Starting at the top of the organizational ladder, Virgil Vasquez has put together an extremely impressive season, despite mediocre results in a few big league starts. Taking home his third TigsTown award of the season, Vasquez managed a 2-2 record on the back of a 2.67 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in five August starts. His 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio was right on par with the best he has posted this season, and it is no wonder he was recalled to Detroit for the stretch run. Vasquez could compete for a big league slot next spring, and if he continues his impressive pitching, there won't be much to stop him.
Burke Badenhop split his month evenly between High-A Lakeland and AA-Erie, twirling 18-2/3 stellar innings for each club. However, his performance with the Seawolves is just too much to ignore, as he notched a 2-0 record in his first three AA starts. In those starts, Badenhop allowed only eight hits and three walks, giving him a 1.45/0.59 line. With only one walk while at Lakeland in August, Badenhop gave just four free passes in over 37 innings.
The Lakeland Flying Tigers' season has been a lost cause for a while, at least in terms of championship contention, but don't tell that to Josh Rainwater. After an up-and-down career to date, Rainwater put together his finest season as a pro. Despite a 1-2 record in nine appearances (one start), Josh posted a 2.70 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. His August performance caps a season that saw him log a 2.69/1.25 line between West Michigan and Lakeland.
There probably isn't a pitcher in the system that broke out more than left-hander Duane Below. Working as one of West Michigan's frontline starters this season, Below impressed from day one. In August, the local product put up a perfect 4-0 mark with a 0.56 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 32-plus innings pitched. Below struck out over ten batters per nine innings, while only allowing 17 hits and no home runs during the month. The August West Michigan Pitcher of the Month award is Duane's first this season, and second of his career.
The rest of these awards may sound a little redundant, as we get into a group of three pitchers that managed to not allow a run throughout all of August. Oneonta starter Alfredo Figaro made three starts for the O-Tigers in August, allowing only one unearned run on 11 hits in 13-2/3 innings. He also struck out 14 batters en route to a 1-0 record and the third TigsTown award of his career.
The GCL Tigers finished out of the playoff hunt, but Nichols State alumni Rudy Darrow posted a 4-0 record in ten August relief appearances. His stellar pitching boasted a 0.00 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, and only nine hits and three walks allowed in 17-1/3 innings on the hill. Darrow has had a pretty nondescript professional career since signing last summer, but his impressive finish may give him the momentum he needs to become a factor in the Tigers' minor league system.
As if Eduard Reynoso had not been dominant enough all summer, he managed to go out and top even his incredible numbers of June and July. In three August starts, Reynoso did not lose and allowed only nine hits and two walks in 19 innings. He managed 28 strikeouts and a complete game shutout en route to a 0.00/0.58 line for the month. Eduard finished the season with a 0.76 ERA and 110 strikeouts in only 70-2/3 DSL innings.
I have said it many times, but the organizational goal is to develop tons of pitching talent, and months like this are evidence of that organizational dictum. There are pitchers galore throughout the minor league system, and it is becoming harder and harder to determine these monthly awards. Look for TigsTown's annual Pitcher of the Year awards for each minor league squad, to see which Tiger minor leaguers posted the most dominant season on the hill.