Cubs’ Minor League All-Star Team Part One: Pitchers

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It is time for the first installment of our Chicago Cubs’ minor league All-Star team.  Today, we reveal the pitchers, two starters and two relievers who made our squad.  In subsequent installments, we will give All-Star bids to two or more position players until we have fielded a full squad.  So let’s get to work revealing our award-winning pitchers.
Starting Pitchers:
Pierce Johnson:  Right-hander Johnson, a compensatory first-round selection in the 2012 draft, had a stellar 2013.  He split the campaign between A Kane County and Advanced A Daytona, where he helped lead the latter club to a 75-51 regular season record and postseason berth, where it has advanced to the Florida State League Championship series against Charlotte after dispatching Dunedin 2-0 in the first round.  Johnson’s arsenal includes a 91-96 MPH fastball, cutter, power curve and improving changeup.  He is exceptional at pitching with runners on base.
In thirteen starts for Kane County, Johnson, 22, pitched 69.2 innings, yielding 68 hits and 22 walks, leading to a WHIP of 1.298.  He fanned 74 and produced an ERA of 3.10.  For Daytona, he made ten appearances, including eight starts, covering 48.2 innings, and allowed 41 hits and 21 walks, leading to a reduced WHIP of 1.274.  He fanned 50 and lowered his ERA to 2.22.
Combined, he achieved an 11-6 record, a 2.74 ERA and a 1.285 WHIP covering 118.1 innings.  He yielded 109 hits and 43 walks and fanned 124.  His H/9 and BB/9 innings of 8.3 and 3.3, respectively, were a tad high, but his 9.4 SO/9 and 0.4 HR/9 enabled him to pitch effectively with runners on base.  He also sported an impressive SO/BB ratio of 2.88.
pierce
Update:  In Daytona’s Game One victory last evening against Charlotte in the Florida State League Championship Series, Johnson was the winning pitcher, tossing five shutout innings, yielding six hits and no walks and striking out six.
Kyle Hendricks:  Right-hander Hendricks was acquired in July 2012 from the Texas Rangers for Ryan Dempster.  Hendricks split the season between AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa.  He is a cerebral pitcher with a full arsenal that includes two and four seam fastballs, a curveball and changeup.  His fastball has been clocked as high as 94 MPH but generally sits in the high 80’s and low 90’s.  His effectiveness, though, can be traced to his ability to repeat the same delivery on each of his pitches.  In 21 starts covering 126.1 innings for Tennessee, he compiled a 10-3 record with an ERA of 1.85.  He allowed 107 hits and only 26 walks, leading to a WHIP of 1.053.  Hendricks was an integral part of a Tennessee squad that qualified for the postseason with a 76-62 record and opened last evening with a first-round Southern League series against Birmingham.
In six starts covering forty innings for Iowa, he allowed 35 hits and only eight walks, leading to a WHIP of 1.075.  He struck out 27 and fasioned an ERA of 2.48.  Combined between the two levels, he produced a record of 13-4 in 27 starts covering 166.1 innings.  He allowed 142 hits and 34 walks while fanning 112.  His WHIP was an exceptional 1.058.  He also generated a H/9 of 7.7; HR/9 of 0.3; BB/9 of 1.8; SO/9 of 6.9; and SO/BB ratio of 3.76.  Kyle Hendricks was the best starting pitcher in the Cubs’ system from start to finish this season.
Our  runners up are Ben Wells and C.J. Edwards.  Right-hander Wells, 20, made 21 starts in 23 games for Daytona and produced a 9-6 record and 3.28 ERA.  In 112.1 innings, he allowed 96 hits and 40 walks, resulting in a WHIP of 1.211.  He struck out 69.  Right-hander Edwards, 22, acquired from the Texas Rangers in the mid-summer Matt Garza deal, is considered by scouts to have Cy-Young potential and might have the best arm in the Cubs’ system.  In 24 starts between A Hickory of the Rangers’ organization and Daytona, Edwards compiled an 8-2 record covering 116.1 innings with an ERA of 1.86.  He allowed only 76 hits and 41 walks, leading to WHIP of 1.006.  He fanned 155 and produced a SO/BB ratio of 3.78.  Edwards was left off our roster because only six of his 24 starts came in the Cubs’ organization.
Significantly, in Daytona’s victory Wednesday eliminating Dunedin in their first round playoff series, Edwards earned the win with five no-hit innings, walking one and fanning eight.
Relief Pitchers:   
Zach Rosscup: In the event our starters encounter trouble, we need reliable relief pitchers to hold their leads or douse their flames.  Left-hander Rosscup, 25 and recently promoted to the Cubs, has been brilliant at doing just that all season.  He was acquired by former Cubs’ general manager Jim Hendry along with Matt Garza from the Tamp Bay Rays prior to the 2011 season.  In his third season in the Cubs’ system, Rosscup combined between Tennessee and Iowa to pitch 51 innings.  He yielded 36 hits and 25 walks, leading to a WHIP of 1.196, and fanned 83, almost 40% of the batters he faced.  He allowed only 6.4 H/9 and 0.4 HR/9 and produced an exceptional 14.6 SO/9; a 3.32 SO/BB ratio; and an ERA of 2.12.  Rosscup’s BB/9 innings of 4.4 is too high and an issue he will have to address in order to succeed in the major leagues.  However, he has a tremendous curveball, a 90-92 MPH fastball and a deceptive delivery that generates lots of swings and misses.
Hunter Cervenka:  The big left-hander was acquired in the April 2012 trade that sent outfielder Marlon Byrd to the Boston Red Sox.  He combines a mid 90’s fastball and a hard slider but is susceptible to control problems.  In 41 games covering 60 innings between Daytona and Tennessee this season, Cervenka allowed 42 hits and 35 walks, leading to a WHIP of 1.283.  He compiled a 6-1 record and an ERA of 3.00.  While his 6.3 H/9 innings and 8.3 SO/9 were both solid, Cervenka will have to reduce his 5.2 BB/9 in order to maximize his potential.
Runner up recognition goes to Jasvir Rakkar, Corbin Hoffner anf Frank Batista.  Right-handers Rakkar, 22, and Hoffner, 20 were 26th and 14th round selections in the 2012 draft, respectively, who helped lead the Boise Hawks to a 41-35 regular season record and a 2-0 first-round Northwest League playoff series victory against Salem-Keizer.  In 20 games covering 37.2 innings, Rakkar allowed 31 hits and ten walks and struck out 41.   He produced an ERA of 3.58 and WHIP of 1.088.  Hoffner appeared in sixteen games covering 46.1 innings and fashioned an exceptional ERA of 1.74.  He allowed 29 hits and thirteen walks and fanned 42, leading to a WHIP of 0.900.  Right-hander Batista, 24, earned 19 saves in 48 games covering 62.1 innings for Tennessee and allowed 55 hits and 28 walks for a WHIP of 1.332.
Check back tomorrow as we reveal our All-Star catcher, first-baseman and second-baseman and also those who merit honorable mention at those positions.
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