At the beginning of the season, the general consensus coming from many top prospect gurus around the globe was that either Wily Peralta, Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley could all have a viable shot at becoming the Milwaukee Brewers’ top prospect by the end of 2012. Apparently, they lost track of quite possibly Milwaukee’s most scintillating youngster down on the farm since his rookie season of 2010.
The player I am of course referring to is none other than 23-year-old right-hander Tyler Thornburg, who after conceding just two earned runs over the course of five innings while striking out six in his Triple-A Pacific Coast League debut is 20-7 with a career minor-league ERA of 2.66 and a WHIP of 1.10. Throw in the fact that he’s perpetuated his strikeout prowess with each promotion while improving his command in tremendous fashion, and he may very well be Milwaukee’s top hurler down in the farm.
On Wednesday, the intelligent folks over at Baseball America published their midseason Top 50 MLB Prospects list, with Thornburg as the lone representative of Milwaukee’s entire system at 48th overall. They didn’t elaborate too much on each player, but here’s what they had to say about Thornburg, “Made big league debut in June, then went on minors DL with sore wrist; adding evidence he can start.”
There were questions about whether or not Thornburg has the stuff and the durability to become a big-league starter down the road after experiencing command issues in his first few seasons, but after working on his stuff in the offseason, it looks as though he could be destined for a rotation instead of a bullpen role. Between Double-A and his lone Triple-A start his season, Thornburg has a BB/9 ratio of 2.7 and a K/9 ratio of 8.7, holding batters to a feeble .217 batting average while averaging 5.7 innings pitched through 14 starts.
Thornburg made his big-league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays back on June 19. He looked impressive through the first few innings but the wheels fell off once he got to the sixth inning, where he allowed back-to-back-to-back home runs in that frame. However, there were plenty of positives to take away from his outing.
Look for Milwaukee’s new apparent top pitching prospect to finish out his 2012 campaign with Triple-A Nashville, where he will look to work on the command of his curveball—among other things—and try to prove he has what it takes to stick it in the bigs as a back-of-the-rotation type hurler.