TigsStats: Starting Pitchers Part 1

Spring training is now upon us, but before we dive into the 2009 season, it's time to take a position-by-position look at how the Tigers' minor leaguers performed in the stat book last year. We now switch sides and take a deeper look at how the full season starting pitchers performed.

Lauren Gagnier - Age: 23

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

A

West Michigan

188.1

6.26

1.57

9.84

7.55

4.25

0.70

16


Gagnier was a workhorse for the organization last season, unfortunately, he wasn't that effective, posting an ERA over six. Gagnier battled control problems, with 16 wild pitches and more than four walks every nine innings, leading to a large number of base runners, which led to runs being generated. Being able to pitch the innings he did is certainly valuable, but not if he can't be effective at it.


Alfredo Figaro - Age: 23

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

A

West Michigan

187.1

2.74

1.20

8.46

7.11

2.31

0.10

13


Figaro emerged as another workhorse, but excelled in a big way doing it. Figaro possessed good control, had a solid strikeout rate, and kept runners off the basepaths. All that put together resulted in excellent numbers – unfortunately those numbers were carried by a dominating performance at West Michigan – once he moved up to Lakeland, his numbers took a dip, which is a bit discouraging, given his age he should be able to compete at the high-A level.


Lucas French - Age: 22

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

AA

Erie

170.0

4.02

1.50

10.32

4.66

3.18

0.74

10


French has emerged as the very definition of the type of pitcher every organization needs for their system, though is unlikely to ever develop into a major league contributor. French is effective in every sense of the word, but not great in any particular area. He allows baserunners and doesn't strike out a lot, but can control a game enough to be effective and keep his team in a game.


Ramon Garcia - Age: 23

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

A

West Michigan

163.2

4.01

1.35

10.12

6.05

2.03

0.83

13


Garcia, dominating a couple seasons ago, has now moved into a swingman role, working both as a starter and reliever throughout 2008. Garcia was susceptible to the long ball, and didn't strike out a ton, but walked far fewer, and while he was hit, his strong control allowed that to be a non-issue.


Danny Christensen - Age: 25

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

AA

Erie

159.2

4.11

1.42

9.53

5.52

3.27

0.91

6


The minor league veteran came in as an innings eater and did just that – he gave up his fair share of hits and home runs, but was effective, which is all that can be asked of a guy like him. A likely reason why the Tigers elected to bring him back for 2009.


Virgil Vasquez - Age: 25

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

AAA

Toledo

159.0

4.81

1.36

10.13

6.51

2.09

1.36

4


Vasquez's star faded quickly with the organization after getting shelled in his big league debut, and it seemed to affect his psyche to the point that his minor league numbers suffered as well. Vasquez's ball flattened out and he started giving up long balls with an alarmingly high frequency. The Tigers lost Vasquez to the Red Sox via a waiver wire claim, and he has since landed with the Pirates.


Jon Kibler - Age: 21

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

A

West Michigan

154.1

1.75

0.87

6.01

7.35

1.87

0.35

6


Kibler made a very good case for himself for consideration for TigsTown's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and these stats show why. Not only was his ERA outstanding, but he rarely gave up hits, had excellent control, along with strong strikeout numbers. Kibler will face the same uphill climb as a number of initially-successful West Michigan pitchers do, but his peripheral numbers are simply top notch.


Chris Lambert - Age: 25

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

AAA

Toledo

149.1

3.50

1.28

8.62

7.47

2.89

0.44

3


Lambert had a very successful Triple-A season, which is what led to his late season call-up to Detroit, where he got a shot in the big league rotation. Lambert limited his hits and walks against and kept his strikeout numbers high, so even though he didn't have an ideal big league debut, hope is certainly not lost for the former first round pick.


Jonah Nickerson - Age: 23

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

A+

Lakeland

146.2

3.99

1.23

8.47

7.00

2.64

0.85

2


The former College World Series MOP was an outstanding college pitcher, but the question was always whether or not his stuff would be effective in the pro game, but thus far, Nickerson has remained effective. Nickerson continued to possess excellent control, all the while being able to use his repertoire to strike out hitters when needed. Nickerson's biggest challenge will likely come in 2009 when he'll likely face Double-A hitters, and where his stuff will truly be put to the test.


Luis Marte - Age: 21

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

AA

Erie

141.2

4.19

1.31

8.39

6.48

3.37

0.95

11


Marte started the season off dominating Class-A hitters in Lakeland, unfortunately, injury concerns popped up and slowed him down, and he wasn't as effective at the Double-A level. Marte's control was off at times, and while he was clearly a difficult pitcher to hit allowing less than a hit per inning, those statistics leveled off as the competition improved. 2009 will be telling a year for Luis.


Eddie Bonine - Age: 26

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

AAA

Toledo

135.0

3.53

1.11

8.40

5.80

1.60

0.86

4


Bonine had an up and down year and offseason for the Tigers – highlighted by his Tigers' debut and first big league win, but lowlighted by him being removed from the 40-man roster over the offseason. Bonine is a control pitcher that relies on his defense to make his outs, and his incredibly low WHIP was likely a bit of a product of that.


Duane Below - Age: 22

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

A+

Lakeland

133.1

4.46

1.61

9.72

8.51

4.73

0.63

6


The K-reliant Below continued to maintain a high strikeout rate, retiring almost a batter per inning on his own. However, his continued struggles in keeping the ball in the strike zone left him walking a high number of batters as well, leading to far too many baserunners, as evidenced by his WHIP above 1.6. If Below can cut down on his walks while remaining a devastating strikeout guy, Below could quickly emerge as a stud.


Rick Porcello - Age: 19

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

A+

Lakeland

125.0

2.66

1.19

8.35

5.18

2.38

0.54

3


Porcello's star status has been talked about ad nauseum, with the only critics pointing out his lower than expected strikeout rate. His strikeouts were down, but the criticism ignores the fact that he was on strict pitch count and pitch type limits, and was forced to use his secondary pitches significantly less than he typically would in other cases. The rest of Porcello's numbers were clearly outstanding, and are reason for even further encouragement about his future.


Manny Miguelez - Age: 22

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

A

West Michigan

123.0

4.39

1.46

9.15

6.29

4.02

0.50

12


Miguelez came back with a solid 2008 season after some initial struggles at times. His control was still a concern, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is still under two which needs to be improved upon, but he limited the hits he allowed, and if he can continue to make progress with regards to his walks, there's more reason for optimism.


Jeremy Johnson - Age: 25

Level

Team

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

WP

AAA

Toledo

82.0

4.96

1.58

11.02

6.50

3.20

0.81

3


Johnson was another swingman type that worked all over for the organization, wherever he was needed. Johnson, was a prospect regarded with optimism but that status has been derailed over the years by injuries, had settled into more of a minor league veteran role in which he could be effective, but wasn't going to be more than an innings eater. Johnson especially was hit hard, and while he maintained a respectable K:BB ratio, it was far from great, and the Tigers and Johnson parted ways at the end of 2008.



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