Competitive Motivator

Brantly thrives off competition

DETROIT—Rob Brantly is an exceptional catching prospect for the Tigers.
But he also sees that Detroit has Alex Avila, a 25-year-old catcher who was an all-star last season. And he knows that the Tigers' top choice in last year's draft was a catcher, James McCann.

Is Brantly bothered by that competition?

"That motivates me," Brantly said. "I don't think about it, because that would interfere with my focus. And my focus is on performing as well as I can. I just want to perform for my team, so I don't focus on anything but helping my team."

Through the first month of the season, Brantly has done plenty to help Double-A Erie. He batted .373/.411/.612 and ranked among the Eastern League leaders in batting average, RBIs (17) and extra-base hits (12).

Brantly, a third-round pick by the Tigers out of UC Riverside in 2010 who will turn 23 in July, said his fine offensive start is a continuation of work he began in the Arizona Fall League last year.

He worked with Erie manager Chris Cron there and hit .388/.400/.490 in 15 games after struggling at the plate following a promotion to high Class A Lakeland.

"I've tried to simplify my approach and not think about too many things," he said. "I have narrowed my focus on pitches I can hit, and recognize pitches I can't hit—and not swing at them. I'm trying to maintain an aggressive approach, and be more disciplined."

And Brantly said he and the other young catchers in the Tigers organization are proud that they give Detroit talented depth behind the plate.

"Guys like Bryan Holaday (with Triple-A Toledo), myself, James McCann, I think are all great up-and-coming catchers," Brantly said. "In spring training, we all worked with each other. We were trying to make each of us the best we can be."


• The Tigers had a player ranked among the league leaders in home runs at every minor league level through the first month of the season. Toledo first baseman Brad Eldred led the minors with 13 homers, while Erie first baseman Jordan Lennerton, Lakeland outfielder Avisail Garcia and low Class A West Michigan Dean Green each ranked in the top five of their respective leagues.

• West Michigan outfielder Steven Moya, 20, was leading the Midwest League with a .377 batting average before going on the disabled list April 27 with a strained hamstring. Moya, who signed out as a nondrafted free agent out of Puerto Rico in 2008, hit .204/.234/.362 for the Whitecaps last season.