It is the time of year when the short-season players have logged their first full month of play. A number of them are also in their full month of professional pitching. This month’s top candidates for The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month include several hurlers who weren’t in the organization 60 days ago.
However, this month’s winner was a late-round selection in the 2011 draft, taken in the 39th round from Miami of Ohio. Left-hander Tyler Melling made five July starts for Batavia and yielded just one earned run in 24 1/3 innings for a microscopic 0.37 ERA. The 23-year-old fanned 22 and issued just one free pass. New York-Penn League batters hit a collective .189 against him.
Congratulations to Melling, The Cardinal Nation July Pitcher of the Month.
Now, let’s look some other standout hurlers across the system last month, some of whom may be unfamiliar to readers.
Other July pitching notables
Batavia reliever Lee Stoppelman allowed four runs, but only two earned, in 16 relief innings last month. The 22-year-old lefty fanned 18 and walked just four while holding NYPL batters to a collective .180 average. The former Central Missouri hurler was drafted in the 24th round this June.
From the right side of the Muckdogs’ pen, former shortstop Yunier Castillo continues to improve as a pitcher. Just a year into the conversion, the 23-year-old struck out 15 and walked just three while posting a 1.80 July ERA. Castillo picked up three saves and two wins.
Johnson City’s Zach Petrick made three tandem starts and three relief appearances in July, posting a sharp 2.25 ERA in 20 innings pitched. The 23-year-old right-hander fanned 22 and walked only three. The non-drafted free agent signee in June held Appy League hitters to a collective .193 average, but served up a pair of long balls.
Silfredo Garcia continues his amazing run of high strikeouts and low walks, with 25 against two last month in 23 2/3 innings. However, the 21-year-old found the going a bit tougher after his mid-month promotion to the Appalachian League, yielding seven earned runs over his final two July outings with Johnson City.
Johnson City closer Ronnie Shaban allowed three earned runs in eight innings while picking up five saves last month, but look at the left-hander’s peripherals: 11 strikeouts against no walks and a 6:1 ground out to fly out ratio. Shaban was the Cards’ 33rd round selection this June from Virginia Tech.
Down in the Dominican Summer League, 19-year-old Luis Perdomo finished July with a big reward, a ticket to the US to join the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. Before leaving the DSL, the right-hander struck out 23 and walked just three in 24 innings of work in the month. His ERA was 3.00, raising his season mark to 2.27.
Lefty Sam Freeman isn’t in St. Louis now, but he stepped up his pitching after returning to Memphis. The 25-year-old held the opposition scoreless in his most recent 12 outings. Freeman has scattered just 12 hits, five walks and logged 13 strikeouts in 15 2/3 July innings. He gave up just two earned runs, both in his first outing after being sent down, for a 1.15 ERA.
How did last month’s winner fare?
The Cardinal Nation’s Pitcher of the Month for June, Palm Beach lefty Ryan Sherriff, logged a 3.94 ERA in five Florida State League starts during July. The 22-year-old’s first three outings were subpar, four runs allowed in each, before he righted the ship by finishing the month allowing just one earned run over his last two starts.
Previous winners: Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles about the monthly award selections by both The Cardinal Nation and the Cardinals organization.
Coming next: On Monday, our monthly Cardinals Prospect Rankings will be unveiled. The report, exclusively for subscribers, is sure to see some big changes this time around. Don’t miss it!
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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