The Detroit Tigers Minor League affiliates seasons are now officially in the books. With another season completed, the time has come for me to announce the 2011 MCB Down on the Farm All-Star Team.
In an effort to reward less talked about prospects, only players that did not receive a call-up to Detroit this season were eligible. While you may recognize some of the names, remember these awards aren’t a pronouncement of the Tigers top prospects. The awards were based heavily upon the best overall statistical season per position.
Similar to previous years, the breakdown of the roster will consist of one player per position, a designated hitter, five starting pitchers and five relievers.
2011 MCB Down on the Farm All-Star Team: RHP Michael Torrealba
TEAM: CLASS-A West Michigan Whitecaps
STATS: 81 IP 5-3 2.22 ERA 1.25 WHIP 7.6 H/9 3.7 BB/9 9.9 K/9 0.6 HR/9
The Detroit Tigers signed right-handed pitcher Michael Torrealba in July of 2006. Torrealba stands 5′ 11″ tall, weighs 150 pounds and hails from Maracay, Venezuela.
He made his Tigers debut pitching in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2007 and 2008. 2007 brought mediocre results–5.65 ERA & 20BB/19K–in a small sample size of 28 2/3 innings. Torrealba took a giant step forward in 2008 though as an 18-year-old. Working exclusively as a reliever, he posted a 4-1 record, 2.06 ERA and opposing batters hit just .169 against him. He saw a dramatic increase in strikeouts 11.6 K/9 and a much improved walk ratio of 3.9 BB/9 over 48 innings.
In 2009 Torrealba arrived stateside pitching for Oneonta of the NYPL. Statically he enjoyed another successful season posting a 2-1 record and a 2.78 ERA over 35 2/3 innings. He maintained similar strikeout and walk ratios and held opposing batters to a .197 average. Torrealba split time between Connecticut and Advanced-A Lakeland in 2010 posting a combined 3.67 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 41 2/3 innings. Despite the slight increase in hits and slight decrease in strikeouts, 2010 was yet another solid season. Torrealba posted a lower walk ratio 2.4 BB/9 and maintained an impressive clip of over a strikeout per inning.
In 2011, Torrealba was assigned to Class-A West Michigan where he was a late inning reliever. Last season with the ‘caps Torrealba continued to strikeout over a batter an inning–9.9 K/9–and he posted a shiny 2.22 ERA with 9 saves over a career high 81 innings. He proved that he could routinely be called upon to successfully handle more than an innings worth of work too which only increases his value moving forward.
Scouts might not ooh and awe over his size and frame but Torrealba can bring it when he’s toeing the slab. He features a clean, quick, high-effort 3/4 delivery. His arsenal consists of low-90s fastball that features solid movement. He compliments the fastball with a potential plus curveball. Torrealba is comfortable throwing both offerings in any count. Like most young pitchers, Torrealba must learn to throw more quality strikes though. He will become tested as the levels increase and hitters begin to lay off pitches out of the zone. The primary function of the farm system is to iron out minor issues like this though, so I’m not terribly concerned. He does a solid job of limiting home runs and walks and the strikeout numbers are through the roof so Torrealba remains on my shortlist of pitching prospects on the rise.
At 22-years-old next season, Torrealba will be right on target for the FSL. With that in mind I’d expect him to open the 2012 season in Advanced-A Lakeland, unless the often aggressive Tigers decide to push him in AA-Erie. Moving him through the system one step at a time would definitely help him tighten things up a bit though.
Congratulations to Michael Torrealba for an outstanding 2011 season!
2011 MCB Down on the Farm All-Stars
Next Up: Final Bullpen Award