Tomlin Getting His Shot

By: T.J. Zuppe

When the season started for Indians minor-league hurler Josh Tomlin, the sight of the Cleveland and the big leagues seemed just a bit out of reach. It was not a lack of effort, or even performance for Tomlin, who has been putting up consistently good numbers in the Indians minor league system.

Josh Tomlin Makes His Debut Tuesday

However, Tomlin’s name seemed to never come up in conversations about promising young Indians arms. The 2010 season has put an end to that, and we can officially remove “minor league” from his title.

The Indians announced on Sunday that Tomlin will get his shot in the Indians rotation, replacing the injured lefty Aaron Laffey, and will make his debut on Tuesday against the Yankees.

Tomlin will square off with former Indians ace C.C. Sabathia (13-3 – 3.38).

“All this kid has done (is) pitch effectively his entire career,” Indians manager Manny Acta said on Sunday to the assembled media at Progressive Field. “He deserves this shot.”

The 25-year old, Texas native is currently in his fifth year in the Indians minor league organization, after being selected in the 19th round by the Tribe in the 2006 amateur draft, after originally being selected in the 11th round by the San Diego Padres the year prior.

He has tasted much success in the Indians minor league system, and before the 2010 season.  Tomlin had pitched well at every level of the organization, stretching from Mahoning Valley in 2006, to the Akron Aeros in 2009 where he won 14 games.

However, he seemingly was overlooked for other young Indians young pitchers and left off the radar, until finally this season when he hit Class-AAA Columbus. He has spent the entire 2010 campaign pitching at the top of the Clipper rotation, posting a record of 8-4, bringing his career Class-AAA win total to nine.

Tomlin has thrown 107.1 innings for Columbus, posting an incredibly low earned run average of 2.68. He has started 17 of 20 games, striking out 80 hitters while only walking 33. The opposition is only hitting a meek .212 against Tomlin this year.

Tomlin features four pitches in his repertoire, including a fastball, curveball, changeup and slider, which he features as his go-to in strikeout situations. He does not throw particularly hard, topping out in the high 80’s to low 90’s on the radar gun. He relies on command and pitch-placement, more so than blowing hitters away, which means he knows how to pitch at any level.

Tomlin, a converted shortstop, has displayed a will to succeed and great attitude in the Indians’ organization, and despite not having the best skill-set, has overcome with athleticism and great focus.

Before the 2010 season, the best spot for Tomlin was still up in the air. Tomlin had success in the starting rotation, but also showed velocity increase on his fastball when inserted into a setup role. However, because of his great numbers as a starter this year in Columbus, he has put to rest those whispers of middle-relief, at least for the moment.

He will have every opportunity to prove he should stay in the Cleveland rotation and with other young pitchers like righties Carlos Carrasco, Jeanmar Gomez, and lefty David Huff waiting in the wings, to get their shot again at the next level, he will need to make the best of it.

All of that aside, Tomlin’s story is about perseverance and the ability to overcome, but the jury is still out on how long his stay in the big-leagues will be.

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe


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