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Minor League Notes, May 19th, 2011

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Jacob Turner of the Detroit Tigers (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Jacob Turner of the Detroit Tigers (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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Minor League Notes, May 19, 2011

**Detroit Tigers pitching prospect Jacob Turner is off to a solid start for Double-A Erie, posting a 2.58 ERA with a 36/11 K/BB in his first 45 innings, with 37 hits allowed. His numbers are very similar to what he posted in the Florida State League last year, and scouting reports are similar, too: low-to-mid-90s sinker, solid-and-improving curveball and changeup, sharp command, mature mound presence. His strikeout rate isn't spectacular, but he picks up plenty of ground balls. He's averaging over six innings per outing this year, which helps answer some lingering concerns that popped up last year about his stamina. Overall, all systems look go here, and the main question now is how quickly the Tigers will move him up.

**Blister issues are hampering Chicago Cubs prospect Trey McNutt at Double-A Tennessee. He's made six starts but has pitched just 22.2 innings, including just two innings in his May 13th start and three more on May 18th. He's pitched decently, with a 2.38 ERA and a 16/5 K/BB with 25 hits allowed, showing sharp control of his 92-96 MPH sinker and hard curve; reports indicate there is nothing wrong with his stuff. He just needs to get that blister problem under control. Blisters aren't as big of a problem as a sore shoulder or throbbing elbow, of course, but they can get out of control if they aren't handled carefully.

**Los Angeles Angels prospect Garrett Richards had an outstanding start for Double-A Arkansas on May 15th, throwing eight shutout innings against Tulsa, allowing just two hits and one walk, fanning nine. On the season, he is 3-1, 4.09 with a 35/17 K/BB in 44 innings, 34 hits. Richards is adapting well to Double-A after dominating the A-ball levels in the Angels system last year. His low-to-mid-90s fastball, combined with a hard slider and big-breaking curve, is overpowering when his command is working. He was an ineffective and frequently awful pitcher at the University of Oklahoma, but was drafted in the supplemental first round in '09 on the theory that his stuff would work better against wooden bats. It certainly has; he's emerged as one of the better right-handed pitching prospect around. In college he was mostly a thrower, but in pro ball he turned into an actual pitcher overnight: he's been excellent since he was in rookie ball.

**A college pitcher from the 2009 draft who did not have an easy transition last year is Cincinnati Reds prospect Brad Boxberger, drafted in the supplemental first round out of USC. He pitched well in the Carolina League as a starter in the first half last year, but converted to the bullpen after being promoted to Double-A and was hammered, posting an 8.49 ERA in 30 innings with 22 walks allowed. Returning to Carolina in 2011, he's had better success: 1.45 ERA in his first 18.2 innings, with a 31/9 K/BB and just 10 hits allowed; the K/IP is particularly excellent. Reports indicate that the mechanical problems which dogged him last year have been resolved, and he's overpowering hitters with his 90-93 MPH fastball and effective slider. It still isn't 100% certain what Boxberger's long-term role will be, but at worst he can be an effective set-up guy and he could still move into a closer or starter role. The key point is that he's righted the ship after last year's second-half debacle.

The crew over at SouthSideSox has an interesting interview with Buddy Bell about the Chicago White Sox farm system, including some observations regarding Jared Mitchell. Check it out.