Verlander, Leyland shine for Tigers

Brother of Tigers ace hits first professional homer in win

Ben Verlander has hit safely in six of his first seven professional games. (Kevin Pataky/

By Danny Wild / | June 26, 2013 6:56 PM ET

It sounds pretty familiar: Verlander and Leyland lead the Tigers to a win.

Only this Tigers win was in surburban Connecticut and neither Ben Verlander or Pat Leyland, both 21-year-old Minor Leaguers, have ever won Cy Young Awards or managed a team to the World Series.

Tigers fans can probably do the math on this one -- Verlander is the younger brother of Detroit ace Justin Verlander and Leyland is the son of Tigers manager Jim Leyland. Both helped steer the Class A Short-Season Connecticut Tigers past the visiting Vermont Lake Monsters, 10-3, at Dodd Stadium on Wednesday.

Verlander, an outfielder, went 2-for-4 with his first career home run while Leyland singled and knocked home a pair of runs.

Drafted by the Tigers earlier this month in the 14th round out of Old Dominion, Verlander was playing in just his seventh professional game when he took Vermont starter Jose Torres deep with a man on and one out in the first. The first baseman doubled home Curt Powell in the second as Connecticut (3-6) took a 5-1 lead after two innings.

Leyland singled home Duncan McAlpine and Javier Azcona to cap a four-run first. The first baseman, drafted as an eighth-rounder in 2010, has a few more years of experience than Verlander. He began the season with Class A Advanced Lakeland, batting .168 with two RBIs in 25 games after spending all of 2012 with Class A West Michigan, where he hit .237 with a pair of long balls and 24 RBIs in 68 games. He began his career with the GCL Tigers in 2010 and appeared in 35 games with Connecticut in 2011.

For Verlander, suiting up for the Tigers was a dream come true despite the fact he opted not to sign with the club three years ago when he was drafted in the 46th round of the 2010 Draft out of Goochland High School in Maidens, Va. He debuted on June 19 with Connecticut, going 1-for-3, after hitting .367 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in college this past season.

"Super excited for him," Justin Verlander, the No. 2 overall pick in 2004, told after his brother was drafted. So excited, he bought a Range Rover for his younger brother. "He's worked extremely hard. He earned this all on his own. I'm excited for him. I'm excited to see what he does to start his professional career."

Verlander, who signed on June 12, has actually suited up and taken some swings already in Detroit, although he did so prior to the Draft when Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon helped him refine his swing.

"Just to be drafted is an honor," Verlander told FoxSports. "To be be drafted to the team that your big brother's on is even more cool."

After the game, Connecticut announced the team soon will be featuring another big name -- Kevin Ziomek, Detroit's second-round pick this season, is slated to join the club after going 11-3 at Vanderbilt this year. Connecticut already has the Tigers' No. 1 pick in 2013, right-hander Jonathon Crawford.

Danny Wild is an editor for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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