Furbush Getting Noticed For Tigers

DETROIT—Lefthander Charlie Furbush was on the Tigers' radar before this season began. But just barely.

That's not an issue any longer, as Furbush has jumped to Triple-A Toledo after beginning the year in high Class A Lakeland.

Furbush, a fourth-round pick in 2007 out of Louisiana State, missed all of 2008 because of a left elbow sprain. He rebounded last season to go 6-7, 3.96 in 111 innings with Lakeland, but that gave little indication that the 6-foot-5, 215-pound lefty was about to have a breakout year.

In 13 starts with Lakeland this season, Furbush went 4-5, 3.39 and struck out 109 with 14 walks in 77 innings. The Tigers promoted Furbush to Double-A Erie at the end of June, and in five starts for the SeaWolves he went 1-0, 3.24. More important, his strikeout rate remained high as he fanned 37 (against 10 walks) in 33 innings.

That earned the southpaw a promotion to Toledo, and he struck out seven in his first start for the Mud Hens. Overall, he has a 3.69 ERA in 22 starts covering 130 2/3 innings, and his 163 strikeouts rank second in the minor leagues.

"He has a big frame for a lefthander and a little funkier delivery," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. "In his first game for us, he sat at 91-92 (mph) with his fastball and also had a good curve.

"And that's a good combo for him. He can throw his fastball inside to righthanded hitters with a lot of angle, and he also can throw his fastball outside with a lot of ride."

Parrish said Furbush gets his strikeouts by mixing his pitches to good effect.

"His curve is a slow curve," Parrish said. "There's a big gap between his fastball speed and the speed of his curve, and that makes it hard for hitters to adjust."
And that's the way to turn yourself into a prospect.


• Doctors have not found anything wrong with the elbow of lefthander Casey Crosby, one of the Tigers' top prospects. But Crosby has yet to pitch without pain this season, so doctors have advised that he not pitch again this year.

• Righthander Brayan Villareal earned a promotion from Lakeland to Erie. Villareal, who was 7-4, 3.47 with 90 strikeouts in 16 starts for the Flying Tigers, allowed just four hits and two runs in six innings while striking out five in his first start for the SeaWolves.