Minor League Pitchers of the Month: June

Following in similar fashion to the offensive performances in June, there was not much to choose from at each level. With players bouncing around to fill needs, receiving promotions to new levels, and even some fatigue appearing to set in, many pitchers struggled significantly throughout the month. The Tiger system is flush with promising young pitchers, but you sure would have a hard time telling looking at last month's numbers.

It's fitting that the man who gets the Pitcher of the Month award for Toledo, ended up in Detroit shortly thereafter. Sean Douglass has been electric for a large portion of the 2005 season, including a very nice four-start stretch in June, where he posted a 2.55 ERA with nearly nine strikeouts per nine innings. After receiving his promotion to Detroit, Douglass proceeded to continue his impressive run, tossing six innings of 4-hit ball, allowing only one run. As Sean continues to pitch well, the Tigers are going to have a hard time forcing him from the rotation should some of their young studs prove ready for the Major League challenge.

It is not very often we will give the Pitcher of the Month award to the same player in back-to-back months, but I think you will agree it is nearly impossible to deny Joel Zumaya of the honor this time around. After a solid month of May, Zumaya went absolutely "postal" on Eastern League hitters in June, finishing with a 0.78 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 11 K/9, and only two walks per nine innings, over nearly 35 innings. Numbers like that will force people to take notice, and they could signify "the leap" for Zumaya to the next level of pitching prospect. If Joel continues to post numbers even close to these for the remainder of the season, we could see him in Detroit for good as soon as next spring.

With the impressive starting staff having dominated the Lakeland headlines for much of the first season, it was finally time for the bullpen to step up in June. Lakeland closer Chris Homer posted a very impressive month as the teams late inning specialist, finishing with a 2.16 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and four saves in seven appearances. Homer struggled through May but really turned it on last month, helping ensure the L-Tigers continued their winning ways. If Chris can continue to lock down the late innings in High-A ball, it is possible he could see some meaningful innings in the Erie bullpen late this year.

After handing the award to Ian Ostlund last month, the reliever trend continues at West Michigan. This time, the honor goes to the ‘Caps Anthony Tomey, who is proving that the Midwest League is really not much of a challenge for him. Tomey logged a 2.45 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in 10 appearances throughout June, while grabbing 4 saves and only allowing less than five hits per nine innings. With the recent promotion of Eulogio de la Cruz to Erie, and the potential for more Lakeland pitchers to move up, Tomey could find himself in sunny Florida soon.

With a few dominating pitching performances scattered throughout the organization, the shine is still there on the Tigers pitching prospects as a group. July will be a telling month for several of the Tigers top prospects. It is time to see if any advances or setbacks seen thus far are temporary or likely to last the remainder of the season. Watch out for a few of our recent award winners as they start to make cases for promotions, and even a case for a roster spot in Detroit in 2006.

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