POSITION PLAYER OF THE WEEK: 1B A.J. Zapp, San Antonio
Zapp had a week to remember, and that’s an understatement. Hitting .322 in seven games was just the beginning. His four homeruns and nine RBI polished off a week that easily earned him the InsideThePark.com Player Of The Week honors. Zapp is a 25-year-old left-hand hitting first baseman, in his first year in the M’s organization. He is currently hitting .294 with a league-leading 17 homeruns. Zapp was originally drafted in the first-round by the Atlanta Braves in 1996 and, after six years, signed a minor league contract with the M’s last November.
Wisconsin 3B Matt Hagen belted two homeruns and hit .316. Inland Empire 3B Hunter Brown, who hit .333 for the week with four RBI and 3 doubles. Last week’s winner, Inland Empire OF Shin-Shoo Choo, followed up his InsideThePark.com Player Of The Week performance by hitting .300 with two triples, two steals, four runs, three RBI and a five-game hitting streak.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK: LHP Matt Thornton, San Antonio
Thornton recently made his return from an arm injury suffered last season, and has never pitched better than he is right now. In his two starts this week Thornton scattered five hits over 13 scoreless innings, walking five and striking out eight in wins versus Arkansas and Frisco. Thornton’s scoreless innings streak has reached 17.2 innings going back to his start on May 29th. Since his return to the mound, Thornton has given up just one earned run on eight hits in 25.1 innings. The 26-year-old left-hander was the M’s first-round pick of the 1999 first-year player’s draft.
The red-hot San Antonio Missions continue to produce many worthy candidates for both player of the week and pitcher of the week. This week is no different.
Travis Blackley’s two starts produced 16 innings of great starting pitching. The 20-year-old left-hander allowed just nine hits and three runs in those 16 innings, while walking just two and striking out 16 in two wins against Arkansas.
Rett Johnson took the hill just once during the week but made it count. In perhaps the best single pitching performance of the week, Johnson shutout Frisco on just one hit in a 3-0 victory. The 23-year-old right-hander walked three and struck out seven. Johnson gave up a fourth-inning single to Frisco Roughriders catcher Jason Dewey that ended up being Frisco’s only safety.
Both Blackley and Johnson make strong cases for this week’s InsideThePark.com Pitcher Of The Week, but it just wasn’t quite enough.
Jason resides in North Tacoma, WA, where his father is his best friend, his mother has a better fastball than he does, and his nephew is the only person better suited for stardom. Feedback is always welcome at JasonAChurchill@cs.com.