TigsTown Pitchers of the Month: April 2014

Anyone that has followed the minor league clubs through the first month of the season knows there have been a number of impressive performances on the mound. Which pitchers excelled the most to earn pitcher of the month honors?

Toledo Mud Hens: LHP Robbie Ray

28 1/3 IP | 3-2 | 1.59 ERA | .255 BAA | 5 BB | 21 K | 1 HR

After a pair of successful starts in Detroit, it should come as no surprise to Tigers fans that Ray was having plenty of success down in Toledo against Triple-A competition. In his five starts in the month, he never allowed more than three runs, and didn't allow a single earned run in three of the starts, making him a unanimous selection for the Mud Hens' pitcher of the month.

Erie Seawolves: RHP Corey Knebel

10 IP | 2-0 | 0.90 ERA | .189 BAA | 5 BB | 13 K | 1 HR

While he only amassed ten innings of work in the first month of the season, it was hard to not come away impressed with Knebel's work. He allowed just one earned run in the entire month and generated plenty of swing-and-miss, including a pair of outings in which he struck out three batters. The only concern remains the Tigers' biggest concern thus far, and that's been his lack of control and command at times, leaving him susceptible to walks and getting behind in the count. It's a challenge that he can overcome with pure stuff against Double-A hitters, but will need more refinement before he can face big leaguers, hence the need to challenge him in Triple-A.

Lakeland Flying Tigers: RHP Jake Thompson

30 IP | 2-1 | 1.20 ERA | .204 BAA | 10 BB | 28 K | 0 HR

Thompson had a very good season in West Michigan in 2013, but he had yet to flash the sort of stuff that would make fans believe he was worthy of the Tigers' top draft selection two years ago. In the first month in Lakeland, he did that and then some, with four of his five starts in the month allowing one run or less. The starts were consistent too, as he never allowed more than six hits and struck out at least five in each start. It was the sort of performance that could easily support a shot up the rankings if he's able to keep it up as we move toward summer.

West Michigan Whitecaps: RHP Austin Kubitza

22 1/3 IP | 3-0 | 2.82 ERA | .217 BAA | 7 BB | 27 K | 1 HR

It was a tight battle for the honors at West Michigan, with two of last year's draft picks battling it out for the top spot, even though neither were among the first few pitchers selected. Ultimately, Kubitza edged out Farmer thanks in large part to his first two starts where he struck out eight in each outing and only allowed one run combined between the two of them. With Farmer as a teammate, in addition to Jonathon Crawford and Kevin Ziomek, this award will likely have plenty of competition as the 2014 season goes on.

Honorable Mention: RHP Buck Farmer

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