Over the last two years, one of my favorite things that I like to do is to select who I think the Cubs minor-league players of the month are going to be. Some months I’m pretty close and some months I’m not. In 2015, I have only selected one player out of eight correctly. See the chart below for who the Cubs picked and I picked this year.
|April||Dan Vogelbach and Jeremy Null||Kyle Schwarber and Jeremy Null|
|May||Kyle Schwarber and Ryan Williams||Javy Baez and Duane Underwood|
|June||Mark Zagunis and Carlos Pimentel||Stephen Bruno and PJ Francescon|
|July||Jeffrey Baez and Brad Markey||Chesny Young and Pierce Johnson|
Later this week, the Cubs will select their minor league players of the month for August. A couple weeks after that, they will announce their players of the year. I will have a post next week about who I think will win those awards.
For August, a lot of the Cubs’ minor-league players had a great month. I didn’t limit this month’s All-Star team to one player per position. There are a couple of positions that have multiple players. Check out our video check to see who made this month’s Cubs minor-league All-Star Team.
Hitter of the Month
When it comes to picking the players of the month for August, I feel pretty confident in the hitter. That is none other than Javy Baez. I considered Donnie Dewees and Willson Contreras for a while, but Baez’s RBI total obliterated the other two hitters combined. For the month, Javy hit .347 with a .383 OBP with 3 HRs and 29 RBIs. He should be in Chicago on Tuesday night. He might not start that night but he is sure to play as Javy is one of Joe Maddon’s favorite players in the organization for the things he can do besides hit. Maddon raved early and often about Baez’s defense, arm, speed, and base running skills.
Pitcher of the Month
Selecting a Pitcher of the Month on the other hand was extremely difficult. Initially, I narrowed it down to six players: Oscar De La Cruz, Ryan Williams, Tommy Thorpe, Trevor Clifton, Brad Markey, and Paul Blackburn. All had great months with ERAs under 3.00. For a second I almost included Pierce Johnson who had a losing record but still had a 2.75 ERA with 30 Ks in 39.1 innings. Jake Stinnett also garnered some discussion as he had a 2.84 ERA while striking out 28 in 31.2 innings, easily his best month all year.
On Friday night (the 28th), I thought I had originally narrowed the list down to three players. I thought it might be a safe bet to let some pitchers pitch over the weekend before making a final decision. Markey (3-0) for the month pitched 24 innings, struck out 16, and had a stellar 1.84 ERA. He did not pitch over the weekend. Tommy Thorpe did not either. Thorpe, who doesn’t get much press, went 1-1 this month in 4 starts. He had a 1.88 ERA while striking out 17 in 24 innings. De La Cruz had the highest ERA (2.73) and the highest K total (32 in 29.2 innings), albeit with 13 Ks in one outing.
Paul Blackburn pitched Saturday night and his two inning outing only confused me more. For the month Blackburn ended up with a 2.11 ERA, but he only struck out 15 in 22.1 innings (despite getting 9 in 1 game).
It all came down to Trevor Clifton’s and Ryan Williams’ starts on Monday night. Going into the night, Clifton had a 3-1 monthly record with 22 Ks in 24.1 innings with a 2.59 ERA. Ryan Williams went in with a 4-0 record with a 2.43 ERA in 5 starts. He’d only struck out 17 in 29.2 innings.
If Clifton could have a decent start, he could lower his ERA, almost double the strikeouts of Markey, and have perceptibly more Ks than Williams and Thorpe, but not as high as De La Cruz, unless Trevor struck out ten. For Williams, you win 5 games in a month that would be pretty hard to beat.
Neither player made it easy for me. Williams went six innings, allowed no runs, gave up 4 hits, and struck out 2. This lowered his monthly ERA to 2.02 to go along with 5 wins. Clifton went 6, gave up 1 run, struck out 3, and gave up 3 hits. This lowered his monthly ERA to 2.37 as he struck out 24 in 30.1 innings. For Trevor, August has been a great month and I was very impressed when I saw him at Beloit.
And winning five games in a month is hard to beat………..but not to tie. The former teammates at South Bend in April will have to share the award for August. One is 23, and one is only 20. I expect good things from both of them next year as well.
I am giving the Pitcher of the Month to both Ryan Williams and Trevor Clifton. Sad thing is, the Cubs will pick only one of them later this week. Knowing my luck in picking, it will be someone else.