Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Acquired: 2010 Draft, 26th Round
Ranking History: #46 (2010), #82 (2011)
The Tigers selected Ferrell in the 26th round out of Pitt Community College during the 2010 draft. He debuted with the GCL Tigers, starting eleven games and posting a 3.14 ERA. In 57 1/3 innings, he allowed just 52 hits and 12 walks while fanning 57 rookie-level hitters. He was given a late-season promotion to short-season Connecticut, pitching 6 1/3 innings of relief with a 4.26 ERA.
Ferrell got off to a solid start in 2011 with a 3.49 ERA across six starts for Low-A West Michigan. At that point, Ferrell hit the disabled list and later required Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season and an early part of the 2012 campaign.
When he debuted this year, Ferrell was sent back to West Michigan and he has amassed 76 1/3 innings as he continues his comeback. His innings have come in a mix of starting and relief roles and with a strong second-half stretch he has lowered his ERA to 3.66 and a 1.10 WHIP.
Ferrell has a thin, projectable looking frame but scouts wonder just how much more he's going to change physically. There are open questions about his durability and in-game stamina that will only go away as he demonstrates to the contrary.
Pre-surgery, Ferrell's fastball was consistently 89-91 mph and would touch 92-93 on occasion. Since returning to the mound he has shown comparable velocity and more frequent 91-92 peaks in short bursts out of the bullpen. His fastball flattens out at times and he has to maintain the leverage on his heater by working down in the zone on a consistent basis.
Ferrell's curveball has shown nice shape in the past and will occasionally possess the characteristics of a solid-average breaker with 11-5 movement. The pitch has regressed since early in 2011 and he currently lacks consistent feel for the breaking ball, often leaving it loose and spinning up in the zone. Having seen what his curveball can be, there is hope that the potential is still there for an average pitch.
Throwing more change-ups during his rehab, Ferrell's change has become a reliable second pitch that is regularly an average pitch that he can go to in tight spots.
Ferrell's feel for sequence lags behind his average stuff. He gets into ruts with his pitch usage and relies heavily on his breaking ball against right-handed hitters and change-up versus left-handed hitters. He will need to develop in this area against advanced hitters.
Ferrell throws strikes with all his pitches but lacks the refined ability to locate to the edges of the strike zone. There is some hope that this trait will evolve as he gets further from his surgery, but that remains to be seen as he didn't command well before the injury.
There are enough things to like in Ferrell's profile that it isn't difficult to envision him as a fringe big leaguer. He has solid stuff across the board and could profile as a middle reliever or seventh inning guy.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP WHIP A
In addition to his 2011 Tommy John surgery, Ferrell struggled with shoulder fatigue at the end of a long 2010 campaign. Durability is a legitimate concern with Ferrell at this point and he just has to prove he can handle a heavier professional workload.
There is little to expect that Ferrell is going to move much quicker than a level at a time though if he moves to the bullpen in 2013, he could find his way to Erie if openings arise. He is not a priority prospect and will have to perform to get chances at higher levels and he may be best suited getting work exclusively as a reliever starting next year.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor. Be sure to follow him on twitter @TigsTownMark.