Yesterday we took a look at the hitters and today we honor the pitchers. The rules for this competition are the same: I pick five pitchers, one from each affiliate and one extra, and you vote for the one you think is deserving of the Pitcher of the Month Award. You can base your vote on anything, but it has to be on something the player did in May.
If you haven’t voted for the Player of the Month, you still have a few hours to do so. The winner of the Pitcher of the Month will be announced in Wednesday’s Minor League Wrap.
The nominees are:
Frankoff is in his ninth minor league season without making the majors, but this 28-year-old is a tribute to not giving up. It’s hard to understand why he’s never gotten a major league call-up: he’s always gotten strikeouts and limited walks. He has had a problem with home runs, but he’s also pitched much of his career in the homer-happy Pacific Coast League. Other than the now-promoted Eddie Butler, Frankoff has been Iowa’s best starter all season long.
In May, Frankoff made six starts, good enough for 36⅓ innings. Over that time, he struck out 40, walked just nine and posted a 2.48 ERA. No unearned runs in May, either. His record was only 0-1, but we don’t judge pitchers on win-loss record anymore, do we? He did give up four home runs in those six starts, but two of those home runs came in starts in Salt Lake and Las Vegas.
Tennessee Smokies righthander Trevor Clifton:
I probably could have nominated three Smokies pitchers, who went 16-12 on the month and are in a three-way dogfight for first place in their division. But I gave the nomination to the ace Clifton, who is thriving pitching just a short drive from his hometown.
Clifton made five starts in May and went 1-1 with a 1.84 ERA. Clifton went 29⅓ innings in those five starts and he struck out 25 and walked only 12. He held opposing hitters to a .212 batting average. Clifton is “checking all the boxes” that the Cubs farm system likes to see and he could be holding down the back of the Cubs rotation as soon as sometime next season.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans righthander Adbert Alzolay:
This season’s breakout prospect is the only repeat candidate on this list. Not only has Alzolay added about 3 to 4 mph onto his fastball this season, he’s also become more of a pitcher as opposed to a thrower. He’s taken a huge step forward as a prospect.
In May, Alzolay made five starts for 27⅔ innings. In that time, he went 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA. No unearned runs either. Alzolay struck out 24 and walked just seven. But opposing hitters had trouble making good contact as he allowed just 14 hits for a .146 batting average against.
South Bend Cubs righthander Duncan Robinson:
“Little Dartmouth” had a terrific month of May, making three starts and two relief appearances that were really tandem starts with Bryan Hudson. In those five appearances, he threw 27 innings and allowed just three earned runs for a 1.00 ERA. (Robinson did have three unearned runs, but even if those runs were earned, he’d still have a terrific 2.00 ERA) As impressive as that was, even more impressive was that he struck out 24 batters and walked just two. He didn’t even hit a batter in May. Robinson held opposing hitters to a .181 batting average.
Robinson went 2-1 in the month, if you are concerned with that.
South Bend Cubs righthander Dakota Mekkes:
The one true reliever on this list, Mekkes made nine appearances in May and allowed just one earned run (three total) in 14⅓ innings. He was 1-0 with two saves in two chances. As good as those numbers are, the reason Mekkes made this list was his 21 strikeouts in those 14.1 innings, as opposed to six walks. That’s almost 1 1⁄2 per inning.
Mekkes doesn’t throw hard and his slider is still a work in progress. But Mekkes gets outs with a deceptive delivery that doesn’t allow hitters to pick up the ball until it’s much too late.
Who is the BCB Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month?
This poll is closed
Iowa Cubs Seth Frankoff
Tennessee Smokies Trevor Clifton
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Adbert Alzolay
South Bend Cubs Duncan Robinson
South Bend Cubs Dakota Mekkes