Memphis Redbirds 2009 Starter of the Year

In a heated race, Evan MacLaine claims the title of Memphis Redbirds 2009 Starter of the Year.

When collecting the data and other facts when choosing our yearly awards, quite often, one player will step to the forefront as the choice for his team. Yes, there will always be debate. But I cannot remember a harder choice than selecting the Memphis Redbirds 2009 Starter of the Year.

The team had a terrific season, sweeping its way through the Pacific Coast League playoffs. A balanced offense and very good pitching led the Redbirds. The pitching staff led the PCL in ERA (4.05) while ranking fourth in saves (41), fourth in strikeouts (1036), and third best mark in walks allowed (453).

While the pitching staff was leading the team to the postseason, no starting pitcher really took the hold as the front-runner of the staff. Like the team as a whole, the starting rotation was balanced with multiple players contributing throughout the season.

With that in mind, I debated making this a team award. But that would have been too easy so I kept the internal debate going. With Mitchell Boggs and Blake Hawksworth playing so many innings in the big leagues and the mid-season trade of Clayton Mortensen, three pitchers left were deserving of the award.

Without further ado, I am happy to announce Evan MacLane as our Memphis Redbirds 2009 Starter of the Year. Snagged out of the Diamondbacks system in late April, the southpaw thrived after arriving in Memphis.

The native Californian finished with eight wins while posting a 3.75 ERA. In 151 innings for the Redbirds, he struck out 92 while walking only 20.

MacLane tied for team lead in wins while leading the team in innings and strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 27-year-old led the Pacific Coast League in innings while posting the league's best K/BB ratio. He ranked second in PCL in BB/9 (1.3).

Though very good during the season, he saved his best for the playoffs. In two series clinching post-season games, MacLane threw 15.1 shutout innings for the Redbirds.

MacLane made such an impression on the Cardinals front office that there could be a spring training invite in his future - if the free agent re-signs with the organization for 2010.

Honorable Mention (or 1b and 1c)

Though it was a roller coaster of a season, Adam Ottavino led the team in starts and strikeouts while holding hitters to a .261 average. The right-hander ranked fifth in the league in starts and sixth in strikeouts. His 7.44 K/9 was the 11th best mark in the PCL.

P.J. Walters tied for team lead in wins while ranking second in strikeouts. He posted the best K/9 and third best FIP in PCL. Along the way, Walters made his major league debut, making eight appearances.

Clayton Mortensen had seven wins for the Redbirds before being dealt to Oakland. A groundball machine, he posted a fantastic 1.83 groundball-to-fly ball ratio while with Memphis.

Note: To follow our entire series of Players of the Year at each level of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system, check back here at The Cardinal Nation daily. To see the roster of winners and article schedule, click here.

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