With their bullpen’s continued struggles to get opponents out, the Detroit Tigers reached into their minor league depth again. The team announced that they have called up righthander Jeff Ferrell prior to Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins. In a corresponding move, the Tigers have designated right-handed reliever Edward Mujica for assignment. Ferrell will wear No. 66 for the Tigers.
Ferrell’s call-up is well deserved. He posted a 1.04 ERA in 8 2⁄3 innings at Double-A Erie to open the season, and has held opponents to a 2.51 ERA in 46 2⁄3 frames at Triple-A Toledo. He has racked up 51 strikeouts to 14 walks in those innings, and allowed just one home run.
Ferrell, 26, made his major league debut with the Tigers in 2015. He did not last long, however, after allowing eight runs on 12 hits in 11 1⁄3 innings. He only pitched another 11 1⁄3 frames at all levels in 2016 due to a shoulder injury, but has come back strong in 2017.
Ferrell’s primary offering is a four-seam fastball that averaged 93.8 miles per hour in his brief call-up in 2015. His best off-speed pitch is a mid-80s changeup that FanGraphs’ Dan Farnsworth described as having “plus-plus potential” prior to Ferrell’s injury-shortened 2016 season.
He has plus fastball and plus-plus changeup potential, with a breaking ball that could approach average as he continues adjusting to his new role. I saw Ferrell in the Arizona Fall League and came away more impressed than after watching most of the name-brand guys. Expect some kind of adjustment period, but Ferrell could work his way into a pivotal part of the bullpen in 2016.
Ferrell also features a slow curveball that sat in the high 70s in 2015.
Going the other way is Mujica, who Tigers fans never expected much from. Mujica did not walk a batter in his 6 1⁄3 innings in a Tigers uniform, but he coughed up seven runs on 11 hits, including four home runs. Now 33 and three years removed from his last full major league season, he will be little more than organizational depth for whichever team picks him up next.