DETROIT – The top pitching prospects in the Detroit Tigers organization continued to dominate this weekend, including a strong outing from a player who just returned to action.
Mize, Manning continue to impress
Casey Mize and Matt Manning continued their usual mastery over Double-A hitters, combining for 16 strikeouts in 11 innings.
Mize allowed just one run on six hits and one walk over five innings while striking out eight batters and generating a season-high 18 swinging strikes. He threw 63 of his 93 pitches for strikes and induced eight ground balls compared to five fly balls.
Manning's results were even better. He allowed two unearned runs in six innings while allowing five hits and two walks. He struck out eight batters and totaled 11 swinging strikes.
The 21-year-old righty has allowed two or fewer runs in 10 of 12 outings and gone at least six innings in eight of those starts.
Mize has held opponents scoreless in eight of 12 starts this season between Single-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie. He has allowed one run twice and two runs once. His worst start was a four-run, eight-strikeout effort in mid-May.
Tarik Skubal extends hot streak
The top left-handed pitching prospect in the Tigers' system turned in another good start Friday, allowing just two hits and two walks in six scoreless innings. He struck out eight batters and got 14 swinging strikes.
Since May 16, Skubal has had four excellent starts and one dud. He allowed four runs on eight hits in 2.2 innings May 26 against the St. Lucie Mets, but in the other four outings, he's combined to allow just three earned runs, 10 hits and seven walks in 24.1 innings.
Skubal has struck out eight batters in consecutive outings after watching his strikeout totals dip for the better part of a month. He's also gotten a combined 30 swings and misses in his last two starts.
On the season, Skubal owns a 3.08 ERA, a 1.011 WHIP and 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. His walk and home run rates are low, and eight of his 12 starts have been encouraging.
Detroit drafted Skubal in the ninth round of the 2018 draft, so his early success is an added bonus for a farm system already deep in pitching.
Kyle Funkhouser returns from injury
With Mize, Manning and Alex Faedo lighting up Double-A, there hasn't been much talk about the team's No. 10 overall prospect, Kyle Funkhouser.
Funkhouser was off to a rough start in Triple-A Toledo before hitting the injured list, allowing 15 earned runs on 18 walks and 15 hits in 17.2 innings. He was coming off an encouraging 2018 season and figured to be one of the first prospects in line to join the MLB club this year if he earned an opportunity.
The 25-year-old returned form injury Tuesday and made a pit stop in Lakeland, firing five scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
He was even more electric Saturday in Double-A Erie, allowing one run on two hits and a walk across five innings. Funkhouser whiffed eight batters and got 10 swinging strikes in 79 pitches.
If Tigers fans are hoping to see some of the organization's top prospects join the big league roster this year, they should root for Funkhouser, who's much more likely to get a chance than Mize and Manning.
Funkhouser is much older than the other pitching prospects and has spent parts of four seasons in the minors, so if he has extended success, expect him to join the beleaguered Tigers rotation.