Charlie Furbush’s breakthrough in the Tigers farm system is about to take him one step shy of the big leagues. The Tigers are promoting their sudden strikeout king from Double-A Erie to Triple-A Toledo. He’ll start Thursday night at Pawtucket.
It’s a quick step up for the 24-year-old left-hander after just five starts at Double-A. But in a year when the Tigers have been aggressive in promoting their top pitching prospects and giving him a challenge, this is the next step.
Furbush, the Tigers’ fourth-round Draft pick in 2007, began the season repeating Class A Lakeland, where he spent all last year after his comeback from Tommy John surgery. He went 4-5 with a 3.39 ERA with the Flying Tigers, but more impressive, he struck out 109 batters in 77 innings. An early-summer promotion to Erie yielded some early struggles, but he struck out 29 batters over 19 1/3 innings in his last three starts, pushing him to 37 strikeouts over 33 Eastern League innings.
Not only does Furbush lead all of Minor League baseball by a wide margin with his 146 strikeouts, he tops all of professional baseball, including the big leagues. Now he’ll try to deceive some more experienced hitters in the International League.
To say Furbush was not a highly-touted prospect going into the season would be fair. Now, in a year where Casey Crosby has been shut down with elbow soreness, Jacob Turner has just started to adjust to the Florida State League and others have had mixed results, Furbush has made a strong case for Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year.