Tigers Midseason Report

Oliver Makes Quite A Leap





Best Player: The Tigers were aggressive in starting lefthander Andy Oliver at Double-A Erie, considering he had no formal minor league experience. But the 22-year-old responded to the challenge, posting a 6-4, 3.61 record with 70 strikeouts and 25 walks in 77 innings for the SeaWolves before earning a promotion to Detroit.

While Oliver pitched well in 16 Arizona Fall League innings last year—he had a 2.81 ERA and 16 strikeouts—there were no guarantees the 22-year-old would pitch well in Double-A. But the 2009 second-round draft pick rebounded from a 5.03 ERA in April. He was 0-2, 3.00 after two starts with the Tigers with 10 strikeouts and three walks in 12 innings.

Biggest Leap Forward: It may have looked like a setback when lefthander Charlie Furbush, 24, returned to high Class A Lakeland this spring. But Furbush, who went 6-7, 3.96 at Lakland last year after missing all of 2008 with a left elbow strain, made the most of it. He went 4-5, 3.39 with 109 strikeouts and 14 walks in 77 innings to earn a promotion to Erie. The 2007 fourth-round pick out of Louisiana State had a 2.57 ERA after two starts in Erie and boosted his minor league-leading strikeout total to 117.

Biggest Disappointment: Shortstop Cale Iorg, 24, has struggled to put his disappointing performance last season behind him. After batting .222/.274/.361 for Erie last year, Iorg had slumped to .199/.241/.299 this season. He had 84 strikeouts against 12 walks and 17 extra-base hits in 271 at-bats.

TIGER TALES

• The Tigers promoted other pitching prospects in addition to Oliver and Furbush. The most notable was righthander Jacob Turner, who moved up to Lakeland after going 2-3, 3.67 with 51 strikeouts in 54 innings for low Class A West Michigan.

• Two other pitching prospects returned to the mound following injuries. Lefthander Casey Crosby was in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, recovering from an elbow bone bruise. Righthander Brayan Villareal bounced back from a muscle strain that sidelined him for much of June, improving to 7-3, 3.10 for Lakeland.