Homeboy makes it to The Show. Below is from Britton, a very small town of 672 near Dundee. The following comes from a very good Freep article written in 2008:
When he graduated from high school in 2004 — there were 40 students in his class — Below had no plans beyond pitching for a Blissfield-based American Legion team. Then came his break: Below pitched his best game of the summer against a team coached by Keith Schreiber. Schreiber also happened to be the coach at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor.
Afterward, Schreiber asked who had been recruiting Below. No one, he was told. That changed quickly. After posting an 18-4 record for Schreiber over two seasons, the Tigers selected Below in the 19th round of the 2006 amateur draft. He signed for $15,000 — and is saving it all, he said.
Below, 22, now has a realistic chance of making it to the major leagues. He went 13-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 26 starts for the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps last year, led the Midwest League with 160 strikeouts and was named the Tigers' minor league pitcher of the year.
Below was on the 2007 Whitecaps team that included Brennan Boesch, Scott Sizemore, Charlie Furbush, and a few others that have made it up to the bigs at one time or another. Wish him luck. And all you internet commandos (sports is worse than politics, you should see what they do to Leyland) give him a break if he gets roughed up. Rookie starts can be brutal. Or, they can be spectacular. And Leyland says this was Verlander's decision to take an extra day, and I'd much rather have him start against the Twins anyway.
This was the first season I had the Rebel, was still trying to figure it all out. Unfortunately I wasn't shooting in RAW yet either. But, I got a few shots here and there...
Update: Very good job. 5IP, 5H, 3R, only 1ER coming on a homer from Hideki Matsui, 1.80 ERA. An error by Gullien opened the door on the other runs, but Below kept his cool and pitched out of a jam. The Tigers took the lead after he left - but then proceeded to blow the game 7-5.
Does he have the stuff to be a starter? Not sure. He does not have a blazing fastball, and that's a problem. Middle relief maybe?
Wouldn't be surprised to see the Tigers make a trade for a seasoned starter - if they can find one. They come at a premium, and it would be foolish to trade the future for an "iffy" veteran today. Stay tuned.