Yesterday you got to weigh in on the position players and today it's time to cast your ballots for the best pitcher in the Cubs system for August. As always, I nominate one player from each of the five minor league affiliates and you vote for the one you think had the best month. You can use any reasoning you want, but you should base it just on what the pitcher did in August.
I apologize for how late this piece is coming out today, but scheduling articles when there is a day game after a night game is always tricky. Because of that, I will keep the voting open until Sunday, when I will announce the winner in the Sunday Minor League Wrap.
Sometime next week, you'll get a chance to vote for the Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year.
With all that said, the nominees are:
Iowa Cubs right-hander Jake Buchanan: Buchanan got a call up to the majors on September 1 and a lot of that had to do with how well he pitched in August. Buchanan had for starts and one relief appearance (coming on after the rehabbing Trevor Cahill pitched the first two innings on August 10) and went 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA. He pitched 30 innings and allowed nine runs and two unearned runs. Buchanan only struck out 18 batters, but he also only walked six and had a terrific ground out/air out ratio of 2.35. Additionally, after giving up six home runs in the first half of the season, Buchanan hasn't allowed a home run since June 10.
Tennessee Smokies right-hander Zach Hedges: Hedges has been terrific since getting promoted from Myrtle Beach on July 24. In the five starts Hedges made in August, he went 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA. Over 29.1 innings, Hedges allowed just five earned runs and two unearned ones. Hedges also only walked six but he struck out 22. His best start was on August 9, when he held Montgomery scoreless through seven innings, giving up just four hits.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans right-hander Trevor Clifton: There was a lot of great performances to choose from in Myrtle Beach as the team went 22-5 over the month. You can imagine there was a lot of good pitching. But the nod here goes to Clifton, who made five starts and went 2-0 with a 0.85 ERA for the month. In 31.2 innings, Clifton only surrendered three earned runs and one unearned one. Clifton struck out 34, better than one an inning, and walked just five. He held opposing hitters to a .168 batting average.
South Bend Cubs left-hander Ryan Kellogg: Kellogg has been a mainstay of the South Bend rotation all season. His best month was probably June, but he came close to equalling that in August, going 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in four starts and one relief appearance. Kellogg pitched 23.1 innings and allowed just five runs, all earned. As you know if you've been reading me for a while, I take into account the ability to prevent unearned runs in a pitcher's evaluation. They all count the same on the scoreboard. Kellogg struck out 18, walked five and held the opposition to a .185 batting average.
Eugene Emeralds left-hander Manuel Rondon: Eugene has the same problem as Myrtle Beach as they also went 22-5 over the month of August, so you know lots of pitchers had a strong month on the mound. (In fact, they went 21-1 when they weren't playing Everett, who took 4 out of 5 from them mid-month.) But Rondon stood out from the crowd. In five starts in August, Rondon pitched 24.2 innings. He allowed one run. That's one run total earned and unearned, giving him an ERA of 0.36. Rondon hasn't given up a home run since June 26. Rondon struck out 23 batters in the month and walked 11 while holding opposing hitters to a .218 batting average.
(Although it's irrelevant to the voting, the Cubs got Rondon in trade from the Angels last season for Rafael Lopez, who has been released twice since then, although he is back in the majors with the Reds at the moment.)