The Johnson City Cardinals had a relatively stable starting staff for the majority of their Appalachian League championship season in 2016. Along with the stability, the Cardinals’ starters were talented. As I am sure most of you would agree, one of the most important qualities for a starting pitcher is to take his turn whenever it comes up. It is because of this reason - along with his overall performance - that I have selected Ian Oxnevad as The Cardinal Nation’s Johnson City Starting Pitcher of the Year.
The 19-year-old, who was the Opening Day starter for Johnson City, led the pitching staff in multiple categories during the season, including wins (5), innings pitched (72), starts (12) and strikeouts (57).
In addition to his numbers, I really liked how Oxnevad pitched when runners were on base. Being left-handed, he is better able to control the opponent’s running game and he does not let innings get away from him. In 10 of his 12 regular season starts, St. Louis’ eighth-round selection in 2015 pitched at least five innings, and in seven of the 12, he went for six or more innings.
Frederis Parra is another candidate I strongly considered for this accolade. After all, the 21-year-old led the Appalachian League in ERA (2.53). The reason why I did not go with Parra is because the right-hander actually had a losing record (3-5) and the team posted a losing record overall when he started (5-6). On the flip side, when Oxnevad took the ball, the team went 9-4.
Hicks was near the top of the Appy League in ERA before getting called up to State College. In his outings with the Spikes, one could assume that the just-turned 20-year-old right-hander would have continued to pitch that well in the Appalachian League.
Meanwhile, Vance made just four starts for Johnson City but they were extremely impressive. A non-drafted free agent signed this June, the lefty from West Virginia went 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched. One can only imagine what Vance’s numbers would have looked like after he spent an entire season in a starting role.
All in all, Johnson City’s starters did well in what proved to be the team’s fourth championship in the past seven years and no other pitcher helped more for the team to get there than Oxnevad. That is why he is my selection as The Cardinal Nation’s Johnson City Starting Pitcher of the Year.
Link to master article with all 2016 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selection as the Johnson City Cardinals Player of the Year.
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