After losing the wild card berth to the West Virginia Black Bears, the State College Spikes’ season ended on Monday, Sept. 7. That ended their hopes of returning to the New York-Penn League Championships – a title they won in 2014.
One of the reasons why the Spikes didn’t make it out of the regular season was the pitching staff. There was inconsistency from the starters, though relievers like Pedro Echemendia usually did their jobs.
Among the starters, Jorge Rodriguez became a man the team could rely on when he was on the mound and as such is The Cardinal Nation State College Spikes Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2015.
Rodriguez was born in San Cristobel, Dominican Republic in 1994, so at 21 years old, he is one of the youngest on the short-season Class-A roster. The right-hander spent two years on the Dominican Summer League Cardinals team (2012 and 2013) before being promoted to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Cardinals in 2014. There he logged a 0.98 ERA and was named our 2014 GCL Cards Starter of the Year. Out of 2015 extended spring training, Rodriguez made the Spikes, skipping over Johnson City.
Appearing – and starting – in 14 games for State College, Rodriguez was awarded five wins (and four losses). That is tops among State College starters and one less victory than team leader Echemendia, already announced as TCN’s Spikes Reliever of the Year.
Rodriguez’ 3.11 ERA was 10th among league qualifying pitchers, the best by a Spikes starter this season. He yielded 30 runs, 26 earned, on 66 hits including four home runs. Rodriguez struck out 47 batsmen, while yielding an average of .243 in the 75 1/3 innings he pitched. The latter was just 2 2/3 innings off the team high.
While Rodriguez was used as a starter all summer long, his busiest month was August, when the Spikes accelerated their push for the playoff bid. He made six starts in the final full month, posting a 3.38 ERA with three wins, two losses and a no-decision. Rodriguez closed out his season on September 5 by allowing just one run in 6 2/3 innings, but did not figure in the final outcome.
To start the season, in June, Rodriguez was awarded one win and one no-decision, accumulating an ERA of 0.90. July was his roughest month, with a 4.13 ERA. He started five games, but was awarded only one win and two losses.
Rodriguez had the best results against left-handed batters. He accumulated an ERA of 2.16, allowing 10 earned runs on 40 hits, one home run and 19 walks while striking out 12 batters. His average against left-handed hitters was .284.
Against right-handed hitters, Rodriguez did not do as well. His ERA against righty hitters was 4.28, allowing 20 runs – 16 of them earned – on 26 hits, three home runs and nine walks while striking out 24. His average against right-handed hitters was .263.
Currently, Rodriguez – and six other Spikes players – are in Jupiter, Florida for St. Louis Cardinals instructional league camp and he should compete for a job with the Class-A Peoria Chiefs next season.
Rookie Carson Cross and returnee Ian McKinney made nine and eight starts, respectively, each logging ERAs of under 3.00. Neither had enough innings pitched to qualify to be ranked among the league leaders, however.
Another 2015 draftee, Jacob Evans, made 10 very strong relief appearances, but logged a 4.40 ERA in six starts.
Dailyn Martinez led the Spikes in innings pitched, but also in hits and runs allowed. He took six losses to go with four wins and a 3.30 ERA. Juan Perez was next in ERA at 3.58. In addition to leading the Spikes in strikeouts, Perez also issued the most walks and yielded the most long balls. His WHIP was a very high 1.59.
Link to master article with all 2015 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that includes our selections as the State College Spikes Relief Pitcher and Player of the Year.
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