Time to honor the best in minor league pitching for the month of July! The rules for the pitchers are the same as the rules for hitters: One nominee from each of the top five teams and you vote for the one who had the best month. By the way, you still have time to vote for the best hitter until tonight’s Minor League Wrap posts.
Speaking of this, you’ll have an extra day to vote on the pitchers because Al will be doing Thursday night’s Minor League Wrap (Friday morning) because I’ll be on the road. So the winner of this vote will be announced on Friday.
There were a lot more good candidates for the Pitcher of the Month award in July than the hitters award. I think I got the best five, but if you want to put a write-in vote in the comments, be my guest. Your vote won’t count, but it will add to the discussion. You can still vote in the poll if you want, naturally.
With that said, the nominees are:
Tseng wasn’t even promoted to Iowa until July 4, but he was named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week after only his second and third starts in Triple-A.
Tseng had one start this month in Tennessee which doesn’t look good if you just look at the runs he allowed: four runs on six hits over 6⅔ innings. But that hides how dominant he was until he allowed a two-run double to the final batter he faced. Tseng struck out 10 batters in that game and walked only one.
Tseng went on to make four starts in Iowa, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.42 ERA. In the 25⅓ innings that he threw in the PCL, he struck out 23 and walked just six. Tseng held opposing hitters to a .202 batting average. The only real negative was the three home runs Tseng allowed in those four starts. However, they were all solo shots because he did such a good job of keeping the bases clear.
Tennessee Smokies right-hander Craig Brooks:
After being promoted to Tennessee on May 16, Brooks struggled in his first month and a half in Double-A. But he was darn near perfect in ten relief appearances July. He pitched 13⅓ innings and did not allow a run, earned or otherwise. He allowed just four hits and issued just three walks. (Two HBP) Opposing batters hit just .091 off of Brooks. Meanwhile, Brooks struck out 25 batters in those 13⅓ innings. He also recorded one save in July. Brooks has not allowed a run since June 13. Brooks was also named the BC Powder Southern League Relief Pitcher of the Month.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans right-hander Dakota Mekkes:
Mekkes is another reliever who has been close to perfect in July. Mekkes has not allowed a run since his promotion to Myrtle Beach on June 10. Before last night’s loss, he hadn’t allowed a run anywhere since May 31 and he hadn’t allowed an earned run since May 10. But last night’s game counts against August, not July.
Mekkes made eight appearances in July and recorded one win and three saves. He pitched 14⅓ innings and struck out 20 batters and walked just four. He gave up eight hits and opposing hitters had a .160 batting average against him. Unlike Brooks, who relies on velocity, Mekkes gets strikeouts by a deceptive delivery and an unusual release point that increases the “effective velocity” of his pitches by giving the batter less time to react to a pitch of average fastball velocity.
South Bend Cubs left-hander Jose Paulino:
Paulino was a favorite “sleeper” prospect coming into the season and that’s exactly what it looked like he was doing over the first three months: sleeping. But in July, Paulino became the pitcher we always thought he could be. After pitching out of the bullpen after his poor start, Paulino moved back into the starting rotation after the trade of Dylan Cease. This time, the big left-hander did not waste the opportunity. Over five games and four starts in July, Paulino went 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA. He also did not allow any unearned runs, which I think is a sign of his increasing maturity.
Over 28⅔ innings, Paulino struck out 23 and walked eight. He held opposing batters to a .245 batting average.
Eugene Emeralds right-hander Jesus Camargo:
Camargo is part of the Cubs recent focus on Mexico, although the changeup specialist has been one of the less-heralded south-of-the-border signings. But the 21-year-old Camargo has been Eugene’s best pitcher this season, even better than his more-heralded countryman Jose Albertos.
In July, Camargo threw 24 innings over three starts and two relief appearances. Camargo went 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA over the past month. In those 24 innings, Camargo struck out 27 and walked just seven. Opposing hitters hit .167 off of him. He hasn’t allowed a home run since July 20—of 2015. (To be fair, he missed all of last season with injuries.)
Who should be the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month?
This poll is closed
Iowa Cubs Jen-Ho Tseng
Tennessee Smokies Craig Brooks
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Dakota Mekkes
South Bend Cubs Jose Paulino
Eugene Emeralds Jesus Camargo