Sean Townsley has definitely turned some heads in his first year in Greensboro this season. A 6'7'' left-handed pitcher always will–but Townsley has been one of the best pitchers this year in the Sally League, whether it be as a starter or a reliever. Townsley's numbers have flown under the radar the past two years because he's a 25th round pick who is already 23 years old, but he deserves to get more attention because he hasn't found a role on the team that he hasn't thrived in.
Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania outside of Reading, Townsley headed south to Florence-Darlington College in South Carolina following his high school graduation. There he spent two years, putting up strong numbers, especially with strikeouts, but not anything that jumped off box scores. Tonwsley then transferred to High Point University, which coincidence or not, is a mere twenty minutes drive from Greensboro. Things didn't get off to a great start for Townsley at High Point, as a torn ACL in his first start set him back about a year. Also, at some point during his time there, he got Tommy John surgery. However, later on he began to show signs of promise pitching out of the High Point bullpen and that led to the Marlins taking him with their 25th Round pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur draft.
Townsley's repertoire isn't one of a shutdown closer or a top of the rotation ace, but he makes it work. Townsley throws a fastball in the high 80's, and a change up, but his best pitch is probably a biting knuckle curve. Not to throw an unfair comparison into the mix, but Nationals pitcher Doug Fister shares a lot of commonalities with Townsley. Fister is 6'8'', throws a fastball that has always topped out at about 88 MPH, and he wasn't very highly regarded as a prospect as well. In today's game, being tall and left-handed can take you a long ways but Townsley still has a ton of work to do to keep getting better.
Townsley got started with the GCL Marlins in 2013, making it to Batavia before the end of the season. As one would expect, Townsley pitched out of the bullpen for both teams, not starting a single game. To his credit, he was very successful, striking out 41 in 31 innings and posting a 1.44 ERA on the season. In 2014, Townsley has filled in wherever the Grasshoppers have needed him. He's started 11 of 17 of the games he pitched in, but it appears that he's still not set in either role.
Whether it's been as a starter or a reliever, Townsley has been lights out for Greensboro. Townsley has a 2.94 FIP in 82 innings pitched with 73 strikeouts and only 14 walks. It's hard to tell what's in store for Townsley down the line but if he keeps pitching like this it won't be long before he earns a promotion to Jupiter. Sean Townsley has done everything the Marlins have asked him to do and then some, and that never goes unnoticed.