The Cardinal Nation June Reliever of Month

Among many contenders, Blake McKnight is our choice as the St. Louis Cardinals’ top minor league relief pitcher in June.

2015 was supposed to be Blake McKnight’s redemption tour. The 24-year old right-handed pitcher was assigned to start the season with the Peoria Chiefs, the same team for which he played in 2014.

McKnight

It is never really a good sign when a minor league player begins a second full season at the same lower level minor league team, but a quick look at his 2014 stat line tells the story. With the 2014 Chiefs, McKnight went 5-10 with a 5.17 ERA over 111 innings pitched. The Evangel University product struck out just 4.5 batters per nine innings and it was clear a repeat was necessary in 2015.

Fast forward to June 2015 and McKnight is starting to get the last laugh as he is The Cardinal Nation Reliever of the Month for June. For the Cards’ Midwest League affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs, McKnight pitched 16 1/3 innings last month and did not allow a run, earned or unearned. McKnight’s 16-plus inning scoreless streak was double the next closest reliever in the system. In June, McKnight held opponents to a .218 batting average against and struck out eight batters while walking just four.

McKnight’s June success was not an anomaly as he has enjoyed good results all season long with ERA’s of 1.42 in April and 3.44 in May. Combined, he has a 1.71 ERA over 47 1/3 innings in 2015 and his strikeout rate has increased to 5.5 strikeouts per 9 innings, while his walk rate has dipped a tad.

The news got even better for the St. Louis native on July 4th as he was promoted to High-A Palm Beach, an earned, but necessary promotion for one of the Chiefs’ oldest players.

Honorable Mentions

Several other relievers also did not allow a run in June. Diego Cordero of the DSL Cardinals had the second-most scoreless innings pitched at 8 2/3. 17-year old Fabian Blanco, also of the DSL Cardinals, had the most strikeouts of any reliever with 18 over 16 innings pitched. At the upper levels, Dean Kiekhefer, Ronnie Shaban, and Kevin Herget each had a 0.96 ERA over nine plus innings. Kiekhefer pitched for Memphis and Shaban and Herget split time between Springfield and Palm Beach.

Statistical Leaders

ERA

1. Several tied at 0.00
2. Will Changarotty, DSL – 0.66
3. Dean Kiekhefer, Mem – 0.96
4. Ronnie Shaban, Sgf/PB – 0.96
5. Kevin Herget, PB/Sgf – 0.96

Strikeouts

1. Fabian Blanco, DSL – 18
2. Enrique Perez, DSL – 15
3. Robby Rowland, Peo – 14
4. Will Changarotty, DSL – 13
5. Chris Perry, PB – 12

WHIP

1. Jacob Evans, JC – 0.00
2. Josh Wirsu, JC – 0.20
3. Ryan Sherriff, Sgf – 0.32
4. Frederis Parra, GCL – 0.50
5. Anderson Gerdel, JC – 0.75

Coming Soon to The Cardinal Nation

In the next couple of days, I will be bringing you a team-by-team recap of June. The focus will include key transactions as well as team records and statistical leaders. And always be on the lookout for analysis of player movement through the Cardinals system. Each day this week has been a big player movement day and we remain the only place on the internet to have all of the Cardinals moves and the stories behind them in one spot.

Congratulations to Blake McKnight, The Cardinal Nation Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June.

Prior Winners

Listed below are The Cardinal Nation’s Starting Pitcher of the Month, Relief Pitcher of the Month and Player of the Month selections this season to date, including links to those earlier articles. The St. Louis Cardinals organizational winners are included, as well.

  Pitcher of Month Starter of Month Reliever of Month  
2015 Cards organization The Cardinal Nation The Cardinal Nation 2015
April  Alex Reyes Daniel Poncedeleon Kyle Grana April 
May Luis Perdomo Luis Perdomo Steve Sabatino May
June Arturo Reyes Trey Nielsen Blake McKnight June
July       July
Aug       Aug
         
  Player of Month      
2015 Cards organization The Cardinal Nation   2015
April  Xavier Scruggs Xavier Scruggs   April 
May Greg Garcia Ed Easley   May
June Patrick Wisdom Darren Seferina   June
July       July
Aug       Aug

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John Nagel can be reached via email at stlbabybirds@yahoo.com. Follow John on Twitter @CardinalsFarm.

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