It's the last day of the regular season.
No surprise on the BCB Player of the Month award, although I thought the vote would be a lot closer, considering the month that Kris Bryant had. But your choice for the award is Javier Baez! So congratulations on another great month for Javy.
Now it's time to vote once again for the Cubs Minor League Pitcher Of The Month. The competition this month for this category was fierce and I could have done five candidates just from Daytona. But then I would have shafted some great pitchers from other teams.
Same rules apply.
Iowa Cubs Kyle Hendricks: The runaway favorite for the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year probably cemented that award by getting promoted to Iowa and dominating in a tough league for pitchers. Hendricks made his last start for Tennessee on August 1, allowing one run on seven hits over six innings. Then in five starts for Iowa, Hendricks went 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA. Over 34 innings, Hendricks struck out 26 and only walked six. He went seven or more innings in four of his five starts with Iowa.
Tennessee Smokies Eric Jokisch: The Northwestern alum and Central Illinois native threw a nine-inning no-hitter in his first start this month. But all five of his starts this season would have been considered "quality starts" had one not been a relief appearance after a long rain delay. His final line for the month was 3-2 with a 1.78 ERA. Jokisch struck out 24 and only walked nine over 35.1 innings.
Daytona Cubs Pierce Johnson: Again, there were at least five guys for Daytona that would have been worthy candidates for this award as the D-Cubs went 20-6 over the month of August. But if anyone challenges Hendricks for pitcher of the year it would be Johnson, who might just have to settle for being the top pitching prospect. In only four games in August, Johnson pitched 17. 2 innings. He only allowed two runs over that time (earned or otherwise) on only 11 hits. He struck out 22 and walked nine.
Kane County Cougars Stephen Perakslis: Perakslis was the Cougars closer in August, which unfortunately didn't mean a lot of save chances. But he converted all three save chances he got and only allowed one run all month in nine games. That gave Perakslis a 1.64 ERA over 11 innings. He struck out 11 and walked only two for an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Boise Hawks Jasvir Rakkar: Rakkar was a 26th round pick last year from that SUNY Stony Brook team that miraculously made the College World Series. In August, Rakkar was just dominating out of the pen (except in one game). He went 3-0 with one save and a 1.98 ERA over eight games. But what really earned Rakkar the nomination this month was an impressive 21 strikeouts and only two walks in 13.2 innings.
The Iowa Cubs fell in their season finale, 2-1 to the Nashville Sounds (Brewers).
Starter Kyle Hendricks allowed a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning and that's all it took to get him his first Triple-A loss. Hendricks allowed two runs on six hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out one.
Iowa's only run came on a home run from second baseman Tim Torres in the fifth inning. Torres also doubled in a 2 for 3 game.
Shortstop Edwin Maysonet and right fielder Dave Sappelt were both 2 for 4.
Nashville left fielder Hainley Statia robbed what would have been a two-run home run by Greg Rohan in the top of the ninth with a leaping catch above the wall.
Iowa's final record was 66-78, which put them in third place, four games behind division winner Omaha.
The Tennessee Smokies couldn't hide from the Chattanooga Lookouts (Dodgers), 4-3
Starter Eric Jokisch allowed four runs on eight hits over 5.2 innings. One of his four runs was unearned. Jokisch did strike out seven and not walk anyone, but his record still fell to 11-13.
Third baseman Christian Villanueva was 1 for 4 with his 19th home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth.
Catcher Taylor Davis went 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored.
Tennessee finished the season at 76-62, which was the second-best record in the Southern League behind Mobile. They finished the second half at 42-27, which was the best second-half record in the league and won their division by nine games.
The Smokies start their best-of-five playoff series at first-half champion Birmingham on Thursday.
I probably should have mentioned this yesterday, but their regular season ended yesterday. They finished with a record of 75-51, which was the best in the Florida State League. (Although they did play nine fewer games than second-place Ft. Myers. Ft. Myers actually had 79 wins.) Their second-half record was 40-20, which won their division by eight games.
They start their best-of-three playoff series against first-half champion Dunedin tomorrow night at home. Corey Black will take the mound for Daytona whereas Dunedin will counter with former Cubs farmhand Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who got demoted to the Florida State League for the post-season.
Kane County Cougars
The Kane County Cougars ended their season on a high note with a 5-4 win over the Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals).
Scott Baker started this game on a rehab assignment and allowed a single, a home run and a single to the first three batters he faced. After that he calmed down and had a good outing. Baker lasted 5.2 innings and allowed two runs on six hits. He struck out four and didn't walk anyone.
Rafael Dolis, on the other hand, only got nine pitches into his rehab appearance before he had to leave with an apparent injury.
Jose Arias pitched a scoreless eighth inning, but then exited after allowing a walk and an infield single to the first two batters he faced in the ninth. Arias then exited with the Cougars leading 4-2, but reliever Michael Hamann allowed both inherited runners to score.
Arias was charged with two runs on two hits and two walks over 1+ innings. He struck out one. Hamann was awarded the win when Kane County scored in the bottom of the ninth. Hamann pitched one inning and allowed no runs on one hit. He struck out one and did not issue a walk.
The Cougars won the game in the bottom of the ninth on a bases-loaded walk-off walk by shortstop Giuseppe Papaccio. Papaccio was 3 for 4 with that walk. He had two total RBI.
Center fielder Oliver Zapata hit a solo home run in the second inning, his seventh of the year. Zapata was 1 for 3 and was hit by a pitch.
Third baseman Jeimer Candelario was 3 for 5 with two runs scored.
This ends Kane County's season with a franchise-worst 55-80 record. They finished the second-half at 25-44, 22 games behind Cedar Rapids.
The Boise Hawks were baked by the Hillsboro Hops (Diamondbacks), 10-6.
It was a rough start for Michael Wagner, who allowed two home runs to Hillsboro's George Roberts, one solo home run and one three-run bomb. Wagner pitched three innings and allowed four runs on five hits. Wagner struck out four and did not walk anyone.
Another rough appearance for Juan Paniagua, who allowed three runs on four hits over two innings of relief. Paniagua struck out two, walked three and had two wild pitches.
Right fielder Rony Rodriguez was 2 for 3 with a double and two walks. Rodriguez had three RBI and scored one run.
Center fielder Shawon Dunston was 2 for 4 with a sacrifice fly. Dunston scored once.
Third baseman David Bote was 2 for 5 with one RBI and one run scored.
Despite getting swept by Hillsboro, Salem-Keizer's sweep of Eugene clinched both halves for the Volcanoes. That means the second playoff spot goes to the team with the second-best record, and that's Boise, who ended the season at 41-35. Their second-half record was 20-18. They take on Salem-Keizer in a best-of-three series starting tomorrow night at Memorial Stadium in Boise.
So that's it for the minor league regular season. See you tomorrow with playoff games for Daytona and Boise! Also, tomorrow night at 6 pm Chicago time on ESPN2, the show E:60 will be doing a story on Smokies outfielder Matt Szczur. So you may want to tune in for that.