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Tigers’ pitching prospect looking strong Farmer leads IL in strikeouts with 48

The Detroit Tigers might have a young pitcher getting himself in position for a call-up in Toledo Mud Hens starter Buck Farmer.

Farmer gave Toledo another strong outing Sunday against the Buffalo Bisons. The 24-year-old allowed two runs in 6∑ innings in dueling Buffalo’s David Norris to a relative draw. It was a battle of top pitching prospects. Norris is rated No. 1 in the Toronto system, and Farmer is rated No. 3 overall in the Tigers’ chain.

Toledo went on to win the game, 5-2, in 12 innings before a crowd of 7,744 at Coca Cola Field.

Detroit’s farm system was rated third worst out of 30 major-league teams this year by Baseball America magazine. Nevertheless, the Tigers are likely to need some help from the pitchers in the pipeline after an offseason that saw them lose two outstanding starters. Max Scherzer, the 2013 Cy Young Award winner, left for a seven-year, $210 million free-agent deal in Washington. Rick Porcello was traded to Boston.

One young arm, 25-year-old Kyle Lobstein, already is producing for the Tigers. He’s 3-3. With ace Justin Verlander still out due to an injured tricep, Detroit might need more help in the near future.

Farmer, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, boosted his stock last year by posting a 12-6 record with a 3.07 earned-run average over three levels.

This season he leads the International League in strikeouts with 48 in 44 innings. He has a 4-1 record with a 3.25 ERA.

Farmer was throwing his fastball about 95 mph against the Bisons and keeping it down in the strike zone in cruising through the first five innings. He’s got a big lower body, which helps him keep his speed up as his pitch count rises. His goal entering the season was to keep improving his off-speed pitches.

“He threw the ball very well, mixed his pitches well,” said Toledo manager Larry Parrish. “I thought early in the ballgame he could have been tipping his pitches a little bit. I don’t know if they had it, but I saw something. About the third inning we made a little adjustment with him. Other than that, he’s got a good fastball and a good change up. And he competes well.”

“I’ve made adjustments since the start of the season,” Farmer said. “Not huge adjustments, just things that could cause the fast ball to be down or up, in or out. I believe I’m headed in the right direction. Today was probably the best I’ve commanded of my fastball all year.”

Farmer made a good pitch to Bisons No. 5 hitter Brad Glenn in the sixth. One run was in, a man was on second and the count was 2-0. Farmer got Glenn to ground a ball back to the pitcher’s mound for an easy third out.

“It was a 2-0 slider, and he got out in front of it and I got him to come back to me,” Farmer said.

This is only Farmer’s second full year of pro ball. Milwaukee drafted him in the 15th round in 2012 but he opted to stay in college for his senior year at Georgia Tech. He was a fifth-round pick of the Tigers in 2013.

“I figured I might as well get another year of college in,” Farmer said. “I only have one semester left now to get my degree.”

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com