The CCO’s post-season minor league awards continue today with the Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Iowa third baseman Kris Bryant was named The CCO Minor League Player of the Year last Thursday.
Although there were excellent pitching performances at all levels, we only needed to look as far as the Kane County Cougars for our list of candidates. While there were several great individual performances by the Cougars’ pitchers to consider, two pitchers stood out from the rest.
The CCO Minor League Co-Pitchers of the Year – Daury Torrez, RHP and Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP
When talk turns to pitching in the Cubs’ minor league system, the first stop is usually Kane County. The Cougars posted the best record in the minor leagues this season (91-49) and the pitching staff led the Midwest League in both ERA (2.85) and WHIP (1.17).
On a team with some very high profile pitchers, the one that was among the most dominant in the Midwest League was Daury Torrez. The 21-year old Dominican led the league with a 0.997 WHIP and tied for second with 11 wins. Torrez was also fourth in the league with a 2.74 ERA and had 81 strikeouts against 21 walks in 131.1 innings.
Signed as an international free agent in 2011, an 18-year old Torrez made 16 appearances in the Dominican Summer League. Torrez posted a 1-2 record with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP that included 25 strikeouts in 40.2 innings. Torrez returned to the DSL in 2012 and dominated. Torrez finished second in the league with a 0.82 WHIP and a 1.21 ERA that was good enough for third in the league. Torrez went 6-3 with 50 strikeouts in 74.2 innings and was named The CCO Short-Season Pitcher of the Year.
Prior to the 2013 season, Torrez was named by the CCO as one of the Five Players to Watch in the Cubs system and he did not disappoint. The Opening Day starter for the AZL Cubs of the rookie league, Torrez once again showed his ability to be around the plate as he had a 1.102 WHIP while striking out 49 batters with only five walks in 49 innings. Torrez also had an ERA of 3.31 and a 4-2 record before being promoted to Kane County for a start at the end of the season.
In an exclusive interview with the CCO, Torrez said through Cougars’ pitching coach David Rosario that the start at the end of the 2013 season helped him mentally prepare for what to expect this past season. He also stated that he proud of getting better in each of the levels that he has played at, and that he had to work on getting stronger in order to pitch deeper into ballgames.
In early July 2013, the Cubs signed international free agent Jen-Ho Tseng out of Taiwan. Just 19 years old at the start of the 2014 season, Tseng was impressive enough in the spring to bypass both the rookie and Short-Season leagues and begin his professional career with Low-A Kane County. After the first two months of the season, Tseng missed about four weeks with a sore shoulder that landed him on the disabled list. The missed time essentially took Tseng out of the running for qualifying among the league leaders, but he became one of the most feared pitchers in the Midwest League.
Tseng was even more efficient than his teammate Torrez. Tseng finished with a 0.87 WHIP with 85 strikeouts against 15 walks in 105 innings. Tseng went on to post a 6-1 record and a 2.40 ERA and was named by Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year. In an exclusive interview with the CCO, Tseng said that language was his biggest adjustment in his first season in America. Tseng also said that it was a big jump in competition for him because he was only pitching at high school level in Taiwan. Tseng also expressed that his biggest regret is that he could no longer pitch for his national team.
As usual, there were some other pitchers with noteworthy performances this past season. Interestingly, many of them were a part of the 2014 Iowa Cubs. Eric Jokisch ended up second in the Pacific Coast League with 143 strikeouts, tied for third with a 1.17 WHIP, and fifth with a 3.58 ERA while posting a 9-10 record. Teammate Dallas Beeler wound up second with a 1.16 WHIP and third with a 3.40 ERA as he went 9-6 with 83 strikeouts in 124.1 innings. Iowa’s Blake Parker led both the Pacific Coast League and the entire system with 25 saves, and had a 1.17 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP that included 52 strikeouts in 35.2 innings. Tennessee’s Corey Black was third in the Southern League with 119 strikeouts and his 3.47 ERA was ninth as he posted a 6-7 record with a 1.38 WHIP in 124.1 innings.
Thursday: The CCO’s Short-Season Player and Pitcher of the Year
- The CCO Minor League Player of the Year – Kris Bryant, 3B