It’s time to vote for the BCB Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year! The rules are the same as they were for the Pitcher of the Month and Player of the Year awards: I nominate one player from each team and you vote for the one who had the best season on the field. You don’t vote for the best prospect, but anyone who can make it through an entire year with a good season has to have at least a shot at a major league future.
I also have some leeway here as players who have terrific seasons have a tendency to get promoted. So I got to decide which team a player belonged to in order to get the best field.
And no, Dylan Cease is not eligible. You have to still have rookie eligibility and actually still be in the Cubs organization to be considered.
Clicking on the player’s name will take you to their milb.com page.
Note: if you’re reading this on Apple News or Google AMP, you won’t see the poll. You’ll have to vote on a browser.
I’ll announce the winner in tomorrow night’s playoff wrap.
The nominees are:
Iowa Cubs right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng: Tseng actually won the inaugural “official” Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year award in 2014 and he’s a strong candidate to win the award again this year.
Tseng started the season repeating Double-A Tennessee, where he made 15 starts and went 7-3 with a 2.99 ERA. He struck out 83 and walked 24 in 90.1 innings. That got him promoted to Triple-A Iowa for the first time in his career and he was even better in the hitter-happy PCL. In his nine Triple-A starts, Tseng was 6-1 with a 1.80 ERA.
Combining the two levels, the 22-year-old Taiwanese Tseng was 13-4 with a 2.54 ERA. Tseng pitched 145.1 innings and struck out 122 and walked just 38. He held opposing hitters to a .233 average. The changeup specialist Tseng doesn’t get a ton of swings and misses, but he does survive on location, keeping the ball down and not walking people.
Tennessee Smokies right-hander Dillon Maples: Maples has pitched for four teams in the Cubs system this year: Myrtle Beach, Tennessee, Iowa and Chicago. You should know the story of Maples by now. He was a big over slot signing in the 2011 draft and struggled with control, injuries and confidence since then. He almost retired last season and was almost released in Spring Training.
As you have probably seen, Maples throws hard, sitting regularly in the upper-90s and can touch 100 on occasion. He also has that slider/cutter thing that he naturally calls a “slider-thingy” that comes in at 88-89 mph.
Maples pitched in 21 games in Myrtle Beach, 14 in Tennessee and 17 in Iowa. (Two in Chicago as I write this) In those three levels, Maples went 6-3 with a 2.27 ERA. He was 13 out of 15 in save opportunities. Maples struck out an amazing 100 batters in 63.1 innings and held opposing hitters to a .192 average. Control is his big issue as he walked 37 batters and hit six in those 63.1 innings.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans right-hander Albert Alzolay: Alzolay was a little-noticed pitcher in the Cubs system last year after showing nothing special in the Midwest League. But he worked hard over the offseason and added a few miles per hour onto his fastball. It now sits 95-96 mph with a sharp, late bite to it. His curve and change are also improved.
But perhaps the thing he did the most over the winter was to work on the mental side of the game. In the past, it was too easy for a team to knock Alzolay off his game. He let one bad pitch affect the next. He struggled to concentrate with runners on base. Working with mental skills coach Darnell McDonald, Alzolay has learned to pitch in the moment. He’s also speeded up his delivery to help in that area.
Alzolay made 15 starts in Myrtle Beach and went 7-1 with a 2.98 ERA. Alzolay then made seven starts in Tennessee and while he was 0-3, he did put up a 3.03 ERA. Between the two levels, Alzolay pitched 114.1 innings and struck out 108 and walked 34. He held opposing hitters to a .220 average and posted a combined ERA of 2.99. He also allowed only three unearned runs all season, which is a sign at how far he’s come in not letting the last at-bat affect the next one and pitching with runners on base.
South Bend Cubs right-hander Dakota Mekkes: Mekkes is a big (6’7”) pitcher who relies more on deception than power. Taken in the 10th round last year out of Michigan State, Mekkes dominated the Midwest League to start the season, throwing 31 innings in 18 relief appearances and posting a 0.58 ERA with a 3-0 record and four saves in four attempts. He struck out 47 and walked 14 in those 31 innings.
That got him promoted to High-A Myrtle Beach on June 10 and he didn’t give up a run in his first 14 appearances. Mekkes wasn’t quite so perfect in August as he seemed to wear down at the end of his first full season in pro ball. Still, he finished with a 5-2 record with 3 saves and a 1.28 ERA in 42.1 innings over 24 appearances. He struck out 45 and walked 20.
The combined line between low-A and High-A for Mekkes was 8-2 with a 0.98 ERA. He struck out 92 and walked 34 in 73.1 innings. He was 7 for 7 in save attempts. Opposing hitters hit just .155 off Mekkes and he allowed just one home run all season.
Eugene Emeralds right-hander Jesus Camargo: Although Jose Albertos got all the buzz at the start of the Ems season, his fellow Mexican Camargo out-pitched everyone on Emeralds this season. The changeup specialist doesn’t throw hard, but changes speeds and lets his change and curve make his fastball look faster.
In 2017, Camargo made eight starts and six relief appearances for Eugene this season, totalling 60.1 innings. In that time he went 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA. He struck out 73 and walked 22 in that time. Opposing hitter managed a mere .185 average off of him and he didn’t allow a home run all season.
Who is the BCB Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year?
This poll is closed
Iowa Cubs Jen-Ho Tseng
Tennessee Smokies Dillon Maples
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Adbert Alzolay
South Bend Cubs Dakota Mekkes
Eugene Emeralds Jesus Camargo