As a senior at Georgia Tech, Tigers rookie Buck Farmer was all-Atlantic Coast Conference, and beat two top-five teams, Virginia and Florida State. (Danny Karnik / Georgia Tech Sports Information)
Heís not a household name, even if itís a darn good name.
Itís time to get to know Buck Farmer, the Tigers starting pitching for Wednesday nightís game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park.
1. Scouting report
The Tigers didnít have many options to make this spot start. Their go-to spot starter, Robbie Ray, had to be used Tuesday night after Rick Porcello was needed in relief Sunday. So Tigers brass reached out to the folks in the minor leagues and asked who might be most ready. The answer was Farmer, because of his stuff. He throws a fastball that can hit 96 mph, a very advanced slider for a kid just recently out of Single-A ball, and he actually throws two change-ups, one fast and one not as fast. The upper-80s one often is mistaken for a sinker, even by opposing hitters, some of whom this year actually have turned around to ask the catcher what that was. Heís a strike-throwing machine.
2. On the fast track
Just two weeks ago, Farmer was living with a host family in suburban Grand Rapids, as the ace of the staff for the West Michigan Whitecaps. He then made just two starts at Double-A Erie before the Tigers called him up. In choosing Farmer, theyíll have made him the fourth member of Major League Baseballís 2013 draft class to make a major league debut. One of the other ones was a Tigers draft pick, too: Right-handed reliever Corey Knebel, who was traded to the Rangers last month in the deal for Joakim Soria.
3. Where did he come from?
Farmer, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-hander from Conyers, Georgia, was the Tigersí fifth-round pick last year out of Georgia Tech. He made 12 appearances for low-level Connecticut, before starting this year with West Michigan. For the Whitecaps, he was 10-5 with a 2.60 ERA, 1.109 WHIP and 116 strikeouts to just 24 walks in 1032⁄3 innings. In two starts for Erie, he was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA over 12 innings.
4. Is he one-and-done?
It probably wonít be just a single appearance for the Tigers for Farmer. For starters, Anibal Sanchez is on the disabled list and likely out at least a month, and Justin Verlander will miss at least one start. So as long as Farmer doesnít look out of his element, heíll get more work. Best-case scenario, he impresses so much, the Tigers move him to the bullpen when they no longer need starts.
5. Random facts
* His real name is George.
* He was drafted three times, by the Brewers, Braves and finally the Tigers.
* At Rockdale High School in Georgia, he once struck out 22 batters in a game.
* As a senior at Georgia Tech he was all-ACC, and beat two top-five teams, Virginia and Florida State.
* Heís a big-time hunting enthusiast who is a good follow on Twitter (@B_Farm09).