It's time to honor the best in pitching in the Cubs minor league system in the month of July. Yesterday was your chance to weigh in on the hitters, and you still have a few hours to vote in that poll if you haven't done so yet.
The rules for the pitchers are the same as the rules for the hitters. I pick five candidates, one from each team, and you vote for the player you think had the best month. You can vote for whomever you want, but this is an award designed to reward performance and not prospect status. Base your vote on what the player did in July of 2016 and not what you think they might do in July of 2019.
The winners, as always, will be announced in tomorrow night's minor league wrap. Clicking on the pitcher's name will take you to their mlib.com page.
With that, the candidates are:
Iowa Cubs right-hander Armando Rivero: It wasn't a great month for pitching in Iowa. They had an all-star break and some relievers having good seasons in the minors bounced back and forth between Des Moines and Chicago. (I'm looking at you, Spencer Patton.) The starting pitchers all had at least one bad start that ruined their numbers. But Rivero spent the whole month in the I-Cubs bullpen and he hasn't allowed an earned run since June 11. In the month of July, Rivero pitched 10.2 innings in nine appearances. Not only did he not allow an earned run (he did give up three unearned runs), Rivero struck out 21 batters in those 10.2 innings. He gave up just seven hits, although he did walk six.
Tennessee Smokies right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng: Tseng has been a much better pitcher this season since missing most of May with an injury. In July, Tseng made five starts and went 1-1 with a 3.41 ERA over 29 innings. Tseng goes for the ground ball more than the strikeout, so he only struck out 16 while walking seven. But he did induce four double plays (and got two more on a start on August 1). One downside is that Tseng did give up three home runs in the month.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans right-hander Ryan McNeil: The Pelicans closer is the Carolina League saves leader with 17 on the season, eight of which came in his nine chances in the month of July. McNeil made 11 appearances in July and he gave up just two earned runs (and one unearned one) over 11.2 innings, giving him a 1.59 ERA for the month. The most impressive number out of this third-round pick from 2012 is that he struck out 16 batters and walked only one.
South Bend Cubs (and Pelicans) right-hander Preston Morrison: Morrison made three starts for South Bend in July and posted a 1-1 record with a 0.49 ERA. Morrison pitched 18.1 innings over those three starts and allowed just one earned run and two unearned runs. He struck out a fantastic 21 batters and walked just two. That performance got him promoted to Myrtle Beach, where he made one start in which he pitched six scoreless innings, striking out six and walking one. So combined, that's one earned and two unearned runs over 24.1 innings in July.
Eugene Emeralds (and South Bend Cubs) left-hander Jose Paulino: Paulino started 2016 repeating Eugene, but got promoted to South Bend after absolutely dominating the Northwest League in July. Paulino made four starts for the Ems and won all four, going 4-0 with a 0.72 ERA. He pitched 25 innings in those four starts and struck out 27 and walked just two. He didn't give up a home run all year in Eugene. I hate to mention that because he then got promoted to South Bend and gave up a two-run home run in his one July start in South Bend. However, his overall line in that start wasn't bad, giving up three runs over five innings in a no-decision. He threw seven scoreless innings in his second start for South Bend, but sadly for this poll, that start came in August.