Down on the Farm: 2010 Top Pitching Prospects
With the Minor League Season about to begin, the Down on the Farm series is set to resume. As a first assignment, I thought I would quickly highlight pitching prospects to keep an eye on this season.
RHP Robbie Weinhardt
2009: Advanced A Lakeland & AA Erie
Stats: 63 innings
1-2, 5 SV, 1.57 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
10.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
The reliever's pitch repertoire consists of a low-90s fastball, a mid-80s slider, and a slurvy breaking ball.
Weinhardt began his professional career in Advanced-A Lakeland last season with a 20-plus-inning scoreless streak. Though still impressive, once promoted to AA Erie his numbers slightly elevated.
However, Weinhardt followed with impressive performances in both the Arizona Fall League and Spring Training.
Weinhardt will begin this season in AAA Toledo.
LHP Daniel Schlereth
2009: AA Mobile/AAA Reno/Arizona
Stats: 46 innings
1.01 ERA, 0.00 ERA, 5.89 ERA
13.2 K/9, 9 K/9, 10.8 K/9
5.4 BB/9, 9 BB/9, 7.4 BB/9
Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks this offseason, Schlereth has perhaps the highest ceiling of our prospect relievers. Just how high that ceiling is though depends upon his command.
The southpaw features a mid-90s fastball and solid secondary pitches. Once he irons out his control issues he should help anchor the Detroit bullpen in the near future.
Schlereth will begin this season in AAA Toledo.
LHP Casey Crosby
2009: Low-A West Michigan
Stats: 104.2 innings
10-4, 2.41 ERA 1.13 WHIP
10.1 K/9, 4.1 BB/9
After missing all of 2008 with Tommy John surgery, Crosby quickly made up for lost time and emerged as perhaps the Tigers' number one pitching prospect.
Crosby’s fastball is clocked regularly in the mid-90s. He also features a slider and change-up.
The recipient of the 2009 Detroit Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award will begin this season in Advanced-A Lakeland.
LHP Andy Oliver
2009: Oklahoma State University
Stats: 88.1 innings
5-6, 5.30 ERA 9.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9
Oliver features a mid-90s fastball with great late movement and a change-up. Perhaps his only weakness is that he does not feature any breaking pitches. Unless he can develop one, he is a better candidate for the bullpen in my opinion.
The Tigers' second round pick of the 2009 draft is slated to begin the season in AA Erie.
RHP Jacob Turner
2009: Westminster Christian HS
Stats: 58.1 innings
7-2, 0.60 ERA 13 BB, 113 SO
The Tigers selected Turner in the first round (9th overall) of the 2009 draft.
Turner's three pitch arsenal features a fastball that sits between 94 and 98 mph. His repertoire also includes a slider and a change-up, all of which he has excellent command of.
This spring in three innings, Turner walked three and struck out four without allowing any hits or runs.
Turner will begin this season in Low-A West Michigan but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him in Advanced-A Lakeland by season's end.
RHP Cody Satterwhite
2009: AA Erie
Stats: 49.1 innings
4-6, 12 SV, 3.47 ERA, 1.48 WHIP
9.5 K/9, 4.9 BB/9
The flame-throwing late inning reliever has a fastball that regularly touches 95-98 mph and solid secondary pitches.
His Achillies’ heel thus far though has been his command as reflected in his walk ratio. Due to his delivery, he also has a tendency to leave pitches up in the zone causing his fastball to become hittable and his breaking balls to flatten out. In essence he is the right handed version of Daniel Schlereth.
It has recently been reported by Nick Underhill that Satterwhite will begin the season on the DL with a torn labrum. The injury “could be career threatening.” Let’s all wish Cody the best of luck and a speedy recovery.
EARNING THEIR STRIPES:
After a solid season last year split between AA Erie and AAA Toledo, Josh Rainwater was very impressive this spring. In 8.1 innings he issued just one walk, struck out seven, and allowed zero unearned runs.
Rainwater will begin the season in AAA Toledo.
With an ERA of just 1.82, Melvin Mercedes quickly emerged as a quality closer for the Tigers rookie league last season. At just 19-years-old, he begins this season in Low-A West Michigan.
Brayan Villarreal is coming off a solid season at Low-A West Michigan where he split the season as a starter and a reliever. Last year, he went 5-5 with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
Even more impressive was his 3 BB/9 and 10.3 K/9 ratios. Villarreal should begin the season in Advanced-A Lakeland as a starter.