Position Player Stephen Drew
At the beginning of the month we thought there might be a question. After all Miguel Montero was lighting it up long before Stephen Drew ever got to Lancaster, and with the two of them in the lineup together the potential was there for incredible stats up and down the order. But Montero would log only 37 at bats in Lancaster in July, after earning a promotion to Double-A Tennessee and despite some nice months from first baseman/third baseman Edgar Varela (.303 average, 15 runs scored), second baseman Danny Richar (.327 average, .535 slugging percentage), left fielder Alex Frazier (.674 slugging percentage thanks to a team high nine homers), and center fielder Steve Garrabrants (.370 on base percentage and 27 runs scored) the clear choice for player of the month was shortstop Stephen Drew.
Drew led the team in batting average (.393), slugging percentage (.726), and RBI (28), was third in runs scored (22), second in home runs (7), walked more than he struck out (22/18) and exactly half his 46 hits went for extra bases. It was a dominant display from a player under the media and organizational microscope, and proof positive that he was worth the almost one full year wait it took to get him signed.
Drew was promoted to the Double-A Tennessee Smokies following an injury to Jerry Gil, but he was headed there anyway, and all signs point to the fact that he'll continue to excel there. Rumors are swirling that the Diamondbacks are going to give Drew a shot at the bigs when rosters expand in September, and it's hard not to think he's earned it.
Pitcher Matt Chico
To be perfectly honest, we never saw this coming. Matt Chico had a miserable first half of the season in Double-A and it looked like the only thing he was earning was the demotion to Hi-A Lancaster, but once here he's been fantastic, and July showed why the Diamondbacks took a chance on the lefty. It's easy to forget that this is Chico's first stint at Hi-A, because last season he was so good in Lo-A South Bend that he skipped Lancaster altogether and moved straight to Double-A.
Certainly there were things that Chico needed to work on, and apparently he has figured some of them out. In July Chico was 3-0 with a Roger Clemens like 1.82 ERA in six starts. He averaged just short of seven innings a start and his control, which was his biggest problem in Tennessee, was fantastic, allowing just 10 walks and striking out 39 in July. He never allowed more than three earned in a single start in July and re-established himself as a legit left handed pitching prospect.
Chico wasn't the only lefty impressing in Lancaster, as reliever Reuben Kerbs allowed only five hits, and zero earned runs, in his 13 appearances, and Chico wasn't the only starter to come on strong, as Garrett Mock went 4-1 with 32 Ks in 38.2 innings pitched. What Chico did was keep guys off base (opponents only hit .210 against him), throw strikes and dominate when the situation called for it. It was Chico's best month in nearly a year, and gave the JetHawks a boost even as they were losing Drew and Montero.