Rookie ball is underway, which means all affiliates are in-season. That crowds the picture for the best performers of the month.
As was evident last month, for the most part, the same players are continuing their success. With the minor league all-star breaks already past (for A ball) or shortly coming and the trade deadline coming at the end of this month, more promotions are very likely.
Birmingham (51-33, 16-12 in June) won its first half division title to clinch a playoff spot. Charlotte (38-48 overall, 14-14 in June) is well off the pace in the International League South. Winston-Salem (45-37, 17-10 in June) came up just short in the first half division race after a late push. Kannapolis (33-48, 13-14 in June) also missed out on a first half playoff spot. As for the rookie teams, Great Falls is 7-6 while Bristol is struggling, as usual, at 4-7.
Hitter of the Month: Micah Johnson
Stats: .358/.424/.585, 13 RBI, 26 R, 6 2B, 6 3B, 2 HR, 11 BB, 27 K, 14/20 SB in 106 AB
Johnson has put together three fantastic months in a row and each better than the last. At 22, it was time to see what he can do at a higher level and his promotion to Winston-Salem today showed that. At this point his goal should be to start 2014 in AA to get at a solid level for his age.
Blake Tekotte (AAA): .299/.389/.536 with 3 HR, 14 BB and 18 K in 97 AB
Andy Wilkins (AA/AAA): .292/.398/.521 with 5 HR, 15 BB and 18 K in 96 AB
Jacob May (Rk Great Falls): .421/.522/.500, 4/5 in SBA with 6 BB and 6 K in 38 AB
Wilkins got a somewhat surprising promotion to AAA and is handling himself quite well. With the way the White Sox season is going, it suddenly wouldn't be shocking to see him get a shot in the Majors this season. Not many would have said that at the beginning of the year or even a month ago. Meanwhile, Tekotte definitely has some time in the Majors ahead of him, but his value seems locked in as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
May wasn't a well thought of talent, as far as third round draft picks go, but he's proving that wrong so far. Advanced college players should do well in the Pioneer League, but doing what you're supposed to do is always a good thing. May is looking like a solid pick for now.
Pitcher of the Month: Andre Rienzo
Stats: 2.3 ERA, 39 K, 10 BB, 30 H in 31.1 IP
After a dreadful start to the year, Rienzo is suddenly one of the hottest players in the organization. He's on an extended run of quality starts and with good peripherals as well. His overall numbers may not show it, but he is doing quite well in AAA. His April numbers (7.71 ERA, 20 K, 11 BB, 30 H in 25.2 IP) didn't have much positive. In May (5.74 ERA, 28 K, 14 BB, 34 H in 26.2 IP) the strikeout numbers were strong, but not much else. This month the walk and hit numbers dropped to make for an overall strong performance. Overall his last 10 starts Rienzo has a 2.56 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 20 walks in 59.2 innings. It's hard to argue with such success.
At 25 years old it's a good thing he's doing this now because he was losing his prospect status quickly early in the season. Now it looks like he has a shot to be a solid Major League pitcher. His control still isn't very sharp, but at the very least he should be capable to be a competent reliever if needed.
Erik Johnson (AA/AAA): 30 IP, 2.1 ERA, 23 K, 12 BB, 17 H
Kevin Vance (AA): 14 IP, 0.64 ERA, 18 K, 6 BB, 4 H
Bryan Blough (High-A): 35 IP, 1.29 ERA, 20 K, 7 BB, 27 H
Johnson has adjusted comfortably to AAA so far. In a year where the White Sox were competitive Johnson would likely be talked about as a key trading piece. Instead, it seems like others will be traded and make room for him in the rotation.
Vance hasn't gotten much attention as a 19th round draft pick and a reliever. However, he's 22 and dominating in AA. That's worthy of some notoriety. It remains to be seen if his stuff is good enough to continue to move up, but he's doing well at an age appropriate level in the high minors.
Blough's great month came out of nowhere since he had an ERA over 5.00 in both April and May. He didn't put up the K numbers to think this is sustainable, but he put together a noteworthy run.