It's time to vote for the BCB Minor League Pitcher of the Month for June! This award, along with the award for position players, is a year older than the "official" award the Cubs give out, so that means it's more prestigious, right? It's an honor either way.
The rules are the same as those for the players. The award is meant to honor production, not prospect status. You can use whatever criteria you'd like to decide among the five candidates.
The candidates are:
Iowa Cubs Tsuyoshi Wada: The Cubs pretty notably added Wada to the 40 man roster this month and it certainly looks like he'll be the first one to get the call as soon as there's an opening in the major league rotation. For the month of June, the left-handed Wada made six starts and went 5-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 35.2 innings. He controlled the strike zone pretty well with 37 strikeouts compared to only ten walks. His best start of the month came at 6000 feet in Colorado Springs when he didn't allow a run over 6.2 innings.
Tennessee Smokies Dae-Eun Rhee: Rhee is in his third season in Tennessee so his once-high prospect status has dimmed a bit. But in June, Rhee flashed some of his old brilliance, making six starts and going 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA. In 37.2 innings, he struck out 20 and walked ten. But Rhee's changeup is designed to get ground balls, not strike outs, and he had a 1.63 ground out/air out ratio in June, which is a season-high and a big reason for his success in June.
Daytona Cubs Rob Zastryzny: Zastryzny got off to a bad start to the season in great part due to a very high batting average against. Whether he started pitching better or just the babip gods got on his side, Zastryzny held opposing hitters to a .193 batting average after they clobbered him for .344 in the first two months. That led him a record of 0-2 with a 1.90 ERA in June. In 23.2 innings, Zastryzny struck out 23 and walked only five.
Kane County Cougars Juan Paniagua: The Cougars have dominated the Midwest League this season because of incredible pitching. There were six players who could have gotten the nod here, and I want to give a special shout out to James Pugliese, who struck out 19 and didn't walk anyone in 13 relief innings in June.
But the nod here goes to Paniagua, who showed once again in June why he was so highly thought of as an international prospect that three teams signed him. But the Cubs signed him last and now they have to be pretty happy about that. In three starts and one relief appearance, Paniagua pitched 20.1 innings and posted a 0.89 ERA and a 3-0 record. He did allow two unearned runs, but that still only made four total runs for the month. Paniagua dominated the strike zone, striking out 26 batters and walking only five. Opposing hitters could only manage a .194 batting average off him in June.
Boise Hawks Trevor Clifton: A 12th round pick out of high school last season and his Boise career is off to a strong start. He made three starts and went 1-0 with a 3.14 ERA. In 14.1 innings, he struck out 17 and walked seven. He got his first professional win on June 27 against Hillsboro when he allowed only one unearned run in a six-inning start. Not bad for a guy born in May of (gulp) 1995.