It's time to award someone the coveted BCB Minor League Pitcher of the Month award. The plaque these players will win will no doubt sit in their trophy room for a long time, right next to the Emperor's New Clothes and their rabbit named Harvey.
The rules are the same as they are for the player of the month. If you need to review, go back to the last article. On thing I should make clear. While you don't have to be a prospect or have rookie eligibility to win this award, someone like Jake Arrieta who was only in the minors on a rehab assignment is ineligible.
The candidates are:
Iowa Cubs Tsuyoshi Wada. At 33, Wada is hardly a kid after a nine-year career in NPB and two injury-filled seasons in the Orioles system. But for the first time, Wada started to show some of the skills that gave him a 107-61 record in Japan. In April, Wada was pretty much unhittable, posting a 3-1 record in four starts with a 0.68 ERA. Both runs he allowed in April scored on solo home runs (and he didn't give up any unearned runners either). Wada pitched 26⅓ innings, struck out 29 and only walked three. Opposing hitters only hit .156 off him.
Tennessee Smokies Corey Black: The guy the Cubs got back from the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano continues to impress. He had not one but two starts this month in which he was pulled after reaching his pitch count despite having not allowed a hit in the game. Yep, he got pulled from a no-hitter twice in April. In 23 innings, opposing teams only got ten hits off of him for a .128 batting average. He did walk 13 in those 23 innings while striking out 21. He had a record of 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA.
Tennessee Smokies Ivan Pineyro: Pineyro was the return from the Nationals for Scott Hairston last season and despite an 0-2 start to the season, he pitched very well in April (Sometimes I wonder if I should just "kill the win" and not even bother to mention W-L records). In five starts and 26⅓ innings, Pineyro struck out 23 and walked 12 on the way to a 2.39 ERA.
Daytona Cubs Felix Pena: Pena is the first player on this list who was originally signed by the Cubs. He's been around since 2009 and has shown promise, but has always been more solid than anything spectacular, although he was a mid-season Midwest League All-Star last year. But Pena was consistent in a good way in April, allowing exactly one earned run in each of his five starts in April. (He had one unearned run for the month.) This left him with an ERA of 1.55, although the D-Cubs didn't score him any runs so he finished the month with a 1-3 record. Over 29 innings, he struck out 18 and walked 11, while holding opposing hitters to a .188 ERA.
Kane County Cougars Zack Godley: In the second game of the season, Godley got called to nail down the save in game one of a doubleheader, and the Cougars ended up losing when he allowed two runs in a third of an inning. Since then, Godley has been lights out. He went 5 for 5 in save chances and didn't allow a run the rest of the month, encompassing 11⅓ innings. His ERA, when counting his first bad game, was 1.54. Godley struck out 21 and walked only four while he held opposing batters to a .128 batting average. Maybe he's a little old for the Midwest League, but that doesn't diminish how dominant he's been. (Also, age isn't nearly as important for pitchers as it is for hitters.) At 24, I'd expect Godley to head off to Daytona sooner rather than later.
Apologies go out to Jen-Ho Tseng.