Many times as we go through the process of selecting The Cardinal Nation’s Pitchers and Players of the Year across the St. Louis Cardinals organization, we find those who put together very solid seasons who are not necessarily top prospects.
That is not the case for our choice as Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2014.
Peoria Chiefs left-hander Rob Kaminsky not only dominated hitters like no other pitcher in the system, the recently-turned 20-year-old is also a consensus top-five prospect in the Cardinals system.
One can argue that being a first-round draft pick (in 2013) assures a high ranking on prospect lists, but that halo effect lasts only so long. In the case of Kaminsky, he is already translating that potential into production, backing it up with an impressive first full-season of professional ball in a full-season Class-A league.
Let’s start by looking at our monthly award winners throughout the regular season. The Cardinals organization announces a Pitcher of the Month as does The Cardinal Nation. The difference is that we break out relievers separately. May’s winner, bullpenner Chris Perry, is not a part of this analysis.
More so than in any of the major monthly awards, TCN disagreed with the Cardinals' pitching honorees this season. In only one of the four eligible months did we select the same winning starting pitcher. That was in June, when Kaminsky took the honors across the board after going 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA, fanning 28 and walking three in 30 1/3 innings. The New Jersey native was also the Player of the Month for the entire Midwest League.
As a refresher, here are the earlier honorees, with links to those articles.
|Starter of Month||April||May||June||July||August|
|The Cardinal Nation||Nick Petree||(none #)||Rob Kaminsky||Sam Gaviglio||Alex Reyes|
|Cardinals org*||Tim Cooney||(none #)||Rob Kaminsky||Tim Cooney||Marco Gonzales|
|* SP & RP together|
|# RP Chris Perry|
All of the others in the above table are clearly recognizable as also being top pitchers in the system. The difference is that Kaminsky was more consistently great over five months than anyone else, as his monthly ERAs ranged between 0.89 and 2.28.
Looking at TCN’s Starting Pitchers of the Year by level, we see several of the same names, including Nick Petree, Tim Cooney and Kaminsky. One could argue that Marco Gonzales could also be there except for the fact that the lefty threw at four different levels this season, including St. Louis.
Make sure you click on the links to read more about these pitchers’ accomplishments.
|DSL||GCL||Johnson City||State College|
|Starter of Year||David Oca||Jorge Rodriguez||Dailyn Martinez||Will Anderson|
|Starter of Year||Rob Kaminsky||Nick Petree||Jonathan Cornelius||Tim Cooney|
ERA and WHIP
We will start our stats-based comparisons with two of the most-commonly referenced measures, earned run average and walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP). The latter is a general surrogate for baserunners allowed.
With a 30 inning minimum, the system had 11 qualifying starters who finished the season with an ERA under 3.00.
It is interesting to note that short-season pitchers dominated the list, holding eight of the 11 spots, including five claimed by members of State College’s rotation. We have discussed many of the eight in other articles in this series, including top Dominican Summer League starter David Oca and his State College counterpart, Will Anderson.
Strikeouts per nine innings
Eight qualifying rotation members fanned at least one batter per frame, a considerable feat given the quantity of innings a starter pitches over the course of a season. Leading the way is Kaminsky’s Peoria teammate and fellow top prospect Alex Reyes.
Walks per nine innings
Eight starters across the system issued fewer than two walks per nine innings. On top is Anderson.
Strikeout to walk ratio
Nine relievers finished with a strikeout to walk ratio of 3.5-to-1 or better. Again Anderson leads the way, but it is also good to see Gonzales and Tyler Lyons among the best.
I should note that I am not including wins and losses in this report, as I feel that they are more opportunity-based than a true reflection of performance.
Putting it together
Though others struck out more batters and issued fewer walks, in terms of bottom line, ERA, Kaminsky’s 1.88 trumps all the others by a considerable margin and his WHIP was also among the very best.
Congratulations to The Cardinal Nation Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2014, Rob Kaminsky.
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Link to master article with all 2014 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. That will include our selections as the system-wide Player of the Year, coming this week.
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