Tommy John surgery has become so commonplace that fans often expect pitchers to immediately return to their pre-injury form once they are 15 months out from the surgery.
In lefthander Charlie Furbush's case, it appears it's taken three years to come all the way back. The Tigers' 2007 fourth-round pick out of Louisiana State missed the 2008 season to have the elbow ligament replacement surgery. He returned to pitch adequately for Lakeland in 2009 (6-7, 3.96) and finally earned a promotion to Double-A Erie in 2010. He did make it up to Triple-A Toledo late last season, but his 3-4, 6.29 record didn't exactly scream prospect.
His stuff didn't either. He was a funky lefty with a somewhat herky-jerky delivery and a 89-91 mph fastball to go with a loopy curve and adequate straight change.
This spring, he's managed to tweak that scouting report. Furbush has gained a tick or two of velocity, to where he's now sitting 91-92, touching 94 mph. And his fastball has life, which makes it a strikeout pitch at times. The results of his improved velocity have been impressive. Thanks to a bad outing against Pawtucket where he failed to make it out of the second inning, Furbush's ERA is a nice, but nothing spectacular 2.97. Take that one bad outing away and you could argue that Furbush has been one of the best starters in the International League.
Furbush was as good as anyone this weekend, as he held Charlotte to one hit in eight innings. Amazingly, Furbush still picked up the loss, as he gave up one run while Gaby Hernandez and the Knights held Toledo scoreless. That game was the third time in the last four starts that Furbush has struck out eight or more.
WHO'S NEXT: The Royals' decision to promote Eric Hosmer leads to the obvious question: Who is the next Royals' elite prospect to get the call?
It could be third baseman Mike Moustakas or lefthander Mike Montgomery. But the best guess is probably Danny Duffy. Duffy threw another gem this weekend, striking out eight, walking one and allowing five hits and two runs in six innings. Duffy has now struck out at least eight in each of his past three starts, and he hasn't walked more than two batters in any of his six starts.
In the offseason, Duffy was talked about as a darkhorse candidate to break camp in the Royals' rotation. Montgomery, the Royals' top pitching prospect, ended up sticking around the big league clubhouse longer, but Duffy is generally considered a bit further along in his development than Montgomery, although Montgomery's ultimate ceiling is higher.
That's been borne out in the first month of the season. Montgomery's record and ERA (2-1, 2.45) nearly match Duffy's (3-0, 2.25). But while Duffy sports a 41-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio, Montgomery has battled control problems, walking 19 and striking out 24 in 33 innings.
FIRST START: Last year Quad Cities fans got to watch Shelby Miller show why he has one of the best fastballs in the minors. He was the kind of pitching prospect most minor league clubs get once every five to 10 years.
The River Bandits are getting a second chance to see first-rate stuff this year, as righthander Carlos Martinez made his Quad Cities debut on Saturday, striking out six batters, walking one and allowing no hits in four scoreless innings. Martinez, who touched 100 mph this winter, sat consistently in the mid-90s in his first official start in the U.S.
"He was right there at 94, 95, 96," Quad Cities manager Johnny Rodriguez told the Quad Cities Times. "His fastball is as good as advertised, but he can throw a curve and a change-up, too. He has a pretty good idea out there . . . We'll bring him along slowly and let him get acclimated to everything at this level. He can bring it. He's a young Pedro Martinez to me, has the same type of body. He's going to be a good one."
HAPPY HARPER: Bryce Harper was No. 1 on our Prospect Hot Sheet two weeks ago, and he once again made the list this past week. If he keeps this up, he might as well get comfortable, because he may become a permanent fixture.
Harper was 6-for-13 this weekend with three doubles, a walk and two strikeouts. Harper now has a 12-game hitting streak, and he's had two or more hits in eight of those 12 games. During that stretch he also has 12 extra-base hits. His outfield play is also getting noticed. He picked up two exceptional outfield assists on Friday, according to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
The first came in the third inning of the Suns’ 5-2 victory with Delino DeShields Jr. on first with one out. DeShields went on Matt Grace’s pitch to Jiovanni Mier. Mier lined a fly to Harper in right in front of the track, who fired to first to complete an inning-ending double play.
Harper, a converted catcher, caused a roar in the fifth inning on Tyler Burnett’s shot off the right-field fence. Burnett raced to second for a double but saw Harper fall as he was trying to field the ball. The runner started to third, but never made it as Harper gathered himself and delivered a one-hop throw from the warning track to third baseman Blake Kelso for the out.
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog