Pitcher of the Week: Clint Nageotte, RHP San Antonio Missions
Nageotte, 22, took the hill last Wednesday and promptly began mowing down the Arkansas Travelers as if they were but a blade of grass under his John Deere Gold Series 3000. Using a 93-95 MPH fastball and one of the minor leagues’ best sliders, Nageotte sent 24 Arkansas batters down in eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits - all singles - three walks, and 12 strikeouts in a 4-0 victory for San Antonio. Nageotte is now second in the Texas League in both wins (8) and strikeouts (87). His 2003 ERA stands at a stingy 2.89 as the 6-4 righty pick up steam as the season progresses.
Nageotte did have some serious competition, however, and you do not have to search far to find it. Fellow Missions starter Travis Blackley nearly matched Nageotte’s gem the following night. The Aussie born left-hander went seven innings and allowed just five hits, one earned run, two walks, and 10 strikeouts in a 3-1 loss to Arkansas that went ten innings. Blackley leads the league in wins with 9, and is third in strikeouts with 85.
Other notable performances for the week include Tacoma Rainiers right-hander Rett Johnson, who went six strong innings in his second start since being promoted to Triple-A. Another Missions starter deserves honorable mention this week for his two solid starts. Bobby Madritsch compiled twelve innings and allowed just nine hits, five walks, two earned runs and 13 strikeouts. The Independent League signee has filled in nicely where Rett Johnson has left off, taking over the third slot in the rotation.
An offensive player’s contribution to his team’s success is more than just homeruns, RBI, and batting average. Timing of those types of stats often ring much more vital to wins and losses. One hitter might take several pitches per at bat to allow his team to see as many pitches as they possibly can from the hurler on the hill. Another hitter might successfully hit the ball to the right side of the diamond allowing a runner to advance from second to third with less than two outs. Once on base, a player might be such a threat to steal at any moment that the pitcher is distracted of his focus on the hitter, and furthermore may tube a heater. There is also the players that can stroke a gapper and run for days and end up at third, sliding in headfirst. This type of player is in the mold of a Rickey Henderson or Ichiro Suzuki. However, to win the InsideThePark.com’s Minor League Player of the Week, many times the player must simply do more.
That leads us to our next award…
Position Player of the Week: SS/2B Jose Lopez, San Antonio Missions
Lopez had such a week that made it very difficult to award anyone else with the player of the week honors. At the plate, he went 7-17 (.412) with three doubles, four runs scored, three walks, two RBI, and two stolen bases. On the bases, to go with his two steals, Lopez stretched singles into doubles with his super speed twice late in games to give the team a chance to tie the game. The 19-year-old phenom continues to be one of the toughest to strikeout as well, fanning just 31 times in 325 plate appearances. Lopez has turned himself into a legitimate top prospect, and ranks as one of baseball’s best minor league shortstops. On the season Lopez is hitting .269 with five homeruns, 39 RBI, and 12 steals and could possibly see a cup of coffee at the Triple-A level late in the summer.
There were several others who had fantastic weeks as well. Weekly candidate Greg Jacobs of Inland Empire had another great seven-day span, going 7-14 (.500) in four games, including a 3-4 performance that yielded three doubles. Wisconsin 1B/OF Jon Nelson had six hits in seven games but four were for extra bases, and three of those were round-trippers. He also drove in six and scored five runs. Nelson now has eight homers for the year. OF Shin-Soo Choo had another fine week, going 7-17 (.412), with a homer, five RBI, and three runs scored in four games for Inland Empire. Choo was 4-5 on Friday, his 19th multi-hit game of the year. Wisconsin 3B Hunter Brown is also putting together a nice run of late and has a 5-14 (.357) week to prove it. The 2002 draftee added three RBI and five runs scored. This week’s runner up was Everett Aqua Sox OF Joshua Womack. Womack is smacking the rock all over the yard as evidenced by his week in which he hit .467 (7-15) with five RBI, two runs scored, a double, and two triples. Womack’s hot-streak was slowed only by two days off this week.
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.