Lakeland Flying Tigers Prospect Cole Nelson/photo: JAYRC

Down on the Farm: The Best and Worst Pitchers of April

April is officially in the books and our prospects have finally provided us with a decent size of data to chat about. At the beginning of every month I will highlight the previous months best and worst prospects. The monthly review will break down into two parts, batters first and then pitchers. Keep in mind that one month of data is an extremely small sample of data, so don’t get to excited or to concerned at this point. Regardless, here is your month end report to keep you advised of what’s going on down on the farm.

Low-A West Michigan Whitecaps:

WHO WAS HOT

  • Antonio Cruz was 0-3 with a 3.80 ERA, in 4 starts, over a span of 21 1/3 innings. Cruz had 15 strikeouts and 7 walks, while holding batters to a .195 batting average.
  • Ramon Lebron put up respectable numbers in 10 2/3 innings of work in April. The 22 year-old reliever had 14 strikeouts and was clocked as high as 100 mph. He posted a 2.08 ERA and held opposing batters to a .194 average. However, looking forward Lebron needs to cut down on the walks a bit to be considered a legit prospect.

WHO WAS NOT

  • Bruce Rondon posted an impressive 2.25 ERA in 12 innings of relief. However, his 15 walks is a recipe for disaster going forward. On a bright note, Bruce racked up an impressive 18 strikeouts. He’s young and he is still perfecting his game but in order to be a dependable, effective reliever he must cut down on the walks.

Advanced-A Lakeland Flying Tigers

WHO WAS HOT

  • Kenny Faulk has been outstanding this season for the Flying Tigers. In 10 2/3 innings Faulk posted a 0.84 ERA with 17 strikeouts, 5 saves and just 1 walk in April. The fastball/change-up closer also held batters to a .244 average.
  • Ryan Robowski was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks when Detroit traded Armando Galarraga last winter. In 11 2/3 innings last month the southpaw reliever posted a 0.77 ERA and picked up 2 saves.

WHO WAS NOT

  • Cole Nelson struggled a bit last month posting a 1-2 record with a 5.40 ERA in 5 starts. He walked 13 and recorded 22 strikeouts in 25 innings. A couple of his starts were perfect the first time through the lineup, then teams seemed to figure him out and things went to hell in a hand basket. Pitching with runners aboard continues to be the biggest thorn in the 6’7 southpaws side. Regardless, Nelson remains a very interesting prospect with a ton of potential.
  • Jared Wesson allowed 35 base-runners in 15 1/3 innings over 4 starts in April. The 6’5 southpaw allowed 17 ER and batters hit .394 off of him last month. I am sure that Wesson was thrilled to see the calendar flip to the month of May.

AA Erie SeaWolves

WHO WAS HOT

  • Jacob Turner was 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 4 starts–26 2/3 innings. Turner allowed 22 hits and issued just 4 walks. The soon-to-be 20 year-old had no problem dominating in the first month of his aggressive assignment in AA. Seriously, what more can you say about Jacob Turner? The kid is AWESOME!
  • Lester Oliveros was almost untouchable in 14 innings of relief for Erie. He finished April 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 21 strikeouts. Opposing batters hit just .174 against him and he did not allow a homerun. Lester was recently promoted to AAA-Toledo. Already a member of the Tigers 40 man roster, Oliveros is on the short list of relievers to call upon if need be.
  • Casey Crosby was 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 4 starts last month. 20 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings suggests that he is still the swing and miss prospect that many of us fell in love with. Opposing batters also hit just .233 against him and he allowed 10 walks in April. It is even easier to get excited about his numbers last month when you consider how terrible his first start was.

WHO WAS NOT

  • Mark Sorensen allowed 42 base-runners in 28 innings last month. Opposing batters hit .292 off him, including 3 homeruns. He finished April 1-2 with a 5.79 ERA.
  • Luke Putkonen allowed 39 base-runners in 20 2/3 innings last month. Opposing batters hit .322 against him, including 5 homeruns. He finished April 0-3 with a 8.27 ERA.

AAA-Toledo Mud Hens

WHO WAS HOT

  • Andrew Oliver had a solid April posting a 3-1 record with a 3.64 ERA in 29 2/3 innings. He held opposing batters to a .215 average and struckout 31. Perhaps the only blemish on his numbers last month was his team high 12 walks.
  • Adam Wilk was 1-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 25 1/3 innings last month. Wilk continues to avoid the free pass, allowing just three walks in April. He allowed over a hit an inning but continues to limit the damage and keep his team in the game.

WHO WAS NOT

  • Robbie Weinhardt was demoted to the Mud Hens after posting a 10.80 ERA with the Tigers. In 5 innings with Toledo last month Robbie allowed 8 base-runners and surrendered 8 runs–5 earned–in 5 innings. I think we all can agree that Robbie is a much better pitcher than this. Hopefully the new month brings Weinhardt more positive results.
  • Fu-Te Ni had a rough April posting a 5.59 ERA in 9 2/3 innings. Despite a 3-0 record, Ni allowed 15 hits, 5 walks and 2 homeruns in April. Opposing batters hit .349 off the lefty reliever. On a positive note, he racked up 13 strikeouts.

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Tags: Adam Wilk Andrew Oliver Anonio Cruz Bruce Rondon Casey Crosby Cole Nelson Down On The Farm Fu-Te Ni Jacob Turner Jered Wesson Kenny Faulk Lester Oliveros Luke Putkonen Mark Sorensen Ramon Lebron Robbie Weinhardt Ryan Robowski

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