Position Player--Jay Garthwaite
Perhaps the most impressive month of any position player in the system came out of Lancaster. Jay Garthwaite has always had the power, he's always had the clutch sense of hitting, his only drawback has been the strikeout. None of that changed in August, but when the ball hit the bat, it traveled for Garthwaite. He hit .333 on the month, with 8 homers and a whopping 36 RBI. Garthwaite was simply on fire. He had 40 hits on the month, and 20 went for extra bases, he scored 20 runs despite hitting sixth for the majority of the month, and he played four positions in the field as well as DH-ing.
Garthwaite's problem has been inconsistency and strikeouts, simple as that. He made 80 outs during the month of August, and 35 were via the strikeout, and while he hit .333 in August, it follows the up and down pattern he's fleshed out for himself this season. April: .361. May: .236. June: .329. July: .213. If Garthwaite, who turns 25 this November, wants a chance to move up, he'll have to string together several good months, and cut down on the strikeouts.
We make no bones about it, here at FutureBacks we are partial to catchers and middle relievers. We love the guys who don't get the credit, but ultimately decide the game. That's why we really wanted to give pitcher of the month to Micah Owings. Owings had a stellar month, making 10 appearances, going 1-1 and striking out 19 in 14.1 innings pitched, but ultimately the award, for the second month in a row, had to go to Matt Chico.
Well, Owings is going to be a starter anyway.
Chico on the other hand is a starter right now, and one of the top three left handed starting prospects in the system. Though he was knocked back during his time in Double-A, he's been better than advertised in Lancaster this year. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Chico has been his ability to succeed even when he hasn't had his best stuff. A prime example came in his second start of August. Without his best control Chico walked five, but still managed to come away with the victory, allowing just two earned runs in five innings pitched. It was a testament to the maturity getting beat up in Tennessee has helped instill in the youngster.
Expect Chico to start 2006 in the same place he finished '05, Lancaster. Though he was stellar in his time in Hi-A, conventional wisdom says that you start the kid where he had success, let him build his arm strength and (more importantly) his confidence, and then move him up, so as to not be put in a position where you are (once again) demoting him. He's only 22 years old, which mean you've got some time, and depending on what happens with Javier Vazquez, Dustin Nippert, and Brad Halsey, the Diamondbacks rotation looks to be set for a little while anyway, so moving him too fast carries few rewards, and you don't want to risk a left arm this talented.