Yesterday you had a chance to vote for the best position players in the Cubs minor league season for the month of June and today we get to honor the kings of the hill, or the pitchers who take the ball on the mound.
Again, another quick apology for this being late. But what’s important is to recognize excellence in the system, no matter when we do it.
Here’s how it works. I pick one player from each of the four Cubs minor league affiliates. You vote for which one had the best month, in your opinion. You can use whatever criteria you want, but I want you to vote on how good a month the player had, not on how good a prospect they are. So please vote based on what the player did in the month of June.
There are just four candidates this month, but I do reserve the right to pick a fifth in other months if I have trouble deciding between two candidates.
I’ll announce the winner of today’s vote in tomorrow night’s Minor League Wrap. The winner of the Player of the Month will be announced in tonight’s Wrap, so you still have some time to vote if you haven’t yet.
If you click the name of the player, it will take you to their baseball-reference page. The MiLB pages are a mess right now.
If you are reading on Apple News or Google AMP, you will need to open a browser to vote.
Iowa Cubs RHP Ben Leeper
The Cubs signed Leeper as an undrafted senior free agent out of Oklahoma State last summer. He probably would have been drafted in a normal year with a draft that went longer than five rounds, but not very highly. He’s already had one Tommy John surgery and while he had great pure stuff after returning from the injury, he struggled with control. But with a fastball in the 96 to 98 mph range and a wicked slider, there was always potential.
Leeper, 24, started the season in Double-A Tennessee and was promoted to Iowa on June 8. Since that time, he’s pitched 11.1 innings and has yet to allow a hit in Triple-A. He did give up one run after walking and hitting a batter one inning, followed by a stolen base and an RBI ground out. But no hits.
Leeper did allow some hits in his two appearances for the Smokies early in the month, so his final line between the two levels for June was 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA and one save over 13.2 innings. Leeper held opposing hitters to a .089 batting average. He struck out 26 batters in June and walked just five.
I don’t want this to influence your vote, but the Cubs did name Leeper the Minor League Pitcher of the Month in their “official” tally.
Tennessee Smokies RHP Javier Assad
Assad has been both the ace and the workhorse of the Smokies rotation in 2021. Assad made five starts in June and totaled 24⅓ innings. He pitched six innings twice in those five starts.
Assad, 23, finished the month with a record of 0-1 and an ERA of 3.70. He struck out 19 and walked eight in those 24⅓ innings. Assad held opposing hitters to a .258 batting average. Assad only gave up one home run all month.
South Bend Cubs RHP Derek Casey
Casey was a 9th-round pick in 2018 out of Virginia. He pitched for South Bend previously in 2019 and struggled when it was a low-A affiliate. He’s back in South Bend, now High-A, in 2021 and he’s doing far better.
Casey made five starts for South Bend in 2021 and went 2-3 with a 3,21 ERA. He went at least five innings in four of his five starts and the other one ended after 4⅔ innings. Casey pitched a total of 28 innings and struck out 36 batters and walked ten. He kept opposing hitters to a .224 batting average and a .308 OBP.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans RHP Joe Nahas
DJ Herz would have gotten this nomination had he not gotten rocked for nine runs in just three innings on June 10. If you take that start out, Herz was excellent, but there are a lot of other pitchers you can say that about as well.
In any case, Nahas pitched five games in June, one start and four relief appearances. Most of his relief appearances were multi-inning efforts. Nahas got promoted from Myrtle Beach to South Bend on June 23 and got a win with four innings of relief in the one June appearance he had in High-A.
Nahas pitched 13⅓ innings in June and went 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA. He struck out 17 batters and walked eight. Opposing hitters hit .250 off of Nahas.
Who is the BCB Minor League Pitcher of the Month for June?
This poll is closed
Iowa Cubs Ben Leeper
Tennessee Smokies Javier Assad
South Bend Cubs Derek Casey
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Joe Nahas