By a margin that would make a former Soviet Bloc dictator blush, your choice for BCB Minor League Player of the Month is Iowa Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Congratulations to Anthony and I know we all hope to see him playing in Wrigley for many years to come.
Now it's time to vote on the pitchers. This one will likely be closer. The candidates are:
Iowa Cubs Chris Rusin: With all the starters down in Iowa who didn't make the major league team, it was Rusin (pronounced like Russ-in) who outpitched them all. The left-handed breaking ball specialist from the University of Kentucky had five starts and had a 2-2 record with a 2.63 ERA. He's a ground-ball pitcher who only walked six and only struck out thirteen in 27.1 innings.
Tennessee Smokies Trey McNutt: It was hard to nominate McNutt because he only threw 14.2 innings over four starts in April and there were other worthy candidates, such as Nick Struck and Dallas Beeler. But even though he was limited by pitch counts and blisters, McNutt only allowed one run on nine hits. That's total runs too as he didn't tack on any unearned runs either. That makes for a 0.61 ERA for the month. McNutt was also missing bats as he struck out 13, but he also missed the plate too much as he walked seven.
Daytona Cubs Austin Kirk: The Oklahoma left-hander was 0-1 for the month, but that wasn't his fault as he had a 1.53 ERA over 29.1 innings and five appearances. He had a WHIP under 1.0 for the month as well. He didn't have many strikeouts for the month with 15, but he's had a better K rate in previous seasons.
Peoria Chiefs Michael Jensen: The right-handed Salinas, California native was excellent in his first four starts of the season before experiencing a hiccup in his final start of the month. He still finished with an impressive 3-1 record with a 2.79 ERA. His K/BB ratio was encouraging as well as he struck out 22 and walked only eight in 29 innings.
Peoria Chiefs Patrick "PJ" Francescon: The right-hander from NAIA school Trevecca Nazarene in Nashville finished the month strong with 13 consecutive scoreless innings in his final two starts. He finished the month with a 2-1 record and a 2.00 ERA in 27 innings. He's allowed only 14 hits and four walks. He's also struck out 26 batters, giving him an impressive K% and K/BB ratio.
Games after the jump:
Starting pitcher Casey Coleman retired the first nine batters he faced tonight, but gave up a single and a double put men on second and third to lead off the fourth inning. He then took a line shot off his leg or knee that he picked up and threw home to catch the runner at third in a rundown. Coleman stayed in the game, but couldn't throw a strike after that. He walked the next two batters to force in a run. He was relieved by Manuel Corpas, who gave up a sac fly before getting out of the inning with no further damage. But the Redbirds pitchers made the two runs they got in that inning stand up.
Corpas went on to toss 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing but two hits and then Jeff Beliveau wasn't scored upon in the final two innings, giving up only one hit.
The only Iowa scoring came from shortstop Luis Valbuena, who hit a solo home run in the eighth inning. It was his third home run this year. Valbuena was 1 for 3.
The Tennessee Smokies kneaded the Montgomery Biscuits (Rays), 9-5 in an early morning special.
Nick Struck started and picked up the win, allowing four runs over 5.1 innings. One of the four runs was unearned. Struck gave up five hits and walked four. He struck out three.
Center fielder Jim Adduci hit a solo home run in the fourth inning. It was his second of the season. Adduci was 1 for 3 with a walk and a sac fly. He had two RBI.
Third baseman Jonathan Mota homered in the fifth inning as the Smokies scored in each of the first five innings. It was his third home run of the season. Mota had a big day, going 3 for 4 with three RBI.
Second baseman Logan Watkins was 3 for 5 with a triple and he scored twice. DH Jae-Hoon Ha was 3 for 5 with an RBI. He scored three times. First baseman Justin Bour went 2 for 4 with a double. He scored once and knocked two in.
In another school day special, the Daytona Cubs were crashed against the rocks by the Clearwater Threshers (Phillies), 6-4.
Eric Jokisch had a quality start today, but that wasn't enough as he took the loss anyway. Jokisch pitched six innings and allowed three runs on six hits, two of which were solo home runs. Jokisch walked two and struck out seven.
Left fielder John Andreoli and third baseman Greg Rohan batted third and fourth today and had identical lines: 2 for 4 with a double. They each scored twice.
The Peoria Chiefs were mauled by the Kane County Cougars (Royals), 6-4.
Starter PJ Francescon gave up a three-run home run in the second inning, but it was the only time he was scored upon. Francescon went a season-high seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits. Francescon walked three and struck out six.
Yao-Lin Wang entered the game with the score tied 3-3 in the eighth and walked the first batter. After a two-base error by third baseman Wes Darvill put runners on second and third, he balked home the go-ahead run. He walked one more batter and got a fly out before exiting with runners on second and third and one out. When Andrew McKirahan allowed a two-out, two run single, Wang was charged with three run on no hits and two walks over a third of an inning. One of the three runs was earned, and that was the first earned run that Wang has allowed this season.
DH Paul Hoilman had two doubles in four at bats to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. Hoilman had one RBI.
Center fielder Pin-Chieh Chen was 2 for 3 with a walk. He scored twice. He stole second once and was thrown out trying to steal second once.