Detroit Tigers: Minor-league pitcher top 10s

Ricardo Pinto of the Erie SeaWolves delivers a pitch against the Akron RubberDucks on May 14, 2021 at UPMC Park in Erie.
Ricardo Pinto of the Erie SeaWolves delivers a pitch against the Akron RubberDucks on May 14, 2021 at UPMC Park in Erie. /
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The 2021 minor-league season is over, so we thought now would be a good time to take a look back at some of the best statistical performances from pitchers in the Detroit Tigers system.

Last week we checked in on the top 10 offensive performances in various categories. We’ve had to get a bit creative with the pitching lists, because if we stuck to just qualified pitchers, we’d be picking from only 12 starters.

To combat that, we’ve lowered the innings limit to just 30. That gives us 76 qualified names, and though it may skew a few stats, we’ll do our best to explain any wacky numbers.

So, let’s begin with some traditional stats. Pitcher wins might be the least informative traditional stat in baseball, but certain people still care about them, so here we go.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Wins Leaders

What you’ll notice here is a lot of minor-league free agents who aren’t really prospects. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be celebrated, because finding arms to eat innings this year was a daunting task for every team in baseball. Ricardo Pinto ended up leading all of minor-league baseball with 14 wins. Mark Leiter Jr., Pedro Payano, and Drew Hutchison were all vital to Toledo’s success this year, and Hutchison added three more victories at the MLB level.

Beau Brieske is the first real prospect on the list, and his performance was strong enough to earn him Detroit Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors from the team. And then Reese Olson sneaks onto the list, having won five games in the Milwaukee system before coming to Detroit in the Daniel Norris trade.

We don’t want to leave the relievers out this discussion, so now let’s take a look at this year’s saves leaders.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Saves Leaders

As a stat, saves aren’t a whole lot more useful than wins, particularly in the minors. Most relievers at the lower levels aren’t allowed to pitch on back-to-back nights, and often the closing opportunities go to any pitcher who didn’t make the rotation. There are the occasional reliever prospects, like Zack Hess, who the Tigers drafted in the 7th round in 2019, but most minor-league closers are veterans like Cale Coshow and Gerson Moreno.

Wins and saves tend to come from a mix of execution, luck, and opportunity. So who had the most opportunity this year? Let’s take a look at the leaders in games and innings pitched.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Games Pitched Leaders

Detroit Tigers Minor League Innings Pitched Leaders

There’s not a whole heck of a lot to do with these lists. Jarey Tobey is a lefty from Wayne State who has a good arm, but pitched to a 5.36 ERA this year. Adam Wolf is another southpaw from the 2018 draft who was a little bit like the low-minors version of Tyler Alexander this year, using a mix of sinkers, sliders/cutters, and changeups to keep hitters off balance.