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Pitchers of the Week

For the week ending June 1
June 2, 2008
International League
Jeremy Sowers, Buffalo
2-0, 0.69 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 16 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO
Before this week, Sowers had gone roughly a month without a win despite performing well. His solid outings finally resulted in W's last week, as the crafty lefty notched his third and fourth victories of the season. In both starts Sowers played the damage-control game, allowing eight hits in both outings (against the Toledo Mud Hens and Columbus Clippers), but only one earned run. The two-time first-round Draft choice (by the Cincinnati Reds in 2001 and Cleveland Indians in 2004) struck out five hitters and walked one in both games.

Pacific Coast League
Wade LeBlanc, Portland
2-0, 0.90 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 10.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 SO
There's no doubt it's been a struggle for LeBlanc this season. In his first nine starts, he allowed 40 earned runs in 40 2/3 innings. However, the 6-foot-2 lefty's performance last week should help him forget his early season woes. His turnaround began Tuesday against the Sacramento River Cats. LeBlanc, out of the University of Alabama, allowed one hit, struck out five and walked three in five shutout innings. After picking up his fourth win of the season, the second-round pick by the San Diego Padres in 2006 wanted more. Against the Las Vegas 51's on Sunday, LeBlanc tossed five more strong innings, yielding two hits and one earned run while fanning eight and walking one for his fifth victory of the year.

Eastern League
Randy Newsom, Akron
2-0, 3 SV, 1.80 ERA, 5 G, 0 GS, 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO
Signed as an non-drafted free agent by the Boston Red Sox in 2004, Newsom is making a name for himself this season in the Cleveland Indians organization. The right-handed closer is third in the Minor Leagues in saves (16) after adding three last week. In addition to closing three contests, Newsom picked up victories in his two other appearances last week (Monday against the Erie Seawolves and Friday against the Bowie Baysox). The Cincinnati native has boasted a sub-2.00 ERA since April 27 and allowed just three earned runs all year -- two of which scored in his first appearance of the season.

Southern League
Clayton Richard, Birmingham
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 16.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
Talk about dominant. Richard, who tends to go deep into ballgames (pitching 75 innings in 12 starts) fired seven shutout innings against the Jacksonville Suns Monday to earn his fourth win of the year. He allowed only four hits and struck out five. As if that wasn't good enough, Richard went on to toss a complete-game shutout against the Mississippi Braves, this time surrendering only three hits while striking out two and walking one. It was the first career complete-game shutout for the 6-foot-5 left-hander.

<%-- POLL --%>

Who was the top pitcher in the Minors this week?
Jeremy Sowers
Wade LeBlanc
Randy Newsom
Clayton Richard
Jess Todd
Graham Godfrey
Ryne Reynoso
Kyle Mura
Christian Beltre
Jason Stephens
Randall Taylor
<%-- END POLL --%> Texas League
Jess Todd, Springfield
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
The 22-year old right-hander is progressing rapidly through the Cardinals system and impressing at every level. A second-round pick in the 2007 Draft, Todd appeared in seven games for Class A Advanced Palm Beach before moving up to Springfield on May 7. Last week, the 5-foot-11 starter dominated the San Antonio Missions with his 90-94 mph fastball and hard sweeping slider, throwing seven shutout innings. His only setback was his three hit-batsmen. In five starts for Springfield, Todd has a 0.91 ERA with 21 strikeouts and seven walks.

California League
Graham Godfrey, Stockton
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO
It hasn't been the smoothest season for Godfrey, who began the year as a reliever, but perhaps things are coming together for the 6-foot-3 righty after his brilliant eight-inning shutout of the High Desert Mavericks. The College of Charleston product allowed four hits, struck out nine and walked none. Perhaps more importantly, his performance helped end Stockton's five-game losing streak. It's the first time this season the 34th round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006 has lasted beyond the sixth inning, and he nearly doubled his previous season-high in strikeouts in a game (five).

Carolina League
Ryne Reynoso, Myrtle Beach
2-0, 0.75 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 9 SO
Reynoso is the workhorse of the Pelicans staff despite the fact that this is his first professional season as a full-time starter. He leads the team in innings (57) and has thrown at least six frames in six of his last eight starts. Twice last week, he threw six innings, and allowed only one earned run -- Sunday against the Frederick Keys. He gave up two runs Monday to the Winston-Salem Warthogs, but neither were earned. The Boston College product has never fanned more than 71 at any level, but with nine punch-outs in his last two starts, is already up to 52 on the season.

Florida State League
Kyle Mura, Palm Beach
2-0, 1.15 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 15.2 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 12 SO
With two victories last week, Mura overtook the team lead in wins with five. More impressive, however, was how he got them. The San Diego, Calif. native has flip-flopped from reliever to starter throughout the season and not pitched more than five innings in any of his appearances. That all changed Tuesday and Sunday against the Jupiter Hammerheads and St. Lucie Mets, when he tossed 7 1/3 and 8 1/3 innings, respectively. The Loyola Marymount University product displayed exemplary control, striking out 12 without a walk to bump his season total to 44 -- nine shy of his career high.

Midwest League
Christian Beltre, South Bend
2-0, 3.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 1 CG, 15.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 15 SO
Beltre picked up his fourth and fifth wins of the season last week to take the team lead. Beltre book-ended the Silver Hawks' five-game winning streak, beginning with an admirable six-inning, four-run, eight-strikeout performance against the Lansing Lugnuts. Saturday, he was much better when he faced the West Michigan Whitecaps and allowed a run on two hits -- one being a solo homer -- while whiffing seven and walking one in a complete-game effort. Beltre has already surpassed his career high for strikeouts in a season with 48. His previous high was 41.

South Atlantic League
Jason Stephens, Charleston
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 SO
Recently converted from reliever to starter, Stephens is supporting the organization's move with excellent play. In his only start last week, the Ohio native pitched seven shutout innings, fanning a season-high 12 Hickory batters. The 6-foot-5 righty had never struck out more than five batters in any appearance before Friday. Stephens has allowed eight earned runs in his 2008 campaign and that, combined with his pinpoint control (he's walked just seven in 44 innings) is helping him make a strong case for promotion.

Randall Taylor, Asheville
0-0, 5 SV, 0.00 ERA, 5 G, 0 GS, 4.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO
The Minor League leader in saves showed no signs of fatigue as he improved his numbers across the board and joined Jason Stephens as one of the top two pitchers in the league last week. In five appearances, the Dallas Baptist University product picked up five saved while surrendering one hit, striking out six and walking two. He reduced his already minuscule ERA to 1.96 and has not allowed an earned run since May 24. None of the 10 runners he has inherited this season have scored.

Nick Cammarota is an associate reporter for