Pitching wins championships. When you have a roster that featured former first-rounders Marco Gonzales and Tyrell Jenkins, league titles are expected. At the very least, you expect one of the two to take The Cardinal Nation’s Pitcher of the Year award.
However, Gonzales made just six appearances with Palm Beach, going 2-2 with a 1.93 ERA in six starts before being promoted to Double-A Springfield and ultimately the Major Leagues.
Jenkins was with the squad longer, but he did not join the active roster until after the all-star break due injury recovery. In 13 starts, he went 6-5 with a 3.28 ERA in 74 innings on the mound. The right-hander struck out 41 batters and limited opponents to a .264 batting average.
Jenkins’ numbers were solid, however, he began to slip in July. In that month, he went 2-2 with a 4.33 ERA in five starts. The Texan ended the season on a high note, going 2-2 with 2.73 ERA in 33 innings and over five August starts. His strikeout totals doubled in the final month as he struck out 27 of his 41 batters.
Jenkins’ late push made him a viable candidate alongside Florida State League All-Star Kyle Helisek. The southpaw was phenomenal during the first two months of the season. In 11 starts, Helisek went 4-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 62 2/3 innings. His numbers earned him a mid-season all-star spot, but his dominance ran out in late June and July.
In seven starts after the break, Helisek went 1-4 with a 6.03 ERA. He allowed 10 homers in 34 1/3 innings after allowing just one homer over his first 11 starts. His strikeout rate increased as he fanned 20 batters in 34 1/3, compared to 36 in 62 2/3 innings, but he allowed hitters to bat a surprising .296 against him. As a result, Helisek was returned to Peoria.
That means Nick Petree is our Palm Beach Starting Pitcher of the Year. It is his second such honor in two years, as he was our top State College starter in 2013.
The 24-year-old began this season with Low-A Peoria, going 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four starts for the Chiefs. His success in the month of April earned him TCN’s April Starting Pitcher of the Month award, and more importantly, a promotion to Palm Beach.
The ninth-rounder in the 2013 draft from Missouri State University was not slowed down by the improved competition.
With Palm Beach, Petree went 6-5 with a 2.44 ERA in 17 starts. He led the team in innings pitched (103 1/3), strikeouts (80), ERA and was second in starts. Petree posted solid numbers throughout the campaign. In seven starts before the break, he was 3-2 with a 1.96 ERA and was 3-3 with a 2.76 ERA in 10 starts afterward.
The righty gave the Cardinals an opportunity to win almost all of his starts, recording nine quality starts in 17 turns while never allowing more than four runs in any contest.
He did not have enough innings to qualify for league accolades or his ERA would have placed him third in the FSL, a circuit with some very strong pitching performances this season.
Petree received a promotion to Double-A for the final start of the season and has great aspirations for 2015.
TCN’s Starter of the Year did not lead Palm Beach to a playoff appearance, but Nick Petree helped keep the Cardinals in the hunt all season.
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 Palm Beach Cardinals Player of the Year.
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