Whitecaps' Farmer harvests 11 strikeouts

Tigers prospect gives up two hits, one walk in seven shutout innings

Buck Farmer ranks second in the Midwest League with 24 strikeouts and ninth with a 1.62 ERA. (Emily Jones/MiLB.com)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | April 18, 2014 11:58 PM ET

After Buck Farmer gave up a hit to the first batter he faced Friday night, he kept his opponents quiet. Very, very quiet.

In his deepest pro start, the Tigers prospect didn't allow another hit until his final inning -- the seventh -- and recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts in Class A West Michigan's 5-2 victory at Cedar Rapids.

"My off-speed stuff was definitely working," Farmer said. "I was using my fastball to get ahead and it also allowed me to come back in counts, and then I could throw what I wanted. I was kind of leaning on my slider to their righties, and they only had a couple lefties."

Kernels leadoff batter Jason Kanzler started the bottom of the first with a line drive single to right field. Farmer (2-1) got Tanner Vavra to dribble into a double play, then struck out Bryan Haar.

"I found a groove in the first inning," said Farmer, whom Detroit drafted out of Georgia Tech in the fifth round last year. "After [the hit], I kind of settled down. I was like, 'OK, we got out of that one.'"

The 23-year-old right-hander stayed focused, even though the Whitecaps committed two errors behind him and he hit a batter and uncorked two wild pitches. One of the errors and the hit batter allowed consecutive batters to reach after Farmer struck out the first two men in the third.

"I had a rocky inning -- a guy got on, and then I hit a guy -- but I've got to give a lot of credit to my fielders, for sure," he said. "They kept me in game, because even in spots like that, I wasn't afraid to let [the Kernels] hit the ball."

His first wild pitch -- in the fifth -- allowed strikeout victim Jeremias Pineda to reach. Had the whiff concluded with a putout, Pinada would have been the third out of the inning. Farmer responded by fanning Jason Kanzler for his third punchout of the frame.

"That felt great," he said. "It's one of those things -- you let somebody on, you want to strike a guy out. Errors are part of baseball, so I didn't let it frustrate me that much. Getting back into it and pounding the zone was the main key."

Farmer, who went 0-3 with a 3.09 ERA over 32 innings in the Short-Season New York-Penn League last year, believes he threw 96 pitches.

"I'm not going to lie to you," he said, "I was kind of getting there by the end of the night, but I still had a little gas in the tank.

"It's the most pitches I've thrown in a long time and it's the most innings I've thrown in one start. It was a lot of pitches, but I guess some innings were kind of efficient."

Ben Verlander was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored for West Michigan, which has won six of its last eight games.

Fourth-ranked Twins prospect Kohl Stewart fell to 0-1 after giving up two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out three over five innings.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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