Thornburg aims to make impact on Brewers
Righty hurls scoreless inning at Futures Game, hopes for callup
PHOENIX -- Tyler Thornburg has a very specific expectation for how the rest of this season will play out: The Brewers are in contention entering September, and Thornburg gets called up when rosters expand that month to get them over the hump and into the playoffs.
"That's what I'm hoping for," he said. "And I'm trying to give them every reason to put me there."
Thornburg will continue to work on that. But on Sunday, he was soaking in the honor recently bestowed upon him -- suiting up for the U.S. Team during the XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field.
Thornburg was chosen as the Brewers' lone representative after simply being unhittable in low Class A and high Class A this season, going 9-1 with a 1.81 ERA while striking out 96 batters and walking 32 in 84 2/3 innings (spanning 15 starts).
"I was hoping one day I'd get a chance to pitch in the Futures Game after watching it on TV after so many years," Thornburg said. "And getting a chance to do that in my first full year is pretty unbelievable."
Thornburg, whose parents made the trek from Florida to watch him, pitched a scoreless fifth inning while allowing one hit in the U.S. Team's 6-4 win over the World Team.
The 22-year-old right-hander has a herky-jerky delivery that's rather similar but not as emphatic as that of Giants ace Tim Lincecum. With it, he throws a mid-90s fastball, a solid changeup and a curveball he believes has become his most reliable secondary pitch.
Upon being a third-round Draft pick last year, scouts worried about Thornburg's offspeed stuff and 5-foot-11 frame, which have led some to believe his future in the big leagues may come out of the bullpen.
But Thornburg isn't shy about telling you he wants to remain a starting pitcher long term.
"I like it more," he said. "Instead of coming in and throwing one or two innings in a game, you're going to be there for hopefully six or seven, or even beyond that, and throwing 200 innings per year instead of 70 or 80."
Reliever or starter, Thornburg's path to the big leagues may have quickened after Brewers general manager Doug Melvin gutted his farm system to get a couple of quality starters last offseason.
Gone is talented infielder Brett Lawrie, who went to the Blue Jays for Shaun Marcum. And gone are talented right-handers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress, who went to the Royals as part of the Zack Greinke deal.
Still there -- and waiting -- is Thornburg.
"It's definitely a great organization to be in right now, with all the prospects we've traded away," said Thornburg, rated by MLB.com as the Brewers' ninth-best prospect. "Hopefully we'll make it to the playoffs this year, and hopefully I can put myself in their minds enough to maybe get a spot in that bullpen or something. You never know."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.