Since the 2010 season ended, the Detroit Tigers have been clearing spots on their 40-man roster. Following the official signing of Joaquin Benoit, the team made several moves to fill those openings on Friday.
• Reliever Fu-Te Ni was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo. The lefty had a promising rookie year in 2009 with a 2.61 ERA in 33 innings. But he regressed badly in 2010, allowing 19 runs, 19 walks and 27 hits in 23 innings. After being demoted in June, Ni posted a 7.50 ERA in 12 games with Toledo.
• Taking Ni’s spot on the roster is minor league reliever Alberto Alburquerque, who was signed to a major league contract. This year with the Rockies’ Double-A team, Alburquerque struck out 32 batters in 34 1/3 innings. (His 19 walks raise an eyebrow, however.) The Tigers apparently feel that’s the kind of arm worth taking a chance on.
• Shortstop Cale Iorg and pitcher Charlie Furbush had their contracts purchased from Triple-A Toledo.
Iorg was promoted to Toledo after spending most of the season with Double-A Erie. He’s been viewed by the organization as the shortstop of the future, especially because of his defense. Yet he’s struggled with hitting in his three full minor league seasons. Iorg has some power, as his 31 homers over the past three years demonstrate. But making contact is a big issue. Iorg hit a combined .215 this year.
Furbush is a promising left-hander with strikeout stuff, which makes you wonder if he could get a shot in the Tigers’ rotation at some point next year. This season, he compiled 183 strikeouts in 159 innings between Lakeland, Erie and Toledo.
• Pitchers Lester Oliveros, Brayan Villarreal, Duane Below and Jose Ortega had their contracts purchased from Double-A Erie.
Oliveros had the most saves in the Tigers’ minor leagues this season, with 23. He also struck out 60 batters in 44 1/3 innings, pitching with Lakeland and Erie.
Villareal finished with a 7-8 record and 3.55 ERA in 24 starts between Lakeland and Erie. He racked up 136 strikeouts (versus 39 walks) in 129 1/3 innings.
Below started 28 games with Erie, compiling a 7-12 record and 4.93 ERA, with 103 strikeouts in 126 innings. (He allowed 137 hits, though.) Ortega had 61 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings over 43 appearances between West Michigan, Lakeland and Erie.
The Tigers’ 40-man roster is currently full. More moves are likely to come, as they have to clear room for the other players they want to acquire this offseason.