The last regular season games on the minor league calendar were played on September 3rd and at this point all the various leagues have crowned their playoff champions. Only the Triple-A championship remains on the schedule and our daily Standout Sprouts has all but slipped into full hibernation until next spring when the 2013 MiLB season gets underway. But before we close the books completely, I thought it appropriate to hand out some final accolades and highlight the best hitting and pitching days of each month of the season as well as select the best single day performances from a hitter and pitcher for the season as a whole.
Today we’re revealing my selections for the best single day hitting and pitching performances for the month of August and the bit of the regular season that spilled into the beginning of September.
Best Hitting Performance of the Month:
TOR – Ricardo Nanita, Las Vegas (Toronto): 4-5, 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R [8/18]
Nanita, a 14th round pick of the White Sox back in 2003, is now 31-years old and he’s never played in the majors, but he does have a career 0.299/.368/.430 slash line in ten minor league seasons. He hit 0.363/.416/.554 in 51 Triple-A games last season and finished fifth in the PCL in batting average (among qualifiers with a minimum of 143 at bats).
This year he hit 0.306/.353/.465 in 366 plate appearances and while he traditionally hasn’t hit for much power, he went on a bit of a tear to close out 2012. In addition to the double and three home runs he racked up on August 18th, he came up with another four 2B and eight HR during the month of August. Those are robust numbers for the month considering he had hit just three home runs total in the first four months of the year. Nanita’s 12 long balls this season also represent a career high.
Best Pitching Performance of the Month:
HOU – Chris Devenski, Lexington (A): 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 16 SO [9/1]
Devenski (21) was the White Sox 25th Round pick in the 2011 draft and made his way to Houston on August 3rd as the PTBNL in the Brett Myers trade. Featuring a low-90s fastball as well as slider and changeup that were termed as “serviceable” by Baseball America prior to the draft, the Cal State Fullerton product was fairly impressive in limited action after signing last season. Pitching out of the bullpen for Great Falls in the Pioneer League he wound up with a 2.25 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 9-1 SO-to-BB in 8.0 innings of work.
The White Sox assigned him to Kannapolis to open 2012 and pitching in both roles – 8 starts, 11 relief appearances – he had a 4.23 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 54-19 SO-to-BB in 61.2 innings pitched prior to being dealt. Once he joined the Astros organization he pitched exclusively out of the rotation making five starts for Lexington. In each of his first four starts he went 5.0 innings with varying results but in those 20.0 innings combined he gave up 23 H, 10 ER and 15 BB with 22 SO. Against that backdrop, his start on September 1st definitely came out of nowhere.
Not only did he go the distance which was a surprise in itself, he allowed just one baserunner – a 5th inning walk to Kyle Kubitza – after walking at least two batters in each of his four previous starts and six against Charleston on August 26th. While it would be foolish to predict anyone would rack up 16 Ks in a single outing, striking batters out was at least the one thing that Devenski was doing on a consistent basis in his time with Lexington.
Devenski was simply too much for the Rome Braves. Not much contact was made by their bats overall, and what contact they did manage was far from solid. Of the 27 outs recorded, 16 were obviously strike outs but another eight were ground outs. That leaves just three outs unaccounted for and those were; line drive caught by RF Jordan Kreke in the 1st, a fly ball to center in the 6th and a foul ball pop fly caught by 3B Matt Duffy in the 7th.
It’s difficult to consider Chris Devenski as anything more than a fringe prospect at this point, and it’s hard to believe he will ever have a better start over the duration of the rest of his professional career, but he certainly ended his season by making a statement.
Honorable Mentions at the Plate:
BAL – Ronnie Welty, Bowie (AA): 3-4, 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 R [8/23]
DET – John Lindsey, Toledo (AAA): 5-7, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB [8/6]
LAA – C.J. Cron, Inland Empire (LA Angels): 4-6, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R [8/20]
OAK – Conner Crumbliss, Midland (AA): 3-4, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R, BB [8/16]
SEA – Leon Landry, High Desert (A+): 4-5, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, SB [8/3]
Honorable Mentions on the Mound:
HOU – RHP Daniel Minor, Greeneville (Rk): 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO [8/10]
KC – RHP Kyle Smith, Kane County (A): 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 SO [8/7]
PHI – LHP Jesse Biddle, Clearwater (A+): 7.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO [8/18]
SF – LHP Michael Kickham, Richmond (AA): 8.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER , 1 BB, 12 SO [8/2]
STL – RHP Chris Corrigan, Palm Beach (A+): 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO [8/29]