08/25/2008 2:03 PM ET
Pitchers of the Week
For the week ending Aug. 25
By Bryan Smith / MLB.com
R.J. Seidel had back-to-back scoreless starts for the first time as a pro. (John M. Setzler, Jr./MLB.com)
James Parr, Richmond
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 1 GS, 12.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 SO
Richmond made a clean sweep of the Player of the Week honors, with catcher Corky Miller winning the offensive award and Parr the pitching award. Part of the success is certainly the doing of Parr, who put together back-to-back scoreless outings, earning wins in both starts and lowering his ERA to 3.38. It certainly looks similar to Parr's stint with Mississippi, where he was up-and-down before winning his last five starts. It's not inconceivable with one or two more wins, potentially matching his streak in Mississippi, that Parr could earn yet another promotion, this time to the Major League squad.
Pacific Coast League
Lindsay Gulin, Nashville
2-0, 0.69 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 14 SO
Gulin has shown flashes of this kind of success before this season, but putting it together in two consecutive starts has been more difficult. On May 15, the left-hander struck out 10 while throwing six hitless innings for his first win of the season. On July 8, Gulin won his fourth consecutive decision by allowing a solo home run (the lone hit surrendered) over seven innings. However, the southpaw had not won two consecutive starts this season until now, when he pieced together back-to-back dominant outings. The real gem came Saturday, when Gulin allowed just two hits over seven scoreless innings, striking out eight batters. You can bet Round Rock hopes it won't face Gulin again as he ends his season a perfect 3-0 in three starts against the Express.
Victor Zambrano, Trenton
2-0, 0.75 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO
It will probably be impossible for Victor Zambrano to escape being remembered as the guy who was traded for Scott Kazmir. When the Mets acquired the Venezuelan right-hander from Tampa Bay in 2004, no one seems to remember that for the rest of that season, and all of 2005, Zambrano gave the Mets 180 league-average (or better) innings. However, since 2005, Zambrano has struggled while Kazmir has blossomed, forever tilting the scale in the Rays' favor. However, the trade wasn't made by Zambrano, so it's certainly not difficult to root for him to refresh his resume. After beginning the season in the Rockies organization, going 0-6 with Colorado Springs, he was released by Colorado, and the Yankees brought him in. These two starts represent Zambrano's first two with the Trenton Thunder -- hopefully, two starts on the road back to the Major Leagues.
Jeremy Jeffress, Huntsville
2-0, 0.77 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 11.2 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 7 BB, 11 SO
It wasn't a perfect week for Jeffress by any standard; surely the former first-round pick has had better ones in his so-far stellar Minor League career. However, for a 20-year-old making just his second and third starts in Double-A, this is pretty impressive stuff. Jeffress didn't make it out of the third inning in his debut with the Stars, so perhaps he came out with something to prove against Birmingham last Monday. The right-hander allowed just three hits over six scoreless innings, showing minimal command difficulty with four walks. That didn't go away in his next outing against Carolina, when he walked three in 5 2/3, but Jeffress allowed just one run and struck out seven batters. So, while the shaky command is still there to be worked on, there's no questioning his stuff, nor the dominant results so far.
Neftali Feliz, Frisco
2-0, 1.80 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 10.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO
What a challenge the Rangers threw at Neftali Feliz six weeks ago, promoting him from the Midwest League to the Texas League (bypassing the Class A Advanced level). He certainly seemed prepared for the jump, through, having had a 2.52 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 82 innings with Clinton. Feliz continued his dominance when he arrived in Frisco, but with back-to-back losses entering this week, the Dominican finally showed he was human. Of course, that just meant that this week, he had to prove again that he wasn't. Feliz didn't allow a hit over five innings Aug. 19 as the RoughRiders rolled to a easy, 7-0, win over San Antonio. In his next start, Feliz gave up just three hits and two runs -- including his first home run allowed since June 27 -- against Midland, Frisco again earning a 9-3 win. This bounty from the Mark Teixeira trade continues to look good for the Rangers organization.
Rolando Valdez, Lake Elsinore
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO
It certainly says something about a pitcher to be able to bounce back from his worst start of the season by coming up with his best. On Aug. 17, Valdez was rocked badly, giving up 10 runs on 14 hits in just five innings against Rancho Cucamonga. It certainly looked like Valdez, who began the season in the bullpen, might be better suited for shorter outings. Not so. The Mexican right-hander rebounded in a big way Saturday, throwing seven shutout innings against Bakersfield to earn his seventh win of the season. Valdez allowed just three baserunners in the outing, striking out a season-high 10 batters in the process. Now, with his ERA down to 4.02 as a starter, the Padres organization looks bold for their July decision to stretch Valdez out.
Kyle Cofield, Myrtle Beach
1-0, 0.87 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 10.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
Despite earning a win on July 18, Cofield struggled, and it was enough for the Pelicans to move their right-hander to the bullpen for a short time. Cofield spent just two outings in a relief role, throwing seven scoreless innings in the process. He returned to the rotation Aug. 14, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings. After that, he allowed just one run on one hit in his next outing, and on Sunday, Cofield earned his first win in more than a month with six shutout innings. In his last five appearances, he has allowed just one run on 11 hits in 20 2/3 innings, dropping his ERA to 3.26. Perhaps most important, however, is that Cofield has issued just six walks in those five appearances, including, for the first time this season, none in Sunday's start.
Florida State League
Nicholas Additon, Palm Beach
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO
It certainly didn't take long for Additon to make an impression on the Florida State League. In just his second start at that level, Additon threw seven shutout innings for the first time this season. Shutouts are nothing new to the left-hander, who went seven straight appearances, spanning more than 30 innings without allowing a run in May and June in the Class A Midwest League. Additon was certainly Quad Cities' most consistent starter, and the organization had begun to stretch him out to allow seven-inning starts. It provided some fantastic preparation for the Class A Advanced level, as Additon was certainly ready for what St. Lucie threw at him Aug. 21. The left-hander had the first complete-game shutout of his career, pitching the second game of the doubleheader, as he allowed just five baserunners while striking out six in seven innings.
Corey Kluber, Fort Wayne
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 21 SO
This list is loaded with amazing performances from the week, but no one tops Corey Kluber in terms of dominance. The big right-hander was demoted in July from Lake Elsinore to Fort Wayne after the California League hit him hard, to the tune of a 6.01 ERA in 19 appearances. However, he finished on a good note, throwing four hitless innings in three relief appearances for the Storm. Kluber may be headed back to California soon, however, as he demonstrated this week that the Midwest League poses little challenge for him. On Aug. 19, Kluber had the week's best start, striking out 11 batters over eight one-hit innings against Lansing. Unfortunately, the game was a pitcher's duel that Fort Wayne lost in the 10th. Pitching against the same Lugnuts five days later, Kluber exacted a bit of revenge, and the win, this time with 10 strikeouts and four hits allowed over five innings.
South Atlantic League
R.J. Seidel, West Virginia
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO
It has been a good first full season for Seidel, with many milestones being passed. The La Crosse, Wisc., native put a new one behind him last week by posting back-to-back scoreless starts for the first time as a professional. Needless to say, it resulted in back-to-back wins for the big right-hander, who pushed his record to 9-5 for the season. Seidel was dominant over six innings against Greenville on Monday, but even better five days later versus Lexington, shutting down the Legends by scattering four hits over seven innings. Seidel has been at his best in August, posting a 2.35 ERA in five starts as he's pushed himself to an impressive 6-1 record in the second half.
Chris Luck, Princeton
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 13 SO
Can anything go wrong for the Tampa Bay Rays this season? Their Major League team is in first place, their top prospect David Price has been fantastic, they are coming off a summer in which they landed the first pick in the Draft again. But most encouraging for the organization might be the mid-level prospects who just keep emerging -- for instance, Chris Luck, who has been a revelation in the Princeton bullpen. Luck has been stretched out of late, so a move to the rotation next season could be contemplated. However, this role is working for him, with four consecutive scoreless outings building a stretch of 16 innings without a run. Luck was dominant in two games against Elizabethton this week, sending his record to 6-0, with one save.
Angelo Paulino, Danville
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO
It certainly seems to have been the week for long relievers in the Appy League, and if Luck was bested by anyone, it was Paulino. The big Dominican continued his recent dominance this week, especially Aug. 20 against Bristol. Paulino didn't allow a hit in 3 2/3 innings, striking out six batters and walking just one. In his next outing, Aug. 23 against Elizabethton, he allowed just one hit in three scoreless innings, striking out five. Paulino has been fantastic this season, especially in the strikeout column, where he's garnered 60 whiffs in just 48 innings. The right-hander also has a nifty 2.25 groundball-to-flyball ratio on the season.
Taylor Sinclair, Missoula
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 13 SO
It's not so much Sinclair's back-to-back scoreless starts that are impressive, or the fact that he's held opponents scoreless in four of his six starts with Missoula. No, what's most impressive is that Sinclair was the man who stopped Orem. Over a two-week span in which the Owlz didn't lose another game, the left-hander was the only one to shut down their potent offense. On Monday, Sinclair allowed just two hits in six scoreless innings. Sinclair then turned his attention to the league's other first-place team -- Billings -- on Sunday, striking out eight Mustangs over six scoreless innings. The Pioneer League, usually known as a hitter's haven, hasn't looked that way to Sinclair, who has a 3.27 ERA through 33 innings this summer.
New York-Penn League
Scott Shaw, Brooklyn
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO
Credit the Mets scouting department with this find, as Shaw certainly looks to be an example of how scouts earn their paychecks. Shaw is a product of the University of Illinois, where he pitched from 2006-2008, compiling an unremarkable 11-10 record and a ghastly 7.83 ERA in his last season there as a junior. The Mets saw something, however, enough to pick the right-hander in the 13th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Whatever they saw, it's definitely translating to wood bats in this league, where Shaw has a 2.76 ERA through 11 starts. His best outing yet came Thursday, when Shaw allowed just two batters over the minimum in six and two-thirds innings, striking out 10 for the first time as a professional.
Mike Loree, Salem-Keizer
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 11.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO
Certainly a player to root for, Loree was drafted in the final round of the 2007 Draft out of Villanova University. This season, he has been dominant, with two hitless outings (six and seven innings, respectively), and a span of 20 frames in which he allowed just one hit. He wasn't that dominant this week, but it's tough to beat 11 scoreless innings in two starts, even if the result was two no-decisions as Loree saw his defense and bullpen betray him both times. Spin Loree's numbers however you want, they always end up amazing. The right-hander has chalked up 64 strikeouts against just four walks over 69 2/3 innings. Opponents are batting just .205 off him. He hasn't allowed a home run since July 5. This is dominance.
Bryan Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.