ROOKIES ON THE 2011 PLAYOFF TEAMS: Detroit Tigers
Here is a look at rookies who contributed to each of the 2011 American League playoff teams, beginning with the Detroit Tigers
Al Alburquerque, RHP: Signed as a minor league free agent this year, he pitched minor league ball in the Cubs and Rockies systems with mediocre results. He blossomed this year, posted a 1.87 ERA with a 67/29 K/BB in 43 major league innings and allowed just 21 hits. Like Dan Schlereth (see below), he could be a closer at some point if the command is there. He owns an impressive 95 MPH fastball/hard slider combination and improved command this year made him a much better pitcher than he showed in the minors.
Duane Below, LHP: Posted a 4.34 ERA with a 14/11 K/BB in 29 innings for the Tigers this year. A 19th round pick in 2006 from Lake Michigan Junior College, he is likely to be on the margins of the majors for some time, used as a relief asset or spot starter.
Andy Dirks, OF: Rookie outfielder hit .251/.296/.406 with five steals in 235 at-bats. An eighth round pick out of Wichita State in 2008, he projects as a fourth/fifth outfielder going forward.
Luis Marte, RHP: A Dominican signed in 2005, Marte gave up six hits and a run in four major league innings this year. Posted a 1.70 ERA with a 68/18 K/BB in 53 innings in Double-A before his promotion, with just 29 hits allowed. He could be a useful relief asset going forward.
Andy Oliver, LHP: Second round pick in 2009 from Oklahoma State, gave up 11 hits and seven run in 10 innings over two major league starts this year. He's still working to integrate his breaking pitches with his 90+ fastball and has got some command troubles. He posted a 4.71 ERA with a 143/80 K/BB in 147 innings in Triple-A. He projects as a number three starter if his command comes around.
Dan Schlereth, LHP: First round pick by Diamondbacks in 2008 from Arizona, came to Detroit as part of three-way Curtis Granderson deal in 2009. 3.49 ERA with a 44/31 K/BB in 49 innings this year. He could become a closer if his command sharpens up.
Jacob Turner, RHP: First round pick in 2009 from high school in Missouri, Turner is one of the top right-handed prospects in the game. He gave up 17 hits and 13 runs in 13 major league innings, but further opportunities will definitely come and most scouts see him as a future rotation anchor. Posted a 3.44 ERA with a 110/35 K/BB in 131 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
Brayan Villarreal, RHP: Signed from Venezuela in 2005, he posted a 6.75 ERA in 16 relief innings with a 14/10 K/BB. He could be in the mix for a spot as the 11th man on the pitching staff next year but isn't likely to take a major role. Posted a 5.05 ERA with a 40/29 K/BB in 66 innings in Triple-A.
Adam Wilk, LHP: Drafted in the 11th round in 2009 from Long Beach State, he pitched 13 major league innings with a 10/3 K/BB and a 5.40 ERA. A control artist who relies on sharp command to survive, he could be a fifth starter or relief option next season. Posted a 3.24 ERA with a 76/14 K/BB in 103 innings in Triple-A.