Tigers Prospect Profile #29: Charlie Furbush

For much of the 2010 season, you couldn't talk about Tigers pitching prospects without addressing Charlie Furbush. The left-hander was quickly gaining notoriety with some outstanding pitching as he rocketed up the minor league ladder.

Charlie Furbush
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-5
Weight: 215
Born: 4/11/1986
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Furbush has taken a rather unusual route to his current status in the Tigers organization. Starting at a small college in Maine, Furbush blew up when he tore through the Cape Cod League. He transferred to LSU to continue his college career and after one year in the SEC, the Tigers made him their fourth round pick in 2007.

Signing part way through the summer, Furbush's time on the field was limited in 2007, but he did post a cumulative 2.34 ERA across two levels (GCL and Low-A). In 61 2/3 total innings the big left-hander allowed only 51 hits and 14 walks while striking out 69.

The 2008 season was a lost year for Furbush, as he went down early with a torn UCL in his left elbow, requiring Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. He missed the entire 2008 season as a result.

Returning to the mound in 2009, the Tigers assigned him to High-A Lakeland out of the gate. While on strict pitch counts as a continued part of his recovery from surgery, Furbush amassed only 111 1/3 innings in 24 starts. His 6-7 record speaks a different story than his solid 3.96 ERA and nearly three to one strikeout to walk ratio.

Surprisingly, the Tigers sent Furbush back to the Florida State League to begin the 2010 season, but that didn't last long. After 13 starts in High-A, Furbush forced the Tigers hand and earned a promotion. Over that span, Furbush absolutely dominated the competition, striking out 109 batters in just 77 innings.

His promotion to Double-A Erie didn't really trip him up as he notched a 3.24 ERA in five starts at his new level. He again posted gaudy strikeout numbers with 37 in just 33 1/3 innings on the mound.

The Tigers promoted him again, this time to Triple-A Toledo, where he finally hit a rough patch. Though he mixed in some solid to good outings, he was largely learning how to handle the more experienced hitters of the International League. He finished his stint in Triple-A with a 6.29 ERA over nine starts, giving up nearly eleven hits per nine, and seeing his strikeout rate fall to below seven per nine innings.

Scouting Report
The scouting reports and 2010 numbers don't always match up for Furbush. He works from a basic fastball, curveball, change-up package, though none of them really impressed scouts. His fastball has average velocity, working 88-90 consistently, and touching 92 during his starts. He struggles to repeat his mechanics and as a result his command suffers. Most scouts don't see enough athleticism in his body to project any significant improvement in the repeatability of his mechanics, and subsequently they think his command will continue to struggle.

His curveball will show flashes of being an average or slightly better pitch, though he doesn't stay on top of it enough, and it often times comes in a little loopy. He lacks confidence in his change-up and he will need to both improve the pitch and utilize it more to increase his effectiveness against right-handers.

Furbush competes well on the mound, and he battles while in the game. He has solid makeup, though sometimes scouts feel he displays too much emotion when things aren't going his way.

If Furbush can improve only one or two of the things that scouts ding him for, he will have a chance to stick as a starter; one with back end of the rotation potential. Without a step forward, most notably in the quality of his breaking ball or his command, he profiles more as a swing man or lefty reliever out of the bullpen.














































Health Record
Furbush piled 158 innings on his arm in 2010 with no reports of abnormal or excessive soreness. His Tommy John surgery appears to be behind him. Some scouts remain concerned about his health going forward because of how un-athletic he is and the difficulty he has maintaining a consistent set of mechanics.

The Future
In a perfect world, Furbush would be a lock for the Toledo rotation, and it is difficult to draw up a scenario where he isn't starting 25+ games for the Hens in 2011. He will need to throw more quality strikes and tighten his curveball to succeed against International League hitters that are much closer to what he will face in the big leagues than those hitters he faced in Erie and Lakeland last year.

The Tigers added Furbush to the 40-man roster this off-season and that leaves him just an injury or double-header away from a spot start in Detroit. Admittedly, the Tigers aren't quite sure what they have in Furbush at this juncture, but they are going to give him an opportunity to earn a spot in their future plans.

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