Time for the BCB Minor League Player of the Month Award for July. As always, I intend this award to be a reward for good play and not prospect status, but you can vote for whomever you want.
I'm making one change to the voting this month. In the past I had one candidate from each of the top five minor league teams, with one extra from the first two months when Boise didn't play. But Peoria had one seriously bad month and there were two players from Daytona who had excellent months. The best players for Peoria were probably Greg Rohan who got promoted mid-month to Daytona, or Taiwan Eastering, who only played 13 games in Peoria because he was promoted from Rookie Ball mid-month, and his month was really just OK anyway. So I broke my own rules and nominated two Daytona players and no Peoria player. They're my arbitrary rules, I can break them if I want. Don't worry, the Chiefs will have a pitcher nominated tomorrow.
The other issue was that the Smokies player with the best month was Ty Wright, who only took off after getting demoted from Iowa. I don't have a problem with giving the award to a player like Wright, but not for the month in which he was demoted. If he keeps hitting like this in August, he'll get nominated next month.
Now on to the candidates:
Catcher Welington Castillo: He finished the month on the disabled list thanks to a bad hamstring, but Castillo was hitting with the ball with authority before he got sidelined. While his July wasn't as good as his month of June, Castillo did hit over .300 with a .322/.365/.542 line over 16 games. He hit four home runs but only eight RBI, which shows the anemia of the I-Cubs offense this month. But none of that was Castillo's fault.
Third baseman Josh Vitters: The Smokies didn't have a good month with the bat, but Vitters had his best power month of the year with four home runs. His final slash stats of .277/.317/.457 were a bit down from his June numbers, but they included five walks in 26 games, which is also a season high. No, walking once every five games isn't good, but it is at least a step in the right direction for Vitters. He also had 15 RBI in the month.
Shortstop Logan Watkins: Watkins did not have an OBP over .500 in July like he did in June, but he was impressive nonetheless with a slash line of .321/.384/.527. Even better, the power he started to show in June stuck around in July as he hit six triples and two home runs. He also stole four bases and was only caught once.
Outfielder Evan Crawford: I don't care what anyone says, I like this guy. After a disappointing June, Crawford bounced back to his April/May numbers by hitting .363/404/.451 over 23 games. He scored 22 runs and he stole eleven bases without getting caught once in July. Those numbers probably aren't sustainable, but I'd like to see him get a chance in Tennessee so we can find out.
Catcher Rafael Lopez: The Cubs 16th round pick out of Florida State, where he was a teammate of Easterling, hit his first, second, third and fourth professional home runs in the month of July. His triple slash stats for the month were .308/.398/.462 and his defensive reputation coming out of FSU was strong. As a four-year player in college he's a little old for Boise, but someone has to catch there. So far, he's making the most of it.
After the jump, today's games.
The Iowa Cubs blew a 7-0 lead after five inning and a 7-2 lead after seven innings to fall to the Memphis Redbirds, 8-7.
The bullpen blew a great start by Casey Coleman. He allowed two runs on two solo home runs over six innings, but no other runs. He allowed only four total hits. Most importantly for Coleman, he struck out eight and only walked one.
Scott Maine got the last out of the eighth inning, but then ran into trouble in the ninth. He allowed a single and a walk with no outs, and then retired the next two batters on a strikeout and a pop up. After a two-out walk loaded the bases, Maine served up a walk-off grand slam to Redbird Shane Robinson. Robinson hit two home runs for Memphis tonight.
Shortstop Jonathan Mota hit a solo home run in the fifth inning; his fifth of the season. Mota also doubled in a 2 for 4 game. He had two RBI.
Left fielder Lou Montanez was 4 for 5 with a double. First baseman Bryan LaHair went 3 for 5 with a double. He scored once and batted one in.
Catcher Chris Robinson went 2 for 5 with a double. He scored twice and had one RBI. Right fielder Brad Snyder went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. He scored once and had one RBI.
The Tennessee Smokies defenestrated the Birmingham Barons, 5-2.
Starter Marco Carrillo allowed a solo home run in the second inning, but that was the only run he allowed over seven innings. He only allowed four total hits. He walked two and struck out five.
Marcus Hatley pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his second save. Hatley walked one, but did not allow a hit. He struck out two.
Third baseman Josh Vitters was 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Daytona Cubs celebrated Shark Week by spearing the Jupiter Hammerheads, 4-3 in ten innings.
Angel Guzman pitched two shutout innings to start the game. He gave up one hit but walked no one and struck out two.
Kyle Smit then ended the game with two shutout innings to get the win. He allowed two hits and walked one batter intentionally. Smit struck out one.
Third baseman Rafael Valdes hit a walkoff RBI single in the tenth inning to score Justin Bour from third. Valdes was 2 for 5 with two RBI.
Catcher Michael Brenly was also 2 for 5 with two runs batted in. Right fielder Abner Abreu makes his first appearance in the Minor League Wrap by going 2 for 4 with his first Cub extra-base hit, a double. He scored once.
Center fielder Matt Szczur was 2 for 5 with a triple. He also stole a base.
The Peoria Chiefs sawed off the Clinton LumberKings, 8-6.
Starter Sterling Peralta picked up the win by allowing only two runs on five hits over five innings. Peralta walked three and struck out three.
Yohan Gonzalez allowed two runs on four hits over 2.1 innings to get the save. Both runs scored on a two-run home run in the ninth inning. Gonzalez did not issue a walk and struck out one.
First baseman Richard Jones hit his 18th home run of the year in the sixth inning with a man on. Jones was 3 for 5 on the night. The home run gave him twenty career home runs for the Chiefs, making him only the 16th player to accomplish that.
Third baseman Dustin Geiger went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. He scored twice.
Right fielder Anthony Giansanti was also 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. Giansanti had one RBI.
Catcher Micah Gibbs went 2 for 3 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Gibbs scored once. Left fielder Ben Klafczynski went 2 for 4 with a walk. Klafczynski scored once and had one RBI.
Coming home to the Treasure Valley.
Hayden Simpson pitched four innings and gave up one run on three hits. He walked three and struck out four.