrible walk rate.
Left-handers are hitting .216/.463/.270 against him and right-handers are hitting .257/.369/.371 against him. He looks like he’ll be a pretty solid pitcher that can get both lefties and righties out, if he can just get better command and control on his pitches.
I’m predicting that it’ll be a short stay for Ortega as he just doesn’t look ready for prime time.