It’s not the Cy Young Award, but it’s about as good as it gets for someone who spent the entire season in the minors.
The Pacific Coast League announced their Pitcher of the Year Award went to Iowa Cubs pitcher Colin Rea. The 29-year-old Rea led the PCL in wins with 14 and in ERA with a 3.74 going into tonight’s start at Oklahoma City. The 14 wins is also tied for a franchise single-season record for Iowa. Rea is currently fourth in the league in strikeouts with 115 and opposing batting average with .253. He’s fifth in innings pitched with 142 before tonight’s game.
The award is voted on by the managers, coaches, front offices and broadcasters of the Pacific Coast League. Rea is the second Iowa pitcher to win the award after Carlos Pimentel won the same honor in 2015.
The Padres drafted Rea in the 11th round out of Indiana State in 2011. Rea was someone who got better as he got more experience and was ranked as the #7 prospect in the Padres system before the 2016 season. Rea was then traded at the 2016 deadline to Miami in a package along with Andrew Cashner and Tayron Guerrero for Jarred Cosart, Carter Capps, Josh Naylor and Luis Castillo. However, after his first start with the Marlins, Rea was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm that would need Tommy John surgery. The Marlins protested the deal, arguing that the Padres had hidden Rea’s medicals. Rea was returned to the San Diego, where he missed the rest of 2016 and the entire 2017 season recovering from surgery.
Rea returned to the Padres in 2018, but the Friars released him after the season as he struggled to find his way back. The Cubs signed him to a minor league deal this past winter. A big reason why the native of tiny Cascade, Iowa signed with the Cubs was so that he could pitch close to home in Des Moines.
As Rea is not currently on the 40-man roster, it seems highly unlikely that he will receive a major-league call-up this September. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since that one game for the Marlins in 2016. But if the Cubs bring him back, Rea could figure in the Cubs 2020 plans, especially as an emergency pitcher in Des Moines who was ready to step in for an injured starter. And of course, there is always the chance that he proves himself worthy of a bigger role than that.