It's time once again to vote for the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month! In case you're new to this, it works the same way as the Player of the Month. Every month I nominate one player from each of the top five Cubs minor league affiliates and you chose which one should be the Minor League Pitcher of the Month. You can vote for whichever candidate you want, but this is an award for performance, not for prospect status. Vote for whom you think had the best month. Use whatever criteria you want, but make sure it happened in July.
If you haven't voted for the Minor League Player of the Month, you still have time. It's a fairly close vote this month.
The polls for this vote will stay open until tomorrow night's Minor League Wrap is written, probably a half-hour before the final out of the last minor league game. (Not counting Arizona.) The winner will be announced there.
As with the hitters, there are lots of good candidates this month.
With that said, the candidates are:
Iowa Cubs right-hander Carlos Pimentel: Pimentel was the starting pitcher for the Pacific Coast League in the Triple-A All-Star game as the 25 year-old is having his best season since he was 19 and in Low-A in the Rangers system. Pimentel has been a workhorse for Iowa all season and July wasn't even his best month. But for the month of July, Pimentel made six starts (plus the All-Star Game) and posted a 3.55 ERA over 33 innings. He struck out 29 and walked 14 while holding opposing pitchers to a .246 average. Also important, considering that the I-Cubs make more errors than all but one other team in the PCL, Pimentel allowed only one unearned run in July.
Tennessee Smokies right-hander Pierce Johnson: Johnson has been everything the Cubs had hoped he would be since coming off the DL in early June. In July, Johnson made six starts and went 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA. He didn't allow any unearned runs either. Johnson had a total of 37 innings in July and he struck out 32 and walked 15. He held opposing hitters to a .229 average.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng: After a very successful 2014 season in Kane County, Tseng struggled in his first taste of High-A through the month of June. But he seemed to put his control issues behind him in July and that led to a very successful month. In July, Tseng made five starts and went 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA. Tseng pitched 32 innings in those five starts and he struck out 20 while walking 10. Opposing hitters only had a .191 average. And since I'm mentioning it for everyone else, Tseng also only had one unearned run all month.
South Bend Cubs right-hander Corbin Hoffner: The nod here goes to the Cubs' submarining closer, who was 4 for 5 in save opportunities this past month. Hoffner just converted to a submarine delivery this season, and it certainly seems to have agreed with him. Hoffner pitched 10.1 innings in eight appearances and allowed just one run. Even that came in a three-inning appearance. Hoffner walked four, struck out four and held opposing hitters to a .212 average.
Eugene Emeralds right-hander Greyfer Eregua: The 21-year-old Venezuelan struggled last season pitching for the Boise Hawks, but he's been the Emeralds best pitcher all season in his second crack at the Northwest League. Eregua has been piggybacking other starters this season, so all of his appearances have technically been in relief. But he pitched 23 innings over seven appearances in July, so you know he's not just coming in to get one out. Or even three. Over those 23 innings, Eregua struck out 28 and walked only six. He allowed just three earned runs (and no earned runs) for a 1.17 ERA. He was 0-1 with one save. Opposing hitter hit just .118 off of Eregua in July.