Minor league free agent Chad Durbin is turning in an impressive season for Detroit's AAA affiliate, posting a 9-5 record with a sub-3.00 ERA. July was no different, as he posted a 2.36 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and over a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. All that earned him a 2-1 month, and his first TigsTown award. Should Kenny Rogers continue to struggle in the second half, don't be shocked to see Durbin get a chance in the Detroit rotation down the stretch.
Tiger flame-thrower Eulogio de la Cruz is really starting to figure out the Eastern League. After a horrendous start to the season, ‘DLC' has settled down, and actually started to dominate his competition. Filling multiple roles throughout the season – from starter, to set-up, to closer – Eulogio has proven his versatility. July saw him post a phenomenal 1.71 ERA in 26.2 innings, with a 1.18 WHIP and a 3-0 record. It's no coincidence that de la Cruz has begun walking less, and striking out more, as he dominated his league. If he can continue that trend, he could just develop into the dominating reliever the Tigers have envisioned for so long.
Despite striking out around five batter per nine innings for the season, Dallas Trahern has turned in some impressive performances; none more so than what he did last month. On a struggling L-Tigers club, Dallas only posted a 1-2 record, but his pitching was not at fault. With a 1.80 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and only two walks per nine, Trahern's pitching was superb; his offense let him down. Dallas is making his mark on the Florida State League this season, and should see a stout challenge in the Eastern League in 2007.
With strong performances from Josh Rainwater, Luke French, and Sendy Vasquez, it seemed unlikely that someone else could enter the awards fray for July. However unlikely that may have seemed, Burke Badenhop didn't care. With a 4-0 record built on a 1.98 ERA, Badenhop was the leader of a ‘Caps staff that has them challenging for the best record in minor league baseball. The Bowling Green product doesn't have the raw stuff of some of his teammates, but he sure knows how to win and get outs at alarming rates.
After dominating the Dominican Summer League in 2005, Alfredo Figaro came stateside and picked up right where he left off. Despite not picking up a decision in any of his outings, Figaro has yet to allow an earned run in 19.2 innings (13.2 of which were in July). Along with his non-existent ERA, Figaro allowed only one hit and six walks last month, keeping the bases white and his fielders quite bored.
In spite of a lousy offense, the DSL Tigers have been playing some great baseball lately, and winning plenty of games as a result. Behind those winning ways are plenty of pitchers who are dominating their youthful competition. Likely the most dominating in July was Kelvin Cedano, who finished the month at 3-0, with a 1.19 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, and over 13 K/9. In addition to those spectacular numbers, Kelvin only allowed 14 base runners in 22.2 innings last month. Across the Gulf of Mexico, the VSL Tigers/Marlins saw starter Victor Larez post a 0-1 record despite a 0.00 ERA. With five unearned runs behind him, his defense certainly didn't help him out. Larez is a very raw prospect, whose progress last month was very encouraging.
The Tigers minor league system appears to be brimming with pitching talent, and that bodes well for the future of the franchise. With plenty of flame-throwers bouncing around the various levels, there should be plenty of exciting arms to keep an eye on in the coming years.