Yesterday we took time to honor the best position players in the Cubs minor league system in the month of April, so today it is time to honor the best pitchers.
The rules for this vote are the same as the rules for the players. I nominated five players and you vote for one. In case you don’t remember, this is an award for performance in the month of April. Vote for whomever you want, but base your vote on what the pitcher did in the month of April.
Clicking on the player’s name will take you to their milb.com page where you can examine their month in greater detail.
The winner will be announced in Wednesday’s Minor League Wrap.
In case you haven’t voted yet, there is still time to vote for the Minor League Player of the Month.
The nominees are:
Iowa Cubs right-hander Eddie Butler:
When the Cubs traded for Eddie Butler on February 1, they thought they found another guy who needed a change of scenery, much like Jake Arrieta a few years ago. So far, Butler has given every indication that line of thinking was correct.
Butler made four starts for Iowa in April and he allowed a mere four runs over 24⅔ innings. That computes out to a 1.46 ERA. He gave up 22 hits and held opposing hitters to a .239 average. Butler put the ball in play a lot as he only struck out 11, but he also only walked 8.
Butler did finish the month on the disabled list, but it was the result of a turned ankle running the bases and not any sort of arm issue.
Tennessee Smokies right-hander Zach Hedges:
Hedges has been an under-the-radar prospect since he was drafted in the 26th round in 2014. But he followed up a strong 2016 season with a strong month of April which was highlighted by a seven-inning, complete game one-hit shutout on April 25.
In April, Hedges made four starts and went 2-2 with a 2.38 ERA. In his 22⅔ innings, Hedges is an extreme groundball pitcher, so the fact that he only struck out 11 batters isn’t a big deal, but that he only walked four is kind of a big deal. Hedges held opposing hitters to a .247 average.
Tennessee Smokies right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng:
Tseng is repeating Tennessee after a somewhat disappointing 2016 season. But he’s still only 22 years old, so his strong start to April isn’t just a case of an older pitcher dominating less-experienced hitters.
In April, Tseng made four starts and went 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA. He also showed good control as he walked only four while striking out 14 in 22 innings. Opposing hitters hit .248 against him for the month. In many ways, his line is pretty similar to Hedges, except that Tseng is more of a flyball pitcher than a ground ball one.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans right-hander Adbert Alzolay:
Alzolay finished the month strong as he did not allow an earned run in the final 12 innings he threw in April. (He did allow one unearned run.)
Over Alzolay’s five starts in April, he went 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA. Like the previous candidates, not walking batters was a key to Alzolay’s success. Over 25⅓ innings, the Venezuelan struck out 21 batters and walked just six. Opposing hitters had a .253 average off of Alzolay.
South Bend Cubs right-hander Dylan Cease:
And then there’s the young man with the golden arm. The Cubs are finally taking the training wheels off of Cease and he responded with an ERA of 1.90 and a record of 0-1 over five starts.
Cease pitched 23⅔ innings in April and struck out an astonishing 37 batters. Opposing hitters only managed a .177 average off of Cease. Honestly, his stuff is just too good for Midwest League hitters to handle. On April 19 against Great Lakes, Cease tossed isx innings without allowing a hit.
But it is not all sweetness and light for Cease. While batters might not be able to beat Cease, he can beat himself. He walked 15 batters in those 23⅔ innings, which is a lot. Combined with all the strikeouts, that means Cease puts up high pitch counts early. In his five starts, he’s only gone five innings twice and only gone beyond five innings once (in that April 19 game).
Who should be the BCB Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April?
This poll is closed
Iowa Cubs RHP Eddie Butler
Tennessee Smokies RHP Zach Hedges
Tennessee Smokies RHP Jen-Ho Tseng
Myrtle Beach Pelicans RHP Adbert Alzolay
South Bend Cubs RHP Dylan Cease