Congratulations to Rock Shoulders, your choice for the BCB Minor League Player of the Month!
Now that you have the voting for the player of the month out of the way, it's time to vote for the BCB Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April. Once again, this award is meant to honor production and not prospect status. You can use whatever criteria you'd like, however. If you think someone has a high ERA because of a bad babip and crappy defense behind him, that's perfectly fine to vote for him over someone else.
The candidates are
Iowa Cubs Yoanner Negrin: The Cuban Negrin has been a middle-reliever for Iowa, but he's logged a lot of innings while bridging the gap between the starters and Blake Parker. He pitched 15.1 innings and allowed five runs (all in his final four appearances, unfortunately) for a 2.93 ERA. He's been most impressive in controlling the strike zone as he struck out 18 and only walked three batters in those 15.1 innings. Combine those strikeouts with his strong ground ball tendencies (his sinker is probably his best pitch) and he's starting to look like someone who could help the Cubs soon.
Tennessee Smokies Eric Jokisch: A left-handed product of Northwestern, Jokisch has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the Cubs system. He doesn't throw hard, but he combines good control and changing speeds to get outs. His changeup is a true plus pitch. In five starts in April, he pitched 29.1 innings and had a 1.84 ERA. He struck out 21 batters and only walked six. His record is 3-1.
Tennessee Smokies Kyle Hendricks: The "other" player the Cubs got in the Ryan Dempster deal, Hendricks is a bit like a right-handed version of Jokisch, except that he throws harder. He was voted as having the best control in the Cubs system by Baseball America last season after he only walked 18 batters in 147.2 innings. His control hasn't been quite as good this year, but in 26 innings over five starts, he's walked eight and struck out 23. He finished the month by taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning against Pensacola. His record stands at 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA. Hendricks went to Dartmouth, so there is some impressive brain power in the Smokies rotation. Or a lot of frat parties--one or the other. Maybe both.
Daytona Cubs Ben Wells: The 20 year old right-hander was the D-Cubs ace in April, going 3-1 in five starts with a 3.31 ERA. Wells relies mostly on his fastball. He had 18 strikeouts and 12 walks in the month.
Kane County Cougars Pierce Johnson: Last season's first round supplemental pick was pretty advanced coming out of Missouri State, so it's not a surprise that he's dominating the Midwest League. After getting hammered for five runs in 2.1 innings on opening day, Johnson has only allowed four runs, two earned, over the next 15.2 innings in his next three starts. He finished the month going 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA. He struck out 21 and walked only six in 18 innings. He may not be long for Kane County, so get out to see him while you can.
Postponed because of snow. Will be made up as part of a day/night double header on June 8.
Isn't it May already?
The Tennessee Smokies shut out the Mississippi Braves, 7-0.
The story of tonight was starter Dallas Beeler, who had a no hitter going before he allowed a lead-off double in the bottom of the sixth. That would be the only hit he allowed tonight in his 6.2 innings. He walked three (two of them in the seventh) and struck out five.
Catcher Rafael Lopez hit his first home run of the season to lead off the top of the eighth inning to make the score 4-0. Lopez was 1 for 3 with two walks. He scored twice.
Center fielder Rubi Silva was 3 for 4 with a triple. Silva scored twice. Second baseman Ronald Torreyes was 2 for 5 with a double and a run scored. Right fielder Johermyn Chavez was 2 for 5 and scored once while first baseman Jonathan Mota was 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs batted in.
Third baseman Christian Villanueva went 2 for 5 with a stolen base and at least three terrific defensive plays at third base. He scored once and had one RBI.
The Daytona Cubs won their fifth game in a row by taming the Lakeland Flying Tigers, 6-2.
Starter Austin Kirk improved his record to 4-1 by scattering ten hits for two runs over six innings. Kirk did not walk anyone (you can't when you give up ten hits) and he struck out four.
Left fielder John Andreoli was 2 for 5 with a run scored and his ninth stolen base. First baseman Dustin Geiger went 2 for 4 and scored once. Second baseman Anthony Giansanti went 2 for 3 with a sacrifice fly.
Stephen Bruno was the DH again, but he still keeps hitting, going 2 for 4 with a double. He scored two runs and had one batted in.
Kane County Cougars
Rain/snow out number nine. They'll try to play a double-header tomorrow, but the forecast isn't much better.
But if the weather does clear up tomorrow afternoon by 4 pm when they're scheduled to start, take off work or school early and catch two games. You'd rather be at the ballpark anyway.