The State College Spikes won their first-ever New York-Penn League Championship in 2014, and one of the best pitching staffs in the league was a major reason why. State College posted a 2.97 team ERA, second in the 14-team circuit, and featured four different starters with sub-3.00 ERAs.
Will Anderson was, without a doubt, the Spikes’ best pitcher throughout the 2014 season. Every time the New York-Penn League all-star took the mound, State College had a chance to win.Seven of the right-hander’s 12 starts were quality starts, and two more outings would have been had he not been pulled with two outs in the sixth inning. Anderson never allowed more than three earned runs in an outing. Best of all, he topped off his successful second year with 7 1/3 innings of three-hit, shutout ball against Hudson Valley in game two of the NYPL semi-finals to help State College knot the series at 1-1. Anderson had the second-best ERA among State College’s starting pitchers at 2.43 and worked 20 more innings than any other Spikes’ starter with an ERA under 3.00. In 70 1/3 innings, Anderson gave up 72 hits and walked just 11 batters, struck out 59, and allowed just 19 earned runs on the year. The only Spikes pitchers with fewer walks worked 30 or fewer innings. Anderson was the 26th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013 and greatly improved upon his 2013 campaign, in which he posted a 4.71 ERA in 11 games in Johnson City. The Cal State Monterey Bay product does not throw particularly hard, but uses a steady diet of off-speed pitches to set up his sneaky 91-93 mph fastball. Anderson was an interesting case throughout the season because his fastball snuck up on batters the way a 96 mph offering might, but it hovers between 92 and 93 on a good day. Although the 22-year old doesn’t have a particularly flashy repertoire, he has a smooth repeatable delivery, and can throw his curveball and changeup for strikes in just about any count. Congratulations to The Cardinal Nation State College Spikes Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2014, Will Anderson.
Honorable mentionThe Pleasanton, CA native was the Spikes best pitcher in 2014, but he likely wasn’t the best starting pitching prospect to take the mound for State College this season. In my assessment, that honor belongs to collegiate journeyman, Daniel Poncedeleon. Before being selected by the Cardinals in the ninth round in June, Poncedeleon had attended four different colleges and been drafted three previous times. The 6-foot-4 righty was rather inconsistent in his first few professional starts, but settled in as the season went along and posted a 1.88 ERA in five starts in August. Poncedeleon has a solid 92-94 mph fastball, and can run it up to 95 on a good day, but does so with a max-effort delivery. Nothing about Poncedeleon’s delivery is smooth, but the wild nature of it can certainly create deception as he comes to the plate. I would not be surprised to see the Cardinals try to smooth out the wiry righty’s delivery in the coming season. If Poncedeleon’s motion can become more free and easy, I would expect to see his walks go down, and maybe even see a slight rise in velocity. Poncedeleon posted a 2.44 ERA over 44 1/3 innings, starting ten of the 12 games in which he appeared. The La Mirada, CA native walked 14 batters and struck out 52, punching out 15 batters in his last 10 innings of regular season work. Although Anderson had a better 2014 campaign, Poncedeleon may be the starter to keep an eye on from the most recent edition of the State College Spikes.
Link to master article with all 2014 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selection as the State College Spikes Player of the Year.
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