Starting with the Tigers top affiliate; Jordan Tata finally got himself back on track, after starting the year in Detroit. Tata has been pressing much of the year, trying to get back to Detroit, and his control had deserted him as a result. In August however, Jordan bounced back with a 3.31 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 35.1 innings, over six starts. With intermittent run support, he was only able to muster a 2-2 record for his efforts, but he certainly has helped the Mudhens get back in the think of the pennant chase. After a solid month on the farm, Tata was recalled to Detroit with the roster expansions in September.
The Erie SeaWolves have had several pitchers post outstanding seasons, but none as consistently as 20-year old Jair Jurrjens. Jurrjens started the season with back-to-back Pitcher of the Month awards while at Lakeland, and continued that trend with his third such award with Erie in June. After a pedestrian July, Jurrjens was back with a vengeance, posting a 1-0 record, 2.62 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and a 3.5:1 K:BB ratio. Jair has thrown himself towards the top of the heap as far as Detroit pitching prospects are concerned, and at such a young age, he should be a force to be reckoned with down the road.
Dallas Trahern tried to defend his July award, by posting some very solid performances in August, but he was outdone by one of Lakeland's newer relievers. After spending much of the season's first half in extended spring training to improve his control, Anthony Tomey dominated the Florida State League over 22.2 innings. In that stretch, he notched a 0.40 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, and nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings, while only walking 1.5 batters per nine. It appears as though he is beginning to gain control of a fastball that can touch 95, and that could be a good sign for 2007.
In spite of a great month from Sendy Vasquez, West Michigan's Burke Badenhop was successful in defending his July crown. After a month that saw him post an ERA south of 2.00, Burke slipped to a measly 2.55 over 35.1 innings in August. As the ‘Caps continue their drive towards another Midwest League Championship, Burke has become an important cog in the rotation, consistently providing outstanding innings, and a chance to win ball games.
It's not often that a soft-tossing lefty, just out of college, makes as much noise as former Manhattan lefty Chris Cody is making. Cody has carved up his New York-Penn League competition, to the tune of an outstanding 2.38 ERA and nearly nine strikeouts per game. If that weren't enough, his August performance was the stuff legends are made of; logging 14 innings over three starts, with a 0.66 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 1.32 BB/9, and an incredible 13.17 K/9. Chris' raw stuff doesn't suggest much more than a bullpen lefty, but performances like last month, and for that matter, this season, will hive him plenty of opportunities to stick in a rotation.
The GCL Tigers have had their fair share of outstanding pitching performances this season, but with the promotion of Eleazar Aponte, and the fact that Alfredo Figaro actually allowed some runs, the door was wide open for someone to snatch the award from underneath them. With that opportunity, 2006 draftee Duane Below jumped at the chance, posting a non-existent ERA (no really; his ERA was 0.00), and allowing only 3 H/9. Below was the Tigers 19th round choice out of Lake Michigan Community College, where he posted a 1.75 ERA and a 7-1 record this past spring. His dominance has continued to the professional ranks, and the Tigers are hoping they have found a diamond in the rough.
A month after dominating the DSL with a 1.19 ERA and over 13 K/9, Kelvin Cedano didn't let up in August. This time around, he finished off with a 1.69 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and over 10 K/9, while barely walking anyone. This performance helped push the DSL Tigers towards the playoffs, and may have earned the 20-year old Cedano a trip to the states for the 2007 season.
The Tigers continue to hang their figurative hats on the strength of the pitching throughout the minor leagues, and performances like those highlighted above, certainly validate that belief. The Tigers have worked hard to build the depth of pitching to an acceptable level, and it appears there are more outstanding hurlers on the way, even as far down as the Dominican League. Check back later this month to see which pitchers were able to take home TigsTown's yearly honors, and if any of August's winners were able to notch the Organizational Pitcher of the Year award.