Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Furbush has an interesting background, not one seen associated with many 4th round picks. The Tigers selected him after a rough year at Louisiana State, and hope he will regain the form he showed on the Cape in 2006. During the 2007 season, Charlie started 16 games for LSU, going 3-9 with a 4.95 ERA. Despite being named to the 2007 Roger Clemens Award watch list, Furbush couldn't replicate his previous successes.
On the Cape in 2006, Charlie posted a sparkling 1.83 ERA in 54 innings of work for the Hyannis Mets. He was named to the League's All-Star team and was honored with the John Claffey New England Top Prospect Award after tossing a no-hitter against the Bourne Braves; the franchise's first since Major Leaguer Matt Morris hurled one in 1993. Over the summer, Charlie transferred from Division III St. Joseph's College, where he had dominated the lower competition. During his two years at St. Joseph's, Furbush managed a 17-2 record and 185 strikeouts. He was named the North Atlantic Conference Co-Player of the Year as a freshman, and came close to winning the award again as a sophomore. Furbush's sophomore season at the D-III level was littered with award, including the Division III New England Player of the Year, New England Region 1st Team, 1st Team All New England and All Conference, as well as his team's MVP.
After turning pro in June, Charlie made three starts (four appearances) for the GCL Tigers where he went 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA. The Tigers quickly promoted the polished lefty to West Michigan to help with their drive towards another Midwest League title. While with the ‘Caps he managed a 4-1 mark in 45-2/3 regular season innings, with only eleven walks versus 46 punch outs.
Charlie carries an imposing presence and a power arsenal to the mound; flashing a 94 mph fastball at times. He routinely sits in the 88-92 range, but can dial it up when necessary. He has a live fastball that can dominate hitters when it is on, and he can work it to all four quadrants with ease. He has excelled working his fastball to the right side of the plate (in, on righties), but must improve his command to the arm side. His slurvy breaking ball shows plus potential, and when his fastball is on, gives him two plus pitches from the left side. He works the breaking ball down in the zone and is able to generate consistent late depth on the pitch.
His change-up had seen little use prior to pitching in the SEC, and he must improve the quality and consistency of the pitch to remain effective as a pro. He has showed flashes of bringing the pitch to an above-average level, and his natural arm-side fade should help him keep righties off balance.
The key for Furbush will be to keep his mechanics in order; keeping his arm moving with the rest of his body. He has a tendency to get ahead of his arm, causing him to fly open and lose pitches up on the arm side. When he stays compact, balanced over the rubber, and works down the plane of the mound, he can be a dominating force. His short arm-action on the back side allows him to hide the ball and add a hint of deception to his delivery. He is very intelligent, and is quickly learning how to be a pitcher rather than a thrower. He's an athletic guy who fields his position well, and is always in the right place. Charlie must improve his move to first and work on changing up his looks to hold runners.
Furbush lost his way a little during his lone season at LSU, but there is little doubt that the raw talent exists to become a solid pitching prospect. Furbush profiles as a solid mid-rotation starter with the ability to log innings and starts with ease. If his change-up and mechanics make strides, the rest of his game could allow him to move quickly.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG R
Charlie's size and frame indicate that he should add strength, and his mechanics don't appear to put any undue stress on his arm. He has remained healthy throughout his college and brief pro careers, and the Tigers are hopeful that he will remain strong during his first full season at the professional level.
It is difficult to project Furbush's assignment to start the season, as he has entered spring training with a chance to debut at either West Michigan or Lakeland. After excelling with West Michigan last summer, he could have the inside track on moving up to Lakeland for the start of this season. There is little history for the Tigers moving non-first round draft choices that quickly, but then again, few prospects have had the success Charlie experienced early in his career.
Keep an ear to the ground for reports of Furbush's performance throughout the spring games, as they could be a good indicator of where he will be headed. There are enough projected openings that it won't be shocking if he is pushed to Lakeland for a challenge of his abilities. With success this season, Furbush could be on the Major League radar as soon as 2010.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.