Josh Vitters. Busting out or just teasing us? (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
It wasn't quite the same margin as in April, but once again you chose Anthony Rizzo as the BCB Minor League Player of the Month. Quite well deserved, actually.
Now we turn to the pitchers. I didn't remind you yesterday, but do remember this award is designed to reward performance, not prospect status. (Although Rizzo would have won under either criteria.)
The candidates are:
Iowa Cubs RHP Rodrigo Lopez: Lopez went down to the minors at the end of April, but he hasn't sulked in Iowa and provided some stability in the I-Cubs rotation. He hasn't been going very deep in games as he builds up his arm strength after pitching out of the pen, but in six games this month with Iowa, Lopez is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA. He's pitched 19 innings and has struck out 17 and walked six. He's yet to allow a home run this season, either in the minors or the majors.
Tennessee Smokies RHP Kevin Rhoderick: Rhoderick has emerged as the Smokies closer this season and he's excelled in that role. In May, Rhoderick appeared in nine games and got four saves. In the 12.2 innings he pitched, he allowed only one run for the month, and that was unearned. He struck out nine and walked five.
Daytona Cubs RHP Matt Loosen: The Daytona Cubs had a horrible April, but finished with a 14-13 record in May. The improved pitching of Loosen played a big role in that turnaround. After going 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in three starts in April, Loosen went 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA in May. That ERA was clean, too, as he did not allow any unearned runs in the month either. Loosen pitched 26.1 innings for the month. He struck out 27 and walked only six.
Peoria Chiefs/Daytona Cubs RHP P.J. Francescon: Francescon pitched so well for Peoria this month that the Cubs sent him to Daytona. Between the two teams, Francescon went 3-1 with a 2.58 ERA in six starts. Over 38.1 innings, Francescon struck out 26 batters and walked 14
Peoria Chiefs RHP Kyler Burke: As bad as the Chiefs offense was in May, their pitching kept them in a lot of games. Besides Burke and Francescon, Michael Jensen and Ben Wells shined brightly for the Chiefs. Burke was only 1-1 on the month, but he had a 2.60 ERA over 34.2 innings. Burke struck out 20 and walked 15. He's held opposing hitters to a .215 batting average for the month.
Two down, two to go. Let's go Kings.
After the jump, a big game for Javier Baez. Your May Minor League Player of the Month returned as well.
The Iowa Cubs were tarred and feathered by the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Astros), 11-8.
Rodrigo Lopez started tonight and left the game with Iowa leading, although he gave up four runs over five innings. Lopez was touched for five hits. He walked two and struck out four.
Iowa had an 8-4 lead at the stretch, but Oklahoma City scored seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead away for good. Ryan Rowland-Smith blew the lead when he allowed a grand slam to Brett Wallace. Rowland-Smith allowed four runs on two hits, a walk and a hit batsman over 1.1 innings. He did have one strikeout.
Rowland-Smith exited after the Wallace granny, but the RedHawks continued to score against Mike MacDougal, who took his first loss of the year. MacDougal lasted two-thirds of an inning and allowed three runs on three hits and two walks. MacDougal also struck out one.
Third baseman Josh Vitters led off the fifth inning with his ninth home run and fifth in eight days. Vitters also had an RBI double in a 2 for 5 game. That gave him two total RBI and he scored the one time.
Center fielder Brett Jackson led off the game with his league-leading eighth triple. He also doubled twice and stole a base in a 3 for 5 game. Jackson scored twice.
Shorstop Luis Valbuena was a perfect 2 for 2 with two walks. Valbuena scored twice and knocked one in. Catcher Blake Lalli hit two doubles in a 2 for 4 night. Lalli had one RBI. Left fielder Ty Wright was 2 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo went 2 for 4 with a double. He scored once and was walked intentionally once. I still bet some wisenheimer is going to ask "Did Rizzo play?" in the comments.
The Tennessee Smokies were cooked by the Montgomery Biscuits (Rays), 4-3 in ten innings.
Starter Dae-Eun Rhee held the Biscuits scoreless for five innings, but he couldn't finish the sixth inning after allowing three unearned runs after a Junior Lake error and a home run. Rhee pitched 5.2 innings and allowed three unearned runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out one.
After Ty'Relle Harris allowed a one-out double and a wild pitch put the runner on third, he intentionally walked the bases loaded with one out. Harris then unintentionally walked in the winning run. Harris allowed one run on two hits and four walks (two intentional) over 1.1 innings.
The Daytona Cubs were unimpressed by the Ft. Myers Miracle (Twins), 10-5.
Eduardo Figueroa pitched the first three innings and allowed only one run on three hits. Figueroa walked three and struck out one.
Because Figueroa didn't go five, the win went to Ryan Searle, who did not allow a run over the next three innings. Searle gave up two hit, walked one and struck out three.
The D-Cubs banged out 16 hits, and none of them left the yard. Right fielder John Andreoli led the attack by going 3 for 4 with a double and a walk. Andreoli also stole a base. He scored three times and had one RBI.
Right behind Andreoli in the batting order was shortstop Arismendy Alcantara, who was 2 for 5 with a double and a triple. Alcantara scored twice and batted three men in.
Center fielder Rubi Silva was 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored. Left fielder Nelson Perez had three runs batted in while going 2 for 5. Catcher Micah Gibbs was 2 for 4 with a walk. Gibbs also scored once.
The Peoria Chiefs stuffed and mounted the Kane County Cougars (Royals), 15-3.
As impressive as the Chiefs offense was tonight, starter Jose Rosario was just as impressive. Rosario pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits and walking four. Rosario fanned ten batters, which was a career high for him.
The Chiefs exploded for 15 runs tonight after scoring eight the night before at Burlington, giving them 23 for June. They scored 20 runs total in the final nine games they played in May.
Shortstop Javier Baez blasted a home run to deep center field with two on in the second inning. It was the first professional home run for Baez. Baseball Prospectus writer Kevin Goldstein, who was at the game, said it was the farthest he'd seen a ball hit at the ballpark in Geneva in almost a decade. It cleared the Pepsi sign in center. Baez went 3 for 5.
Baez caused a bit of a firestorm on Twitter tonight, however, when he swung at a 3-0 pitch in the 9th inning with the Chiefs leading 15-2. He fouled the ball back, and the Cougars manager immediately went to the mound after the pitch. The next pitch went right into Baez's ribs. Both the Cougars manager and pitcher were immediately ejected and Baez went to first base without complaining. But all of this started a debate about baseball's "unwritten rules."
Right fielder Taiwan Easterling hit his first home run of the year in the ninth inning with a man on. Eastering was 1 for 5 with three RBI.
Second baseman Wes Darvill was 4 for 6 with an RBI and two runs scored. Third baseman Anthony Giansanti went 2 for 6 with a run scored and two batted in. Giansanti also stole a base.
The Chiefs drew ten walks tonight. Five of them were by center fielder Pin-Chieh Chen, who went 1 for 1 when he wasn't walking. In the five years I've been doing this, I can never remember a player walking five times in one game. Chen scored four times. He also stole a base.
Four of the other five walks were by first baseman Paul Hoilman. Hoilman was 1 for 2 and scored three runs.
Who should be the BCB Minor League Pitcher of the Month?
Iowa Cubs Rodrigo Lopez (34 votes)
Tennessee Smokies Kevin Rhoderick (33 votes)
Daytona Cubs Matt Loosen (61 votes)
Peoria/Daytona PJ Francescon (68 votes)
Peoria Chiefs Kyler Burke (83 votes)
279 total votes