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Pitchers of the Week06/03/2013 4:39 PM ET
Here's a look at the top pitching performers in each league for the week ending June 2:
The 31-year-old right-hander did his best to force the Yankees' hand with a pair of seven-inning shutout performances for the RailRiders this past week. He's proven quite accurate in his latest Triple-A turn, having not allowed more than two walks in a start and holding a 1.6 walks-per-nine-innings rate. Although he's still been unable to rack up the strikeouts (just 25 in 58 innings this season), he continues to dominate with a heavy sinker that has resulted in a 1.96 groundout-to-airout ratio in nine starts.
Pacific Coast League
The Padres' No. 8 prospect had struggled in his previous two starts for the Padres' Triple-A affiliate, allowing a combined nine earned runs on 17 hits without having pitched past the fifth inning in either affair. He responded in a big way by permitting just two hits and three walks in seven scoreless innings on Monday. The southpaw's 11 strikeouts matched a Tucson franchise record established by Sean O'Sullivan earlier this season. He was rewarded with a promotion later in the week and earned the win in his first big league start after allowing two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday.
Clay had struck out only nine batters in his previous four starts combined entering the week before breaking out the K big time in his latest two outings with the Senators. The right-hander, who had worked primarily out of the bullpen the last two years while in the Red Sox system, established a career high with nine strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings Monday against Reading, only to meet the mark five days later in a shutout versus Trenton. That latest gem was Harrisburg's first single-pitcher shutout since Aug. 16, 2005.
The Dodgers' top pitching prospect put together his best outing of the season Tuesday night by striking out seven and scattering two hits and one walk over six innings in a 1-0 win over Mobile. It was actually his second scoreless performance against the BayBears, following a similar start on May 7. He tossed a scoreless inning Sunday in the first relief outing of his three-year pro career and lowered his ERA to 2.62, seventh-best in the Southern League.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander rebounded last week from his shortest outing, during which he gave up five runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings, to toss a pair of seven-inning gems. The better of the two came on Tuesday, when he struck out eight and allowed just one hit and three walks in those seven frames against Tulsa. The trick for Smith going forward will be maintaining his current level of production. After going 4-3 with a 3.13 ERA through 12 appearances en route to a Texas League All-Star nod last year, he fell off to 6-11 and 4.82 after a difficult second half. He is 5-6 with a 2.24 ERA (third in the circuit) in 12 outings so far this season.
Rodgers, a third-round pick out of Arizona State last year, combines with Preston Tucker to give the JetHawks a clean sweep of the week's awards. The 22-year-old right-hander has proven to be better as a reliever (2.22 ERA) than a starter (4.05) in Houston's piggybacking system this year but put up a scoreless performances in each role last week. He leads the team and ranks fifth in the Cal League with a 3.28 ERA through 14 appearances (seven starts).
The 20-year-old southpaw finished out the month on a high note, tossing his second straight scoreless outing for the Mudcats. His eight strikeouts over six innings in a 3-0 win over Wilmington were a career best, topping a previous high of six. It was also his second win in as many starts, thus improving his record to 3-5 through 10 starts. The 2011 19th-round pick's 3.18 ERA puts him seventh in the category among Carolina League hurlers.
Florida State League
Navarro hadn't pitched too poorly this season, but you wouldn't know it by glancing at his record. The 5-foot-9 left-hander took an 0-9 mark into his start against Jupiter on Friday before he finally grabbed his first win since Aug. 12, 2012, in a 3-0 victory over the Hammerheads. His seven innings that evening mark a season best, while his seven strikeouts are his second highest total in a start thus far. The Panama native is tied for fifth in the FSL with 55 punchouts through 61 1/3 innings this season.
John concluded an impressive May with his best professional performance yet, completing six four-hit innings in the Whitecaps' 5-0 blanking of Great Lakes on Wednesday. His eight K's in the outing represented his career high thus far. After going 0-2 with a 4.87 ERA in four April starts, the southpaw went 3-1 with a 2.23 mark in six May outings with a .239 opponents batting average and 29 strikeouts in 32 1/3 frames.
South Atlantic League
Cessa hadn't yet touched double digits in strikeouts in any professional outing before Saturday's start against Kannapolis. In fact, he had just tied his career-best seven punchouts in his previous start. Then, the 21-year-old right-hander fanned 10 Intimidators en route to a 5-0 victory. His two hits allowed were also a season low, despite coming in the longest of his nine starts of 2013.