The Toledo Mud Hens will start the 2012 campaign on Friday, April 6 at Fifth Third Field at 5 p.m. versus the Indianapolis Indians. The team's opening seven-game homestand will kick off the 11th season of baseball in downtown Toledo's Fifth Third Field. The team will have a combination of prospects, veterans, and many familiar faces.
2012 will mark the 26th consecutive season affiliated with the Detroit Tigers.
The team will be led by Manager Phil Nevin in his second season at the helm.
LHP Duane Below will return to Toledo for his second season at the Triple-A level. The 26-year-old from nearby Britton, MI (36 miles from Toledo) was the Detroit Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2007. Last year, Below started 18 games for Toledo, going 9-4 with a 3.13 ERA. He also made his Major League debut, pitching in 14 games (two starts) with Detroit. Below was selected by Detroit in the 19th round of the 2006 draft.
RHP Chris Bootcheck will start his first season with Toledo. The former first round pick of the Angels was 3-2 last season in Durham and posted a 3.57 ERA.
RHP Brooks Brown returns to Toledo after spending the last two seasons with Double-A Erie. The 26-year-old former University of Georgia Bulldog was selected by Arizona in the first round of the 2006 draft.
LHP Casey Crosby spent last season in Erie, winning nine games for the Seawolves. The 23-year-old is the fourth best prospect in the system according to Baseball America.
LHP Matt Hoffman enters his second season with Mud Hens after posting a 2-5 record in 2011 with a 3.18 ERA in 49 games.
LHP Fu-Te Ni returns to Toledo after going 6-3 for the Hens in 2011 with a 3.24 ERA. The 28-year-old from Taiwan will be entering his fourth pro season in the United States after a two-year career in China.
LHP Andy Oliver is rated as Detroit's fifth best prospect coming into the 2012 season, according to Baseball America. The 24-year-old second round pick of Detroit in 2009 pitched with Toledo and Detroit last year after replacing the injured Phil Coke in July.
RHP Jose Ortega comes into the 2012 season as the 10th highest prospect in the Tigers organization according to Baseball America. The 22-year-old from Venezuela will be entering his sixth professional season.
LHP Drew Smyly will make his Triple-A debut in 2012 after spending last season with the Erie SeaWolves. Entering his third professional season, the 22-year-old is a former second round pick.
RHP Brayan Villarreal enters his second season with the Mud Hens after a 3-5 record in 2011. The 23-year-old from Venezuela was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2005 by Detroit.
RHP Thad Weber will return to Toledo after compiling a 5-11 record in 2011 with a 5.65 ERA. Weber was selected by Detroit in the 16th round of the 2008 draft.
LHP Adam Wilk debuted for the Detroit Tigers in May of 2011, but spent much of the year in Toledo. Wilk was selected by Detroit in the 11th round of the 2009 draft.
Bryan Holaday will make his Triple-A debut with the Hens after spending the 2011 campaign with Double-A Erie. The 24-year-old was selected by Detroit in the sixth round of the 2010 draft.
Omir Santos caught 49 games in his first season with the Mud Hens in 2011. Santos (30) also appeared in 11 games as Detroit's backup catcher a year ago.
3B Audy Ciriaco returns to Toledo after playing 14 games with the Hens in 2011. The 24-year-old native of the Dominican Republic hit .277 in 101 games with Double-A Erie last year and is entering his eighth pro season.
SS Argenis Diaz batted .279 and drove in 25 runs in 98 games for the Mud Hens in 2011. However, Diaz is known for his glove and was voted "Best Defensive Infielder" by Baseball America prior to the start of the 2010 season with the Pirates.
1B Ryan Strieby will play in Toledo for a third straight season. The fourth round pick (2006) played in 130 games for the Mud Hens in 2011, leading the team with 19 home runs and 79 RBI.
1B Brad Eldred has spent the last few seasons in the Pacific Coast League with the Fresno Grizzlies. The 31-year-old is currently fifth among active minor leaguers with 227 career home runs. Eldred played for the Indianapolis Indians from 2005-2007.
2B Eric Patterson comes to Toledo after splitting last season between Triple-A Tucson and the San Diego Padres. The 28-year-old is entering his eighth pro season and has 226 games of major league experience.
Quintin Berry enters his first season with the Mud Hens after signing with Detroit as a free agent. Berry led the Southern League with 40 stolen bases in 2011 while playing for Double-A Carolina. The 27-year-old was originally selected in the fifth round of the 2006 draft by Philadelphia.
Jerad Head jumps to Toledo in 2012 after spending the first six seasons as a pro with the Cleveland Indians organization. The 29-year-old was among the league leaders last season with 24 home runs with the Columbus Clippers.
Justin Henry joins Toledo where he has appeared in 50 games over the past two seasons. The 26-year-old was selected in the ninth round of the 2007 draft and has played in 180 games with Double-A Erie over the past two years as well.
Matt Young is a newcomer to the Hens. The 29-year-old played in 98 games for Triple-A Gwinnett last season and 20 games for the Atlanta Braves. The former University of New Mexico standout stole 17 bases for Gwinnett in 2011 and has 175 career thefts.