Yesterday was the hitters and today we look to honor the best pitching performances in the Cubs system for the month of June. It's our first month with the Eugene Emeralds, so we now have five nominees from five different teams.
The rules are the same as they've always been: this is an award for performance and not prospect status. You can vote for whomever you want on whatever criteria you want, except that it has to be for something that the player did in the month of June.
You can still vote for the Minor League Player of the Month. I'll announce the winner of the awards in Saturday's Minor League Wrap.
The nominees are:
Iowa Cubs RHP Carlos Pimentel: The Cubs signed Pimentel as a minor league free agent after the 2013 season and he's been a workhorse for the I-Cubs ever since then. He probably had his best month ever in the Cubs system in June as he made five starts and went 4-1 with a microscopic 0.95 ERA. He gave up only three earned runs in 28.1 innings, although he did have five unearned runs last month. But even if all those runs were earned, it was still a good month. Pimentel struck out 22 and walked 14. Opposing hitters only hit .192 against Pimentel for June.
Tennessee Smokies RHP Ryan Williams: Williams was an unheralded 10th round draft pick in 2014 but has been off to a terrific start in 2015. Williams started the season in South Bend and after dominating the Midwest League, got skipped over Myrtle Beach and straight to Tennessee. He's been almost as good in Double-A as he was in Low-A. For the month of June he made five starts and went 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA for the Smokies. He pitched 27.1 innings and struck out 20 batters while walking six. Opposing hitters were held to a .226 batting average.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans RHP Tyler Skulina: Skulina sometimes gets overlooked with all the strong pitching prospects the Pelicans have, but in June Skulina outshined them all. Skulina made four starts and allowed just two earned runs over 20 innings for a 0.90 ERA. He did allow three unearned runs but again, that's still an impressive total for the month. Skulina struck out 20 batters in those 20 innings although he did walk 13, so he does have to work on his control. But he only gave up nine hits all month for a .141 batting average against.
South Bend Cubs RHP Brad Markey: Markey has been a rock in the SB Cubs bullpen all year. For the month of June, Markey made eight appearances for 16.1 innings. He gave up just two runs. That's two runs total for an ERA of 0.80. He didn't allow any unearned runs either, making him even more valuable. While Markey hasn't been used as a traditional one-inning closer much, he has been used as a 1970s style "fireman," coming in the game in the seventh or eighth inning and going the rest of the way for the save. He had three saves in three opportunities in June.
Eugene Emeralds LHP Justin Steele: Steele only made two starts in June, but they both were awfully good as last year's fifth-round pick is living up to the hype. Steele threw 11 innings in June and allowed just one earned run. (Two more runs were unearned.) The most impressive thing about Steele's start is that he struck out 15 and walked only two in those 11 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .135 batting average.