September 6, 2012
Every year, dozens of prospects are traded. We don’t expect much from most of them. This year, the Detroit Tigers made a trade to help their big league club, acquiring Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante for a trio of prospects (the clubs also swapped draft picks). The centerpiece of the prospect package headed to Miami was Jacob Turner, one of the more well-known pitching prospects in the game. Another player in the deal was the athletic catcher Rob Brantly, who had just played in front of a national audience at the Futures Game in Kansas City. The Tigers did give up one more player, but he came with almost zero hype. That was a big lefty named Brian Flynn.
Flynn, like last week’s Prospect Profile subject, Dylan Bundy, attended Owasso High School in Sperry, Oklahoma. A natural athlete, he played basketball and baseball in high school, but he struggled to maintain his grades during his first two years. Coach Larry Turner decided to keep him in the program anyway. Flynn had yet to succeed in high school baseball, but he had shown some promise on the summer circuit, and before long, his capabilities became obvious.
Turner recalled giving a speech to his players prior to Flynn’s senior season. The team had lost talented pitchers in consecutive years and needed someone to step up. The day after Turner’s speech, he received a note. “Coach, you can count on me,” read the note. It was from Flynn. Soon, the southpaw began to believe in himself on the mound.
With his confidence came success. He committed to play baseball at Wichita State. Then the Boston Red Sox drafted him in the 18th round of the 2008 draft. Flynn was obviously ecstatic, but he wasn’t ready for pro ball. “I needed to mature not just on the field, but off the field,” Flynn said. “I was willing to take the risk of going to college and coming out a more complete pitcher and hitting the ground running from there.”
That’s exactly what he’s done.
The Tigers selected the 6’8” southpaw in the seventh round of the 2011 draft. He signed early enough to make 13 starts in Low-A last year, and his off-season work ethic was enough to land him a spot in High-A to start 2012. Decent strikeout and walk rates as well as advanced feel for pitching and excellent makeup were enough to get him bumped up to Double-A.