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Jones among Tigers' prospects to play in AFL

KANSAS CITY -- JaCoby Jones will take his breakout prospect status with the Tigers and put it to the test against some of the top young players in the game in the Arizona Fall League.

Jones, who came over from Pittsburgh in the Joakim Soria trade and more than held his own at Double-A Erie, was one of seven Tigers Minor Leaguers assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions, joining prospects from the Giants, Indians, Red Sox and Twins organizations. Nelson Santovenia, who worked at Class A Advanced Lakeland this year, will serve as one of the hitting coaches.

Joining Jones in Scottsdale will be relievers Jeff Ferrell, Adam Ravenelle and Montreal Robertson, starter Austin Kubitza, first baseman Dominic Ficociello and outfielder Michael Gerber.

Jones made Tigers fans feel better about trading their closer with a three-homer game in his third game for the SeaWolves, three days after the deal and a week after being promoted from the Class A Florida State League. He had three solo shots the rest of the way, but finished with a .265 average (30-for-113), six doubles, six homers and 18 RBIs in 30 games at Erie.

Though some see Jones' future as an outfielder, he has played shortstop exclusively in the Minors. The Tigers' preference right now is for him to do the same in the Fall League, though that could depend on his best opportunity to get playing time there.

Ferrell is the only one off the group who has seen time in the Majors, a reflection of his rapid rise up the developmental system once he converted to relief. The 24-year-old went from struggling starter at Erie at last year to a dominant closer at the same level, then made it to the Majors in July.

Ferrell pitched just twice in a Tigers uniform before being sent to Triple-A Toledo, where he finished out the summer. He could still end up getting more big league time with expanded rosters once the Mud Hens' season ends next week.

Kubitza will get a chance to rebound after experiencing growing pains from the two-level jump to Double-A, where he's 8-12 with a 5.84 ERA in 25 starts this season and allowed 173 hits over 121 2/3 innings. It was a stark contrast from his 10-2 record and a 2.34 ERA last year at Class A West Michigan.

Robertson pitched split this season in the bullpen between Lakeland and Erie, posting a 4-10 record and a 3.55 ERA with two saves in 32 appearances between the two. He allowed 60 hits over 63 1/3 innings, walking 32 while striking out 56.

The 23-year-old Ficociello made the same jump and showed offensive growth this year at first base, batting .297 with eight homers and 57 RBIs in 122 games.

Gerber gets a nice test after very good first full season at West Michigan, where he batted .296 with 29 doubles, 10 triples, 12 homers, 71 RBIs. The former Creighton University product turned 23 in July. The same applies to Ravenelle, who pitched just 19 times this season, but he had some promising appearances out of the bullpen when he was with the Whitecaps.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.
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