Monday, you had the chance to vote for the Bleed Cubbie Blue Minor League Player of the Month, and today it's the pitchers' turn. The rules for the pitchers are the same as those for the hitters. Every month I pick five candidates, one from each team and one "wild card" until Eugene starts playing in June. You can vote for whichever one you think deserves the honor, but remember this award is designed to reward production, not prospect status. Vote for the player with the best month, not the guy who you think will be playing in the majors in 2018.
I'll announce the winner of the Player of the Month Award in tonight's Minor League Wrap and the winner of the Pitcher of the Month in tomorrow's Wrap.
With that said, the candidates are:
Iowa Cubs right-hander Spencer Patton: The Cubs traded second base prospect Frandy de la Rosa to the Rangers for Patton this past winter after Patton pitched parts of the last two seasons in the majors. So far, he's been lights-out as the closer for the I-Cubs this year with three saves in three attempts. Patton has thrown nine innings in nine appearances and has yet to allow a run. He's also struck out an insane 16 batters and walked only three. There's a good chance that Patton will be the first reliever to get the call if there is an injury in the Cubs bullpen.
Tennessee Smokies right-hander Paul Blackburn: Blackburn, a first-round compensation pick in 2012, has moved up the Cubs system one level at a time since then. He's off to a great start to his first year in Double-A. He made five starts for the Smokies and went 3-0 with a 0.29 ERA. He allowed one run in his first start and two unearned runs on his fourth. Other than that, he's kept the opposition off the board over 31 innings. Blackburn is a guy that keeps the ball down and he doesn't strike out a lot of batters, as he only has 15 strikeouts in those 31 innings. But he also doesn't walk anyone either, issuing just five free passes in his five starts. Fun fact: the Cubs drafted Blackburn with the compensation pick they got for losing Carlos Pena.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans right-hander Jake Stinnett: A lot was expected out of Stinnett when the Cubs drafted him in the second round in 2014 out of Maryland. But despite his advanced age because he signed as a senior, Stinnett never got out of South Bend last season because he wasn't very good. But it looks like Stinnett has put his bad 2015 behind him because he's off to a great start in 2016. Although he only made three starts in April, Stinnett went 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA for the month. Over 17.2 innings, Stinnett held opposing hitters to a .164 batting average and he struck out 14 while walking only four. And while it doesn't count for the purposes of this, he's had one good start in May already.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans right-hander Zach Hedges: Hedges made four starts for the Pelicans in April and he went 2-2 with a 2.16 ERA. Hedges went at least six innings in three of those starts and in the 25 innings he pitched, Hedges struck out 17 and walked eight. He's also keeping the ball on the ground, which kept opposing hitters to a .225 batting average and Hedges hasn't allowed a home run since last July.
South Bend Cubs right-hander Adbert Alzolay: The 21-year-old Venezuelan also made four starts in the month of April and he had a 2-0 record with a 2.82 ERA. He held opposing hitters to a .177 batting average. He was best in his final two starts, allowing just one earned run (two total) over 11 innings. Alzolay had a nice K/BB ratio with 16 strikeouts to five walks.