At 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, Brayan Villarreal isn't built like a prototypical Major League starter. On Thursday against Clearwater, however, the Lakeland right-hander definitely looked the part as he struck out nine batters while denying the Threshers a hit until the sixth inning.
Villarreal (1-1) picked up the win as the Flying Tigers went on to a 4-1 victory.
After giving up two runs in four innings in his season debut last week, the right-hander reduced his ERA to 2.89.
The 22-year-old Venezuelan has struck out 17 of the 36 batters he's faced while allowing just one walk over 9 1/3 innings.
Last year Villarreal went 5-5 with two saves and a 2.87 ERA over 26 games for the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps. He struck out 118 batters and walked just 33 in 103 1/3 innings.
The Detroit Tigers signed Villarreal in 2005, and since then he's never given up more than five home runs in any season. After 193 1/3 innings of professional baseball, Villarreal has allowed just nine overall.
As part of the rotation with Mark Sorensen, Charles Furbush, and Adam Wilk, the Flying Tigers lead the Florida State League with a 1.92 ERA and have only allowed 14 walks and five home runs as a staff. Lakeland also ranks in the top three in the league in strikeouts (57), shutouts (two), and hits (44) and WHIP (1.08).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.