Yesterday we tackled the hitters and today you get to weigh in on the pitchers. It's time to select the BCB Minor League Pitcher of the Month! The rules are the same as always. I pick five candidates and you vote for whomever you want on whatever criteria you want. The one rule is that your vote has to be based on what the player did in the month of May and not on their overall season or their prospect status.
And if you haven't voted for the Player of the Month yet, you still have time to get your vote in.
The winner of the Pitcher of the Month award will be announced in Wednesday night's Minor League Wrap. So get your vote in before then.
The candidates are:
Iowa Cubs RHP Donn Roach
Roach pitched 30⅓ innings for the San Diego Padres last season and the Cubs grabbed him off waivers this past November. Roach has been Iowa's most consistent starter all season long and was even better in April than he was in May. For the month of April, Roach was 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA over 34⅓ innings in six starts. (Also, only one unearned run.) He's held opposing hitters to a .228 average thanks to his 2.61 ground out/air out ratio. For Roach, always a groundball pitcher, that ratio is actually down from April. Roach keeps extra runners off base by only walking six for the month of May, compared to 18 strikeouts.
Tennessee Smokies RHP Corey Black
It was announced yesterday that Black was moving to the bullpen, but that wasn't because of his performance as a starter in May, which was very good. Black made five starts in May and posted a 3.10 ERA over 26⅔ innings. (Also only one unearned run.) The fireballing Black struck out 35 batters in that time and walked ten, holding opposing hitters to a .198 batting average. Black's move to the bullpen is not a demotion so much as it is the Cubs seeing if he could help the major league team this season.
Tennessee Smokies RHP Ivan Pineyro
Just as the Cubs picked up Black in July 2013 for Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs got Pineyro that same month from the Nationals for Scott Hairston. Coming back from an injury-filled 2014, Pineyro bounced back from a blah April with a very strong May. Pineyro made six starts in May, going 3-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 35⅔ innings. (Also only one unearned run.) Pineyro almost struck out a batter an inning with 35 strikeouts, but even better was his low total of seven walks. Opposing hitters had a .250 batting average off Pineyro in May.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans RHP Duane Underwood Jr.
On the strength of his strong start to the season, a lot of people are saying Underwood is now the top pitching prospect in the Cubs system. In 29 innings over five starts over the month of May, Underwood was 3-1 with a 1.86 ERA. (Two unearned runs. As you go down the system, errors become more common) Underwood held opposing hitters to a .198 batting average, although he did allow three home runs in the month. He struck out 18 and walked nine in May for a solid K/BB ratio, even if the K/IP ratio was just OK.
South Bend Cubs RHP Ryan Williams
They teach pitchers to throw strikes in Indiana. Last month Williams' rotation mate Jeremy Null went the month without issuing a walk and this month Williams pulled the same trick. In five starts in May, Williams pitched 34 innings and went 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA. (Williams did actually allow five unearned runs to go with the six earned ones he gave up.) He struck out 23 for a K/BB ratio of something really good. Williams held opposing hitters to a .190 average in May. Not bad for a 10th round draft pick last season who signed for a $1000 bonus.