Minors Rendezvous: Toledo's Starting Pitchers
Acquired: Waivers, Texas, 10/04
Major League Service Time: 3.08 years
One option remaining, not on the 40 man roster
Originally Drafted: Texas, 1st round, 1999
Once the top pitching prospect in Texas's farm system, Colby Lewis is the poster boy for TINSTAAPP. Drafted out of junior college, Lewis made it through the Texas system fairly quickly, making the big leagues in 2002, at the tender age of 22. Once there, his control suddenly left him, walking 109 in 176.2 innings during his time in the Big Leagues. That time was cut short early in 2004, when he first started having shoulder problems. After having surgery on his rotator cuff, the Rangers thought they could slip him through waivers at the conclusion of the 2004 season. They thought wrong, though, as Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers were quick to pick up this young arm with so much potential. While it was thought that Lewis may have been able to contribute last year, numerous setbacks stood in his way, including another surgery on his right shoulder. When all was said and done, 2005 was another wasted year, and being arbitration eligible after the season, the Tigers removed him from the 40 man roster and were able to re-sign him to a minor league deal.
So far, the second year of the Colby Lewis Era has been nothing but a pleasant surprise. Anytime you are dealing with a pitcher following problems in his throwing shoulder, any production is a big plus. Posting a 2.99 ERA in Toledo this year with just 21 walks in his 81.1 innings, Lewis has done well. If he can re-establish that low-mid 90's moving fastball with the breaking ball, Colby Lewis will probably stick around on a big league club, provided that he can work out issues he was having with command before the injuries. The results in Toledo suggest that he has come a long way. There is a chance it could be the Tigers who give him his shot, as he has one option year remaining, meaning that he can be added to the roster in September to help out in the bullpen, and then can be moved between Toledo and Detroit as needed next year. That seems like the probable scenario, given the team's scouts' love of this guys talent. Considering that Mark Woodyard, who is older with less upside, is being stashed on the 40 man roster, there will certainly be room for an arm that is only going to get better as he enters his peak years.