Brian Flynn managed to win eight games over three years in college, enough for the Tigers to take a chance on the big lefty a summer ago. On Monday, he made it eight wins in less than four months at Lakeland.
Flynn had the best start of his professional career on Monday, striking out six and allowing three hits while matching his career high with seven innings as the Class A Advanced Flying Tigers shutout Palm Beach, 4-0.
The 2011 seventh-round pick worked around two baserunners in the first inning before retiring nine straight. Palm Beach managed two singles off the lefty in the fourth and sixth after Flynn picked off the Cardinals' first baserunner, leadoff man Mike O'Neill, following a single in the first.
For Flynn, the first pitcher drafted by Detroit in the 2011 Draft, the start was just a little better than his second professional outing, when he whiffed five and walked one while allowing three hits over seven frames for Class A West Michigan on June 26, 2011. On Monday, the Wichita State product struck out six -- two shy of his career high -- and did not walk a batter for the second time in three starts.
Lakeland gave its starter a 2-0 lead on James Robbins' two-run double in the second inning. Flynn wouldn't need any more, as he induced a dozen ground ball outs and allowed only one fly ball in his first win since June 29. He finished his afternoon with a 1-2-3 seventh, catching Rainel Rosario swinging to end the frame.
Flynn went 7-2 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 starts last season in the Midwest League after signing for $125,000. His fastball has reached as high as 96 mph in the past and his size -- he's 6-foot-8 -- makes him an intriguing lefty prospect in a Detroit system that already includes southpaws like Andy Oliver, Casey Crosby, Alex Burgos and Matt Hoffman.
The 22-year-old has adjusted quickly to the Florida State League. With the win on Monday, he improved to 8-4 with a 3.71 ERA surpassing his win total from a year ago and, oddly enough, matching his win total from a combined three seasons with the Shockers. The Oklahoma native attended Owasso High School, the same school that produced Orioles' first-rounder Dylan Bundy a year ago.
Reports of improved mechanics this season have also helped the big lefty. Through 18 starts, he's walked 32 and struck out 84 in 102 innings, averaging about 5 2/3 innings a start. He's held opponents to three earned runs or fewer in six of his last 10 starts and leads Lakeland in ERA, wins, WHIP (1.42) and strikeouts.
Matt Crouse worked the final two innings, allowing one hit to seal the combined four-hitter. Cardinals starter Ryan Sherriff was charged with four runs on seven hits over seven innings in suffering his first loss.