Font turns strikeouts into Pitcher of Week nod
Wilmer Font was in "attack mode" last week, and it almost brought his pitching coach to tears.On May 15, Font struck out 15 and carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, a performance that could've been enough to earn Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week on its own.
On May 15, Font struck out 15 and carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, a performance that could've been enough to earn Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week on its own. Instead, the 26-year-old sealed the award with 10 more strikeouts over five innings on Sunday.
Triple-A Oklahoma City pitching coach Matt Herges said he planned to have the right-hander sit down and watch tape of himself after the 15-strikeout performance.
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"I'm going to encourage him to watch this game, because it's a good thing to see when you're going good," Herges told MiLB.com. "Oftentimes, we just watch video when we're going bad to try to figure things out, but I like to watch it because I haven't had him before this year, but this is probably the best he's been.
"He was in attack mode from pitch one all the way to 98," Herges added. "That's what I want to encourage. That's what I want him to continue to do to keep rolling. Attack works. Careful never works."
Font, who originally came up in the Rangers organization and made his Minor League debut in 2007, retired the first 18 Sacramento batters before allowing a walk and two singles in the seventh.
"His ball has got that carry to it, so he was elevating late in counts, and they just swung right through it," Herges said.
Herges, who spent 11 seasons in the Majors from 1999-2009, said he almost started crying when he hugged Font after the starter finished up.
"Every bullpen, he's sweating his butt off," Herges said. "He's constantly in it. He watches every pitch. He's a great teammate. This is what makes coaching so fun. To see the fruits of that, it was to the point where I've got to be careful because I'm watching this, and I'm getting choked up. With a kid like this especially, he's such a high-character guy. To see him just enjoying being out there and dominating a game, I gave him a hug after he came out, and I had to walk away quick because if I held on one more second, it was waterworks."
This season, Font is 3-3 with a 4.40 ERA and leads the PCL with 73 strikeouts in 47 innings. The native of Venezuela made his Major League debut in September 2012 and has appeared in five big league games with Texas. Last year, he went 4-4 with a 3.68 ERA between Triple-A Buffalo and Double-A New Hampshire in the Blue Jays' system. He signed with the Dodgers in December.
Herges especially praised Font's split-finger fastball against the River Cats.
"If they did foul it off, he'd come back with a split that was filthy, and they'd swing at that," Herges said. "Everything he did, he was on the attack the entire night."
The 6-foot-4 hurler allowed three runs on five hits on Sunday at El Paso, but did not factor in the decision. In his last 12 innings, Font has yielded four earned runs and seven hits with 25 strikeouts and three walks.
Below is a full list of the Minor League Pitchers of the Week for May 15-21:
Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow his MLBlog column, Minoring in Twitter.