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Fiers puts on show for interested market in win

Starter throws 6 1/3 shutout frames vs. red-hot Red Sox as non-waiver Trade Deadline looms
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The better Mike Fiers pitches for the Tigers, the more likely it is that he'll become a former Tiger. As Justin Verlander can attest, that's how the non-waiver Trade Deadline works.

"I have to start pitching bad? Is that what you're trying to say?" Fiers teased after shutting down the Red Sox's offense for 6 1/3 innings in Detroit's 5-0 win Saturday night at Comerica Park.

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DETROIT -- The better Mike Fiers pitches for the Tigers, the more likely it is that he'll become a former Tiger. As Justin Verlander can attest, that's how the non-waiver Trade Deadline works.

"I have to start pitching bad? Is that what you're trying to say?" Fiers teased after shutting down the Red Sox's offense for 6 1/3 innings in Detroit's 5-0 win Saturday night at Comerica Park.

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Fiers knows the process. He has been through it already, traded to the Astros at the Deadline three years ago in a deal that brought Carlos Gomez to Houston and sent four eventual big leaguers to Milwaukee. It's what the Tigers had in mind when they signed Fiers last offseason during their rebuild.

It wasn't about keeping up with the Red Sox, though Tigers pitching has held Boston scoreless for 17 consecutive innings this series. The 33-year-old's Tigers tenure was about helping Fiers get back to form, then helping Detroit accumulate prospects to someday contend again. Now, with Michael Fulmer shelved with a left oblique strain, Fiers could be Detroit's most attractive trade candidate, with scouts beginning to gather.

"Oh yeah, you see it," Fiers said. "You see your name pop up here and there. But it happens all the time. I just have to keep my mind focused on baseball and pitching, and go out there every fifth day. … Whether I go to a different team or not, it's still baseball. Just play in a different city. But right now, I'm playing for the Tigers, and I'm playing here."

Fiers (7-6) has allowed just six runs in 33 1/3 innings over his last five starts, walking six and striking out 24. Three of those outings have come against potential playoff teams in the Red Sox, Astros and A's. His earned run average has dropped from 4.29 to 3.49 in that span.

With a handful of scouts in attendance -- and the Red Sox reportedly watching closely -- Fiers kept it up by holding one of baseball's most productive offenses to seven singles while striking out six, flummoxing dangerous hitters with a low-90s fastball.

"I think he had a little extra zip on his fastball today," catcher John Hicks said. "And we used that very well, especially with two strikes."

That fastball drew nine swinging strikes, eight called strikes and lots of soft contact. He used three consecutive fastballs to strike out Xander Bogaerts twice, including with runners at the corners in the fifth inning.

Video: BOS@DET: Fiers escapes jam, finishes 5 shutout frames

"He hides the ball really well," Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He has a big, long arm coming over the top. He also has great arm speed with his pitches. He can throw a great changeup right out of the same delivery that he throws a fastball, and you really can't pick it up. He's been doing it a long time. I've seen him do it for a lot of teams. He just makes the ball disappear."

The more Fiers does that now, the more likely he is to disappear. He's not an ace for a contender, nor is he the kind of up-and-coming, controllable young arm teams covet. But with veteran experience and another season of control -- he's arbitration-eligible this winter -- he can appeal to a team looking to fill out its rotation.

"Pitching in the playoffs, pitching in a World Series, trying to win a World Series, I think that's everyone's goal here in baseball," Fiers said. "It's always more fun when you win and you're on a team that's fighting for that. But like I've said, I love it here. My first year here, and these guys are great. I love playing with them and competing with them."

The Tigers had been shut out in three of Fiers' previous five starts, and had topped three runs in just five of 15 games this month. Former Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias topped that number with a pair of two-out swings, doubling home two runs with a second-inning drive into the left-field corner off lefty starter Brian Johnson (1-3) before adding a two-run homer in the sixth inning off Tyler Thornburg.

Video: BOS@DET: Iglesias belts 2-run homer to pad the lead

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Speaking of former Red Sox: Six of Boston's seven hits off Fiers came after the third trip through the order, including back-to-back one-out singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi with one out in the seventh. Alex Wilson, a former Red Sox reliever who landed in Detroit four years ago in the Rick Porcello trade, replaced Fiers and induced an inning-ending double play from Bogaerts.

Video: BOS@DET: Candelario starts crucial double play in 7th

SOUND SMART
Both of Iglesias' two-RBI hits scored Victor Martinez, who hadn't scored twice in a game since Aug. 15, 2017, and hadn't scored twice in a game without hitting a homer since July 17 of that season.

Video: BOS@DET: Iglesias smacks 2-run double down the line

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Leonys Martin, playing his second game since returning from the disabled list, nearly had his first home run since June 10. But Betts, playing right field Saturday with Jackie Bradley Jr. back in center, brought back the opposite-field loft with a leaping catch at the wall, reaching over the top for the grab.

Video: Must C Catch: Betts brings back a home run

HE SAID IT
"Maybe I was just mad that J.D. wasn't in there, kind of ducking me today. We've been talking about it all year, and I think he told [Red Sox manager Alex] Cora to take a day off. I wasn't very pleased with that." -- Fiers, on not facing Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez, his old teammate at Nova Southeastern University. Martinez is 7-for-14 with two doubles and two home runs lifetime against him.

UP NEXT
Blaine Hardy (3-2, 3.31 ERA) rejoins the Tigers' rotation in place of the injured Fulmer as the three-game series against the Red Sox concludes Sunday with a 1:10 p.m. ET matinee at Comerica Park. Boston will counter with Chris Sale (10-4, 2.23).

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Mike Fiers

Aggravated Fulmer: "I was feeling healthy"

Tigers righty frustrated over recent trip to DL with left oblique strain
MLB.com

DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer's frustration over a left oblique strain that sent him to the 10-day disabled list was evident when he spoke with members of the media Saturday before the Tigers' game against the Red Sox at Comerica Park.

Fulmer was throwing a bullpen Friday when he felt discomfort in his oblique. He tried throwing another pitch, and that's when it cramped.

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DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer's frustration over a left oblique strain that sent him to the 10-day disabled list was evident when he spoke with members of the media Saturday before the Tigers' game against the Red Sox at Comerica Park.

Fulmer was throwing a bullpen Friday when he felt discomfort in his oblique. He tried throwing another pitch, and that's when it cramped.

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"I know it hasn't been the best year for me," Fulmer said, "but the most aggravating thing for me is that I was feeling healthy. My arm has never felt better at this time during the year. Usually it gets fatigued around the All-Star break. This year I felt like I was staying strong."

On Friday, the Tigers recalled reliever Victor Alcantara from Triple-A Toledo to take Fulmer's spot on the 25-man roster.

Fulmer has struggled through stretches this season and is 3-9 with a 4.50 ERA, but at least he was healthy. Fulmer dealt with ulnar nerve issues in his right (throwing) elbow last season before undergoing surgery in September.

Injuries have turned the Tigers' starting rotation into a revolving door at times, but Fulmer was able to stay in the mix.

"It was almost kind of a too-good-to-be-true thing," he said.

Fulmer said he played catch during the All-Star break to stay loose and was doing what he would normally do leading up to a start.

"It's not like I went out there cold and didn't warm up properly, or this or that," Fulmer said. "I did everything I would usually do for my normal routine. It didn't feel tight. It was just one of those things where it just happened. Nothing you can do about it."

Taking Fulmer's place in the rotation is lefty reliever Blaine Hardy, who will start Sunday against the Red Sox. Hardy has gained plenty of starting experience this season while patching up the rotation when starters get hurt, posting a 3.71 ERA in eight starts. Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said Hardy will likely be limited to 50-60 pitches.

Video: DET@TOR: Hardy retires Travis to notch save in extras

Gardenhire said Hardy will remain in the rotation until Fulmer returns, meaning the Tigers are back to having one left-handed reliever in the bullpen in Daniel Stumpf, who faced one batter in Friday's 1-0 loss. But as the lone lefty, Stumpf will be counted on to make longer appearances.

"That one-hitter thing is going to have to change with him," Gardenhire said. "He's going to have to pitch innings now, not just outs."

A candidate to fill in for Fulmer was right-handed reliever Artie Lewicki, who's made two starts for the Tigers this season and is currently with Triple-A Toledo. But Gardenhire indicated that Lewicki will remain in Toledo to keep his arm stretched out in case of other changes to Detroit's starting rotation, which increases in likelihood as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer

Young Tigers fan excited to catch Betts' foul

Almost every kid who goes to a baseball game wants to catch a foul ball. Who wouldn't want that kind of permanent souvenir of a trip to the ballpark? It doesn't even matter if someone from the other team hits it -- it's still glorious.

Just ask this young fan at Comerica Park who made a nice catch on Mookie Betts' foul ball in the top of the third inning during Saturday's 5-0 Tigers win. He was wearing a Miguel Cabrera T-shirt, but that didn't mean he was any less excited after reeling it in.

Boyd strong, but Tigers offensive woes continue

1-0 loss is Detroit's fourth of the season
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The last time Matthew Boyd won a game, he held the mighty Red Sox offense to two runs on June 7 at Fenway Park. He topped that on Friday, holding the Red Sox to one run. He remains winless thanks to David Price, the American League Cy Young winner for whom he was once traded, and the offense that struggled to support him.

"We did a heckuva job shutting them down offensively, and that doesn't happen very often," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said following Detroit's 1-0 loss. "They only scored one run tonight, and that team can really score. There's a lot of good things that happened, but the bottom line is we lost, and it doesn't feel very good in this clubhouse right now.

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DETROIT -- The last time Matthew Boyd won a game, he held the mighty Red Sox offense to two runs on June 7 at Fenway Park. He topped that on Friday, holding the Red Sox to one run. He remains winless thanks to David Price, the American League Cy Young winner for whom he was once traded, and the offense that struggled to support him.

"We did a heckuva job shutting them down offensively, and that doesn't happen very often," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said following Detroit's 1-0 loss. "They only scored one run tonight, and that team can really score. There's a lot of good things that happened, but the bottom line is we lost, and it doesn't feel very good in this clubhouse right now.

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"We need to win ball games. We need to find a way to get those big hits. And right now we're still not doing it."

Friday marked the Tigers' fourth 1-0 loss of the season, but their first since April, when spring's chilly beginning cooled Detroit's bats. But neither Michigan's midsummer heat nor the All-Star break has heated them up lately. The Tigers suffered their fifth shutout in the past month, and their Major League-leading 13th shutout of the season. Sunday's four-homer barrage off another ex-Tiger, Justin Verlander, was hoped to be a breakout, but Price had other plans in his first start against the Tigers since leaving Detroit at the 2015 non-waiver Trade Deadline -- a deal to Toronto that included Boyd. Price (11-6) not only retired the Tigers in order his first trip through Detroit's lineup, he recorded seven of nine outs in three pitches or less, following the mantra he cited often during his year-long Tigers tenure.

"The thing that makes him so good," said James McCann, Price's catcher for most of 2015 before becoming his opponent, "is his ball does different things. He's got his two-seamer, his four-seamer, his cutter, and those are all in the same velocity range. So you see it coming out of his hand, and you don't know if it's going to this way, or [another] way, or if it's gonna stay straight. That's why he gets the foul balls he gets. That's why he gets the weak contact."

That's also why, as quickly as he got into trouble in the fourth, he got out of it. Six pitches in, he had the bases loaded and nobody out on three singles. Three batters and some confusing baserunning later, he was out of it, including a strikeout of McCann. Price stranded runners at the corners in the fifth with a strikeout of Candelario before leaving with one out in the sixth.

Video: BOS@DET: Price works out of 0-out, bases-loaded jam

"The guy's been doing it a for a long, long time," Gardenhire said. "He's a good pitcher, and he knows how to move the ball around the plate. He made good pitches. But we also fouled some pitches off that we could have hit. So it goes both ways."

Boyd (4-9) was nearly as good, but in opposite fashion, allowing three of Boston's first four batters to reach base safely -- including Steve Pearce's RBI double -- before retiring 14 of his next 15 batters. As he headed back to the dugout following his first inning, McCann talked with him.

"We had a little bit of a slow tempo, and a couple pitches where we had some miscommunication," McCann said. "We talked about it between innings, that we need to get a better tempo going. Next thing you know, it's the fifth inning."

Video: BOS@DET: McCann throws out Lin at second

Boyd, pitching with four scouts in attendance, struck out six batters over five-plus innings, his stingiest outing since May 28. Still, with no offense to back him, he fell to 0-5 in his last six starts.

"Unfortunately, that run in the first was the deciding run," Boyd said. "That's the way it shakes out. The guy threw really well on the other side today. Hats off to him."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Chaos on the basepaths: On the scoresheet, Price's first out with the bases loaded in the fourth registered as a John Hicks fly out. But the Tigers missed a chance when Andrew Benintendi's throw home went toward the Tigers' on-deck circle instead. Niko Goodrum broke for home, then hesitated and backtracked. Jeimer Candelario thought he was going and was halfway to third when he didn't, but Price missed a chance to pick him off at second.

Video: BOS@DET: Holt leaves game with leg injury in the 4th

"He just kind of froze on it, and then he didn't pick up on the ball," Gardenhire said. "He froze on it, stopped around third, then he looked back to the bag instead of just following the ball. He didn't see it going all over the place."

SOUND SMART
Boyd entered Friday's start with the fourth-lowest hard-hit rate (95-plus-mph exit velocity according to Statcast™) among American League starters this season at 28.8 percent. He allowed four balls in play with an exit velocity over 95 mph on Friday, including Pearce's RBI double at 101.9 mph.

HE SAID IT
"His numbers and his contract speak for themselves." -- McCann, on Price

UP NEXT
With trade speculation building, Mike Fiers (6-6, 3.70 ERA) takes the mound to face old college buddy J.D. Martinez as the series continues Saturday with a 6:10 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park. Lefty Brian Johnson (1-2, 4.20) gets the start for the Red Sox.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

Martin returns to lineup for second-half opener

MLB.com

DETROIT -- The Tigers began the second half of the season on a positive note Friday by getting Leonys Martin back from the disabled list before their series opener against the Red Sox at Comerica Park.

"He means a lot to us out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said, "so it's nice to have him back."

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DETROIT -- The Tigers began the second half of the season on a positive note Friday by getting Leonys Martin back from the disabled list before their series opener against the Red Sox at Comerica Park.

"He means a lot to us out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said, "so it's nice to have him back."

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Martin, who went on the 10-day DL on July 2 with a right hamstring strain, was batting seventh and playing center field in his first game back. In a corresponding move, Detroit optioned Mikie Mahtook to Triple-A Toledo.

Video: TEX@DET: Mahtook plates Jones with a double in 1st

This was the second time Martin was sidelined with a left hamstring strain. He previously went on the 10-day DL in mid-May. That time, he rejoined the Tigers without going on a rehab assignment. This time around, Martin made three appearances with the Mudhens, batting .300 (3-for-10) with two doubles.

Martin suggested Friday that going to Toledo is what he should have done the first time.

"This time we did the right thing, and I feel pretty good," he said.

Martin said he spent his time on the DL trying to make his left hamstring stronger. He said he feels like that was accomplished, though he admitted it may take a few games to get completely comfortable physically and mentally with the rigors of playing every day again.

Martin's trip to the DL also had implications for the market. The 30-year-old has been the subject of rumors as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. That is especially true now that Michael Fulmer has been placed on the 10-day DL, making it less likely that Fulmer will be dealt.

"The only thing I can control is showing up and being ready to play," Martin said.

Martin is second in the Majors this season with nine assists from center field. At the plate, Martin is hitting .257 from the left side, with nine home runs and 29 RBIs. He's tied for the third on the team with seven stolen bases.

Video: DET@TOR: Martin uncorks 98.4-mph throw to nab Travis

While players generally try to distance themselves from rumors, Martin acknowledged it isn't always practical to be unplugged.

"Especially if you have social media, it's going to be in your mind a little bit," Martin said. "We all read a little bit of something every night, but we have to deal with it. We have no choice."

Martin was signed as a free agent during the offseason. He has been traded twice in his eight-year career, most recently from the Mariners to the Cubs in 2017.

"I like Detroit," Martin said. "I'd like to be here. But it's not up to me. We'll see what happens."

Other notes
• Gardenhire said Jordan Zimmermann was scheduled to play catch Friday and throw a bullpen Saturday after getting a nerve-blocking injection in his back. Zimmermann is tentatively scheduled to start Tuesday against the Royals.

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers, Mikie Mahtook, Leonys Martin

J.D., on Tigers: 'This is the team that raised me'

Red Sox slugger returns 'home' for first time since his last game as a Tiger
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The tunnel from the players' lot at Comerica Park leads players and officials underneath Witherell Street and spills them out in front of the clubhouses. Turn left from there to go to the Tigers' clubhouse, right for the visitors.

It's a simple choice, but an awkward change for many former Tigers when they return to Detroit for the first time. Friday was J.D. Martinez's turn, a year and four days after his last game here. The extra time and another team change, having signed with the Red Sox as a free agent earlier this year, didn't make it easier for him.

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DETROIT -- The tunnel from the players' lot at Comerica Park leads players and officials underneath Witherell Street and spills them out in front of the clubhouses. Turn left from there to go to the Tigers' clubhouse, right for the visitors.

It's a simple choice, but an awkward change for many former Tigers when they return to Detroit for the first time. Friday was J.D. Martinez's turn, a year and four days after his last game here. The extra time and another team change, having signed with the Red Sox as a free agent earlier this year, didn't make it easier for him.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's home for me," Martinez said Friday afternoon. "This is my home club. This is the team that raised me."

The Tigers weren't Martinez's first big league team. He played 252 games over three seasons with the Astros before Houston released him in Spring Training of 2014. He had ties to the Tigers through childhood friend Alex Avila and coach Dave Clark, but also admitted a big reason he signed a Minor League deal with Detroit that spring was because the Tigers were willing to offer him an opt-out clause if he wasn't in the big leagues by a certain date.

"A lot of teams didn't want to do it," Martinez said. "Detroit wanted to do it, and that was it. The last thing I wanted to do was get buried in Triple-A behind prospects. I wanted to be able to kind of control my own future, which was one of the main reasons I chose Detroit."

The rest is history. With a revamped swing, Martinez went from castoff to All-Star in Detroit, posting a .912 OPS in his first Tigers season in 2014, then hitting 38 homers with 102 RBIs in '15. He batted .300 with a .912 OPS during his four-year Detroit tenure, falling one homer shy of the century mark. He became a fan favorite in the process, a symbol of a city with a comeback story of its own.

Video: J.D. Martinez's 2014 season highlights

His Tigers tenure has been history for a year now, having been traded to Arizona in July 2017 for three prospects in a deal that began the rebuilding process to break up Detroit's superstar-laden roster. Martinez likely would've been traded regardless of team direction with free agency looming and the Tigers struggling, but once he left, the youth movement was clear.

"It was inevitable," Martinez said. "I think everybody knew it. It wasn't just me. You can only be good like that for so long."

He still keeps in touch with a few players, such as Miguel Cabrera and Jose Iglesias, but admittedly doesn't know many players on the rebuilding team. If anything, he saw more former Tigers teammates earlier this week at the All-Star Game. That group included current Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, whose trade helped Houston win a long-awaited World Series title last October.

"I was talking about it actually with Verlander, when we were at the All-Star Game," Martinez said. "It's just one of those things where [we said], 'Dude, I don't know how we didn't win [in Detroit]."

Martinez's lone postseason experience in Detroit was in 2014, when they were swept out of the American League Division Series by the Orioles. That doesn't diminish how Martinez looks back on his Tigers tenure.

"This is always home for me," he said. "That's the way I look at it. This is where I grew up. This is my home club almost. It just reminds me of all the growing pains I went through."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

J.D. Martinez

Fulmer heads to DL, trade now not likely

MLB.com

DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer's Sunday showdown with Chris Sale is off. So, likely, is any chance of Fulmer being traded this month. The Tigers placed their talented young right-hander on the 10-day disabled list Friday with a left oblique strain.

In a corresponding move, Detroit recalled right-hander Victor Alcantara from Triple-A Toledo.

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DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer's Sunday showdown with Chris Sale is off. So, likely, is any chance of Fulmer being traded this month. The Tigers placed their talented young right-hander on the 10-day disabled list Friday with a left oblique strain.

In a corresponding move, Detroit recalled right-hander Victor Alcantara from Triple-A Toledo.

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Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said Fulmer was 19 pitches into a light bullpen Friday before Detroit's 1-0 loss to the Red Sox at Comerica Park when he sustained the injury. Gardenhire would not commit to a timeline for Fulmer's return, but said Fulmer will be out for "a while."

"He worked out the whole [All-Star] break," Gardenhire said. "He's been playing catch, the whole package. He got out there today, and it wasn't that he wasn't loose or anything like that. He was just doing his normal bullpen and all the sudden got an oblique. That happens in the game, and it's really unfortunate."

Versatile lefty reliever Blaine Hardy will come out of the bullpen to start Sunday against the Red Sox. Hardy (3-2) has made eight starts this season and posted a 3.71 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 10 walks.

Fulmer allowed seven runs on 10 hits during 4 2/3 innings in last start, Saturday at Houston. He gave no indication of any injury after that start while talking with reporters.

The loss continued a month-long slide for Fulmer, 0-3 with a 5.46 ERA over four starts since June 20. He has allowed 36 hits over 31 1/3 innings in that stretch while walking 10 batters and striking out 27. Evaluators from other teams were struggling to determine what to make of that stretch, and of Fulmer's season as a whole, following surgery last year to reposition the ulnar nerve in his right elbow.

Combine that with the Tigers' high demands in return for an All-Star pitcher with four years of team control left beyond this season, and the potential for a trade has waned in recent days. Now, even if Fulmer's DL stint turns out to be minimal, questions about his health for the stretch run will likely linger, tempering what teams will want to give up for the 25-year-old. All those factors favor Detroit holding onto Fulmer for now and waiting until the offseason or next year to revisit the trade market.

Fulmer is 3-9 with 4.50 ERA in 19 starts this season, but until now had made every turn in the Tigers' rotation. While his fastball and sinker have the same mid-90s velocity as last season, batters have hit his slider for a .486 slugging percentage according to Statcast™, and he has struggled to throw his changeup until recent starts.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers, Victor Alcantara, Michael Fulmer

Hall fans 10 for Toledo

MLB.com @wboor

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Friday.

Pirates prospects Bryan Reynolds and Will Craig put on an impressive power display as the duo led Double-A Altoona to a 10-8 win over Reading.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Friday.

Pirates prospects Bryan Reynolds and Will Craig put on an impressive power display as the duo led Double-A Altoona to a 10-8 win over Reading.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Reynolds, the Pirates' No. 5 prospect, and Craig (No. 15) each homered twice, including back-to-back blasts in the seventh.

Craig, who has put together three straight two-hit games after going 2-for-4 with four RBIs, got the scoring started with a three-run homer in the third. Reynolds' first homer of the day came an inning later, when he hit a two-run blast out to right.

In the seventh, the duo put the finishing touches on their big nights as they went back-to-back -- Reynolds then Craig -- to lead off the frame.

Reynolds, Craig go back-to-back

The multihomer games were career firsts for the 2016 Draft picks, who now have three (Reynolds) and 16 (Craig) homers on the year.

Other top prospect performances from Friday's action:

No. 2 overall prospect Eloy Jimenez (White Sox No. 1) turned in the fifth two-homer game of his career and his second of the season in a monster performance with Triple-A Charlotte. The 21-year-old, who finished 3-for-5, did all of his damage right out of the gate, collecting hits in each of his first three at-bats. Jimenez hit a solo homer in the first, came through with an RBI double in the third and then went deep again in the fifth.

Jimenez goes deep

• No. 11 overall prospect Royce Lewis (Twins' No. 1) set a career high with five RBIs for Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Lewis, who is hitting .357 through seven games since being promoted to the Miracle, hit his 10th homer of the season - a three-run blast - as part of his 2-for-5 night.

• No. 25 overall prospect Kyle Wright (Braves' No. 2) picked up the win after spinning his third straight quality start for Double-A Mississippi. Wright, who yielded just one run on two hits, threw 53 of his 81 pitches for strikes. The 2017 first-round Draft pick issued one walk and struck out five as he lowered his ERA to 3.91 and cruised through seven innings.

• No. 56 overall prospect Julio Pablo Martinez (Rangers' No. 3) homered in his third straight game with Class A Short Season Spokane. Martinez, 22, hit a two-run homer in the second inning, giving him six homers through 27 games with the Indians. He finished 2-for-4.

Brewers No. 6 prospect Corey Ray did a little bit of everything for Double-A Biloxi. The 23-year-old showed off his 60-grade speed on multiple occasions as he stole two bases and hit an inside the park homer. Ray, who also doubled and scored a run, finished 3-for-4 and has hits in nine of his last 11 games.

Ray's inside-the-park homer

Orioles No. 14 prospect Cameron Bishop spun his third scoreless start of the season for Class A Delmarva. The lefty, who threw 43 of his 64 pitches for strikes, matched his season high with eight strikeouts without walking a batter. Bishop yielded just three hits and has now given up two earned runs or less in seven straight starts, lowering his ERA to 2.74 through 17 starts (101 2/3 innings this season).

Tigers No. 23 prospect Matt Hall, who made 23 appearances out of the bullpen to begin the season, recorded double-digit strikeouts for the second time in five starts this year. Hall threw a season-high 104 pitches (67 strikes) over six innings of one-run ball. The left-hander stuck out 10, issued one walk and worked his way around seven hits for Triple-A Toledo.

Reds No. 4 prospect Tony Santillan has been dominant since being promoted to Double-A Pensacola. The right-hander, who threw six scoreless innings, is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA through three starts with the Blue Wahoos after posting a 2.70 ERA through 15 starts with Class A Advanced Daytona. Santillan didn't issue a walk in his outing, struck out six and gave up five hits while throwing 55 of his 80 pitches for strikes. In addition to keeping runs off the board, Santillan has also posted an impressive 18-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio since his promotion.

• Luken Baker, whom the Cardinals selected with the 75th overall pick in the 2018 Draft, drove in a trio of runs as part of a 2-for-4 performance in the Rookie-level GCL. After going hitless in his professional debut, Baker has hits in seven straight games and is slashing an impressive .500/.536/.708.

• Hunter Stovall, the Rockies 21st-round selection from the 2018 Draft, has been consistently hitting the ball out of the yard for Rookie-level Grand Junction. Stovall went just 1-for-4 at the plate, but has gone deep in three straight games and has hit five homers through the first 10 games of his professional career.

Stovall goes yard

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Sellers at Deadline, Tigers eyeing prospects

Liriano, Fiers, Castellanos among Detroit's trade candidates
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The Tigers stood within a game of first place in the American League Central on May 15 -- 41 games into the season. They stood within a game of .500 on June 17 -- 73 games into the season.

But Detroit has won five of 25 games since the latter. The most recent victory was a six-run shellacking of former ace Justin Verlander on Sunday.

DETROIT -- The Tigers stood within a game of first place in the American League Central on May 15 -- 41 games into the season. They stood within a game of .500 on June 17 -- 73 games into the season.

But Detroit has won five of 25 games since the latter. The most recent victory was a six-run shellacking of former ace Justin Verlander on Sunday.

Welcome to the travails of a young, rebuilding team. With 64 games left on the schedule, there's more of this to come. Injuries have contributed to the recent struggles, and trades over the next couple weeks could further sap the roster of what little experience it has left.

Still, what has stood out about the Tigers this season goes beyond the record. It's a young team in transition, and it shows, but it's a team that plays hard under manager Ron Gardenhire. It's a team that has shown a knack for late-inning comebacks, long before the Rally Goose became a thing. It's also a team that plays an aggressive, hard-running style of offense that hasn't been seen around Comerica Park for quite some time.

Video: TEX@DET: Fiers strikes out 6 over 6 strong innings

There's still a ways to go for the Tigers before they contend again. This season is more about the process, and the moments within it. So far, this team has provided more moments than expected.

Here's a look at where the Tigers stand at the season's halfway point.

Current status: Seller
The Tigers might be better than expected this season, but they're still in their rebuilding phase, and they're still trying to accumulate the prospects they need for the next few years, especially on the offensive side. If anything, that need has only heightened with the Draft -- during which Detroit used the top overall pick on Auburn starting pitcher Casey Mize -- adding to what was already an area of depth.

Video: OAK@DET: Mize talking about going No. 1, college days

What they are seeking
The Tigers have pitching, evidenced by five starting pitchers among their top seven prospects. They need impact hitters around whom they can build their next lineup in a few years. Detroit could also use more athleticism, notably in the outfield, along the same lines of the talent of Daz Cameron from last summer's Verlander trade.

What they have to offer
Short-term veterans like Francisco Liriano and Mike Fiers are obvious trade candidates, and Liriano is all but certain to land somewhere as a lefty starter or reliever. But the most intriguing candidate -- and the most likely to net Detroit a decent return -- would be Michael Fulmer, struggling of late but just 25 years old with four years of team control. Nicholas Castellanos is a year and a half away from free agency, but he is coming into his prime as a hitter at age 26, and he could help a team looking for more than a rental bat.

Video: TEX@DET: Castellanos smacks a solo homer to left

Possible scenario
If the Tigers traded Fulmer, they'd most likely do so with a team that has many hitting prospects. Detroit entertained interest from the Yankees last offseason, and it could rekindle talks again if it could center a prospect package around young hitter Clint Frazier or Estevan Florial. The Braves would also be an intriguing team to swap with, if the Tigers could somehow pry third baseman Austin Riley or outfielder Cristian Pache from their system.

Either team, however, would likely have to be convinced that they would get four-plus productive seasons from Fulmer, whose right ulnar nerve reposition surgery last offseason raised questions around scouting circles about long-term health.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

Cameron becoming gem of Verlander deal

Athletic outfielder could serve as model for Tigers entering '18 Deadline
MLB.com @beckjason

ERIE, Pa. -- Daz Cameron was 22 months old when the White Sox traded his father to the Reds after the 1998 season. Mike Cameron was a talented young center fielder, just two full seasons into his big league career, but the White Sox liked a young slugger in Cincinnati's system named Paul Konerko.

Daz was coming off his third birthday when his dad was traded again to Seattle. The elder Cameron was a cog in a Reds team that came within a tiebreaker of a playoff berth, but he wasn't hometown hero Ken Griffey Jr.

ERIE, Pa. -- Daz Cameron was 22 months old when the White Sox traded his father to the Reds after the 1998 season. Mike Cameron was a talented young center fielder, just two full seasons into his big league career, but the White Sox liked a young slugger in Cincinnati's system named Paul Konerko.

Daz was coming off his third birthday when his dad was traded again to Seattle. The elder Cameron was a cog in a Reds team that came within a tiebreaker of a playoff berth, but he wasn't hometown hero Ken Griffey Jr.

So when the Astros traded their former first-round pick, Daz Cameron, to the Tigers last August to add Justin Verlander, the young outfielder got a bit of advice from his dad.

"He told me, 'It's going to be kind of like you just got drafted, just meeting the guys and getting to know everybody,'" Cameron said. "But he said, 'Once you step in between the lines, it's just the game, and you go about your business.'"

Eleven months later, business is going well. And as the Tigers near another July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline looking to continue restocking their farm system, the 21-year-old outfielder is the kind of athletic offensive prospect the Tigers would love more of.

Cameron ranks 10th -- fourth among position players -- on MLB Pipeline's list of top Tigers prospects. He will likely move up the list when it's updated later this summer.

"He's going to be a special player to watch, exciting for Detroit Tigers fans," Double-A Erie SeaWovles manager Andrew Graham said.

Cameron has shown flashes of power, an abundance of speed and an improved defense in his first full season -- split between Class A Advanced Lakeland and Erie -- in the Tigers' system, and plenty of all those skill in a month with the SeaWolves. Now, he's showing the ability to adjust.

"For me, it's just focusing in on what I can do. That's been the key," Cameron said. "I have to be able to hit my pitch when it's there and let my athleticism take over. I'm not a guy that's going to pull the ball a lot. I'm going to spray it all over the field. My goal is to go out there and have fun and not worry about scouting reports."

Eastern League scouting reports took time to catch up with Cameron, who hit line drives all over UPMC Park in Erie for two weeks. It's not just that he went 18-for-44 (.409) over his first 11 Double-A games, but that seven of those hits went for extra bases, including two homers and two triples. He scored 10 runs, drove in 10, walked six times and stole four bases without being caught. Half the balls he put in play went for hits.

Video: DET@ATL: Cameron rips RBI ground-rule double

Then, of course, came the bounce-back, a 3-for-30 skid with 11 strikeouts and a .158 BABIP. He hit two more triples, but he tried to do something similar each time up.

"Instead of being locked in, he was trying to do too much," Graham said. "Next thing you know, the other team is saying, 'OK, don't throw anything over the dish right here. Let's go outside and see if he chases.' And he bit on a couple.

"He had a situation where we had runners in scoring position and a base open. They threw him three curveballs. He swung at three balls. And you talk to him and say, 'Hey, would you throw a strike right there with a base open and you're the hottest hitter in the league right now?' He's like, 'No.' And I said, 'Well, there you go.' But the maturity he has, he learned from that. And the next time that happened, he just sat there and got into a hitter's count, and then grinded out the at-bat."

This is where Cameron is now -- not tearing up the league, not slumping, but learning. He posted three two-hit games last weekend against Altoona, but in different fashions. He singled twice last Saturday, but with runners at the corners in the ninth inning with a two-run deficit, he struck out on three pitches, chasing an 0-2 offering.

The next day, Cameron took a first-pitch ball in the first inning with a runner on first, then sent a fastball to the top of the hockey arena that towers over left field. An inning later, he lined an RBI single into the other gap.

"Great approaches," Graham said. "He's still, at times, swinging at the ball in the dirt, which he didn't do earlier. … I can't say he's struggling; he's still doing an unbelievable job. But compared to what we saw the first 15 games? When he started saying, 'Man, I went 0-fer,' I said, 'You're not going to hit .450 and slug 1.500 your whole life.' But the way that he worked to get out of that little slump that he had, it shows how mature and how much of a professional he is for a 21-year-old."

Cameron credits that to lessons he has learned through the Astros' and Tigers' systems.

"I think in some parts of analytics, it was good for me to take in and learn about some little things," Cameron said. "I think [in Houston's system], I learned about the zone better and how to swing at better pitches and wait for my pitch and don't miss it. Over here, it's getting back to the mentality of things in terms of just keeping it simple. I think that, meshed together, has helped me progress and keep getting better."

That doesn't mean the Tigers will push Cameron to Detroit soon. They'll likely exercise similar patience with Cameron as they have with fellow outfield prospect Christin Stewart, letting Cameron learn his way through tears and slumps along the way. But with so few all-around outfield prospects in the system, Cameron has become a building block.

"For me, I just want to go out there and have fun and play, and the rest will take care of itself," he said. "I mean, yeah, you think about [the big leagues] sometimes, like, 'Oh, man, I'm getting close.' But the main thing is to go out there and play the game and help the team win."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

Detroit Tigers, Daz Cameron

Jack White's bat goes to Hall of Fame

There may be no musician who loves baseball more than the former White Stripes frontman Jack White. Not only can his sad face be seen at ballgames around the country every summer, but the Tigers fan has visited the Hall of Fame, met Al Kaline and even co-owns a baseball company with former Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler. And now his baseball bat is in the Hall of Fame. Yes, really. 

Gerber homers twice for Toledo

MLB.com @wboor

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

Jesus Luzardo extended his scoreless streak to 26 innings as he spun another gem in Double-A Midland's 3-1 win over Corpus Christi.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

Jesus Luzardo extended his scoreless streak to 26 innings as he spun another gem in Double-A Midland's 3-1 win over Corpus Christi.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

The Athletics' top prospect (No. 20 overall) hasn't surrendered a run since June 11 and hasn't allowed an earned run since June 6. The lefty has been lights out all season, posting a 2.36 through 14 starts with Midland after beginning the year with Class A Advanced Stockton, and Thursday's outing was no different.

Luzardo threw 42 of his 68 pitches for strikes and issued just one walk and one hit as he cruised through five innings. Luzardo also recorded seven strikeouts, bringing his total to 106 through 83 1/3 innings this season.

Luzardo's seventh strikeout

The 20-year-old got into a rhythm right away as he retired the first nine batters he faced. The Hooks put their leadoff man on base in both the fourth and fifth innings, but no damage was done and Luzardo retired six in a row to finish his outing.

Other top prospect performances from Thursday's action:

• No. 10 overall prospect Michael Kopech (White Sox No. 2) put together another strong start for Triple-A Charlotte. The hard-throwing right-hander yielded seven hits, but limited the damage to just two runs (one earned) over six innings. Kopech, who has struggled with consistency this season, has thrown the ball well lately, giving up one earned run or less in four of his past five starts. Also worth noting that Kopech's command was strong as he threw 70 of his 102 pitches for strikes while striking out nine and walking one.

• No. 100 overall prospect Dakota Hudson (Cardinals' No. 3) fell two outs shy of his first complete game this season, but still picked up his 13th win for Triple-A Memphis. Hudson, who was lifted after 6 1/3 innings, struck out eight and gave up one run on five hits as he lowered his ERA to 2.36 through 18 starts.

Braves No. 12 prospect Bryse Wilson has been nearly untouchable lately for Double-A Mississippi. After throwing seven scoreless frames, Wilson has turned in a scoreless performance in three of his past four starts. The 20-year-old right-hander matched his season high with nine strikeouts -- a total he's reached in three of his past four starts -- as he threw 64 of his 99 pitches for strikes. Wilson also walked one and gave up three hits.

Wilson throws seven scoreless

• Cardinals No. 27 prospect Elehuris Montero hit a pair of homers -- his first career multihomer game -- as part of a 3-for-5 performance for Class A Peoria. The 19-year-old hit two run homers in both the third and seventh innings.

Watch: Montero goes yard

Cubs No. 18 prospect Keegan Thompson continues to post zeros for Double-A Tennessee. The right-hander threw five scoreless innings and hasn't given up a run in three of his past four starts. Thompson threw 42 of his 72 pitches for strikes, struck out five, walked one and gave up two hits.

Dodgers No. 11 prospect Gavin Lux extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a leadoff triple for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. The 20-year-old later added another hit to finish 2-for-4 and boost his average to .324. Lux, a first-round pick from the 2016 Draft, last went hitless on June 26. Since then, he's raised his average 15 points and collected multiple hits in nine of the 19 games.

Reds No. 8 prospect Tyler Stephenson set a career high with two homers and tied a career high with five RBIs in a huge game for Class A Advanced Daytona. Stephenson, who is hitting .282 through 76 games this season, hit a two-run shot in the sixth and then capped his night with a three-run blast in the ninth.

Watch: Stephenson launches homer

• Reds No. 9 prospect Vladimir Gutierrez gave up one run over seven innings for Double-A Pensalcola and has now surrendered one earned run or less in seven of his past eight starts. Not only did Gutierrez keep the runs off the board, but he also piled up the strikeouts, reaching double digits (10) for the second time in his career.

Tigers No. 11 prospect Mike Gerber helped lift Triple-A Toledo to a win as he clubbed a pair of homers for the second time this season. Gerber, who has 12 homers through 59 games this season, hit solo homers in the fifth and eighth innings before finishing 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

Watch: Gerber rips 2nd homer

Twins No. 16 prospect Kohl Stewart seems to be finding his rhythm with Triple-A Rochester. Stewart gave up one run over six innings, while striking out eight and giving up a trio of hits. After giving up 11 runs in 10 innings over his first two starts, the right-hander has allowed one earned run in each of his past two outings (12 innings).

• Blue Jays first-round Draft pick Jordan Groshans came through with the second three-hit game of his career, finishing 3-for-5 with a homer in the Rookie-level GCL. The 18-year-old has gotten off to a fast start in his brief career and is slashing .372/.440/.590 with three homers through 21 games.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Jimenez flawless in brief All-Star appearance

Tigers setup man fans lone hitter he faces to end fourth inning
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Joe Jimenez's first career All-Star appearance was short, but sweet. Jimenez faced just one batter during Tuesday night's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Nationals Park, striking out Brandon Crawford of the Giants after being called on with two outs in the fourth.

"I'm supposed to do that in that situation, because that's why they brought me in," Jimenez said. "So like I said, I enjoyed it, and I had fun."

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WASHINGTON -- Joe Jimenez's first career All-Star appearance was short, but sweet. Jimenez faced just one batter during Tuesday night's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Nationals Park, striking out Brandon Crawford of the Giants after being called on with two outs in the fourth.

"I'm supposed to do that in that situation, because that's why they brought me in," Jimenez said. "So like I said, I enjoyed it, and I had fun."

View Full Game Coverage

It didn't come easy though, as Crawford worked Jimenez for a full count and eight pitches before going down. After Jimenez got San Francisco's shortstop to foul off a slider and a fastball with two strikes, he went back to the slider -- his go-to strikeout pitch -- to get Crawford looking and preserve the AL's 2-1 lead.

Tweet from @tigers: Taking care of business. #AllStarGame pic.twitter.com/94Q6AIXGky

The American League went on to win, 8-6, in 10 innings after scoring three runs in the top of the 10th. The 23-year-old Jimenez has a bright future, no matter where his playing career takes him.

"Just being around the guys, being around these great players, they're basically the best players in the game right now," Jimenez said of his first All-Star Game appearance. "So just being here and being in the clubhouse and on the field with them is just great."

Jimenez was the lone Tigers player in this year's Midsummer Classic, selected after a strong first half as the club's setup man. He was 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA entering the break, and struck out 48 batters over 43 innings. His 46 appearances were two shy of the American League lead.

"I feel proud," Jimenez said. "I feel proud to represent Detroit, and I hope I can continue next year and the years to come."

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com

Detroit Tigers, Joe Jimenez