Tigers Midseason Report
Before the 2010 season began, lefthander Charlie Furbush wasn't considered one of the Tigers' top prospects. But last year he flew through three levels, finishing with 183 strikeouts, the second-highest total in the minor leagues.
For an encore, he showed he could master Triple-A. After a 6.29 ERA in nine starts for Toledo last year, Furbush, 25, posted a 2.91 ERA in eight starts in 2011. He also struck out 55 in 46 innings while allowing opponents to hit .176, which prompted the Tigers to call him up in mid-May. Furbush continued to pitch well in Detroit, posting a 3.08 ERA in his first 13 appearances with the Tigers—including one start—with 22 strikeouts in 26 innings.
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD:
Lefthander Matt Hoffman pitched well for high Class A Lakeland last season, but struggled mightily in Double-A Erie, where he had a 7.43 ERA in 26 appearances and had nearly as many walks (20) as strikeouts (22) in 27 innings. The 22-year-old returned to Erie to start this season, giving up two walks and two runs while getting only one out in his first appearance, but a pitching squeeze resulted in an emergency appearance in Toledo, and he took advantage. In his first 27 relief appearances with the Mud Hens, Hoffman had a 2.78 ERA and fanned 23 in 32 innings. The fine start cemented Hoffman's status as a potential lefty for the Tigers' bullpen.
Righthander Robbie Weinhardt nearly made the big league roster out of spring training, then was called up to Detroit for the home opener. But from that point the season has gone south. In 18 appearances with Toledo he had a 7.40 ERA. He was demoted to Erie in mid-June and gave up eight hits and five runs in three innings. He followed that up with three scoreless innings, raising hopes that he would return to the form that made him one of the Tigers' top relief prospects.
• Low Class A West Michigan catcher Rob Brantly and second baseman Hernan Perez were chosen as starters in the Midwest League all-star game. Righthander Bruce Rondon also made the all-star team.
• Lefthander Casey Crosby experienced shoulder inflammation and made a brief trip to Erie's disabled list. He returned on June 27 after two weeks off and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning against Binghamton.