Position: Left-handed Pitcher
The Tigers popped Furbush in the fourth round of the 2007 draft after just one season at Louisiana State where he posted just a 3-9 record and 4.95 ERA in 87 1/3 innings of work. As you might guess, there was more to the story than his modest 2007 college numbers.
Furbush stood out as a Division II pitcher at St. Joseph's College in Maine, ERAs of 2.89 and 1.75 in his two years on campus. His dominating performance at the D-II level, along with a filthy stint in the Cape Cod League (3-2, 1.83) earned him plenty of attention as he made his way south to LSU.
After signing in 2007, Furbush made four appearances in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, posting a 2.81 ERA and striking out 23 against just three walks in 16 innings. The Tigers quickly promoted him to class-A West Michigan for the stretch drive, and Furbush did his part to help the ‘Caps. In eight outings spanning 45 2/3 innings of work, Charlie notched a 2.17 ERA and a strikeout per inning to along with his 4-1 record.
After such a dominating debut, much was expected of Furbush heading into the 2008 season, but he was sidelined with an elbow injury early in the year, that eventually required surgery and forced him to miss the entire season.
Back on the hill for the 2009 season, Furbush spent the entire year working in the Lakeland rotation, ironing out the kinks after a year away from game action. Furbush finished the year with a 3.98 ERA and a 6-7 record while logging 111 1/3 innings in his first season back.
Though Furbush's fastball has been up to 94 in the past, those occurrences are rare and often ill-advised as he struggles to throw strikes when gunning for more velocity. He routinely works at 88-92 mph and in the past he's demonstrated an ability to throw strikes regularly. His command is better when working to his glove side, but he has been working hard to improve his command in on lefties and away from righties.
Charlie's breaking ball has shown plenty of promise in the past, but it was very hit or miss in 2008 as he continued his comeback. The slurvy pitch can be a swing-and-miss offering when he stays on top of it to generate more downward movement.
The third pitch in Furbush's arsenal is a change-up that has good separation from his fastball and solid arm speed. It has some fade to the arm side, but he lacks the ability to command it routinely. Right-handed hitters still give him fits, and that is likely to be the case until he can rely on his change-up more consistently.
Furbush has good presence on the mound with a calm demeanor and a good awareness of the situations surrounding him. He understands how to mix his pitches and move his pitches through the zone. He just has to improve his execution. Furbush is a good athlete and he gets off the mound well to field his position.
There is some deception in Charlie's delivery, as he has a bit of a short arm action on the back side, which helps his ball get on hitters a little quicker than they expect.
If everything comes together, Furbush's ceiling is that of a number three starter, but there are multiple fall back options, including as a lefty reliever if his change-up never becomes reliable enough to help him get through six or seven innings regularly.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG A+
Furbush should be even healthier in 2010, as he continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery in 2007. It is common for pitchers to experience another step forward in the second year back from the injury, and Furbush should have the reigns taken off a bit this year to allow him to really step out and show what he has going forward.
After a healthy and successful season in Lakeland, Furbush is a near lock to spend the entire 2010 season in the Erie rotation. The jump to Double-A will be a big one, and he will have to command all of his pitches better to maintain his established level of success.
With the number of good pitching prospects already present in the upper levels of the system, and more on the way, 2010 could be a pivotal year for Furbush. Without a standout performance that vaults him to the front of prospect discussions, he could risk being lost in the shuffle and having his path to the big leagues be limited in the Detroit organization.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.