Because we had so much fun in 2017, we wanted to go back and revisit some of our favorite moments and players from the season. As such, we'll be dishing out some honors. Today: the best pitcher of the season.
Top Pitcher: Dedgar Jimenez
There wasn't much buzz surrounding Dedgar Jimenez coming into the 2017 season. Sure, he'd competed at Greenville and Salem over the past two seasons while being pretty young for the levels, but he'd gone just 17-19 while posting an ERA of 4.83 and allowing hits by the boatload. Dedgar wasn't a mover and shaker on any prospect lists entering the season, but the Venezuelan southpaw returned to Salem ready to make a better impression than he did in 2016 (2-3, 6.35 ERA in nine starts).
Jimenez started off the year with a six-inning shutout effort at the Lynchburg Hillcats on April 10, earning his first win of the year. He also won his ensuing two starts, both on the road, before running into trouble for the first time. Lynchburg rocked Dedgar for six runs (five earned) in only four innings on April 26, and the Wilmington Blue Rocks torched him for seven runs in five frames on May 2. It seemed like things were going off track for the lefty until he made a strong five-inning relief appearance behind rehabbing MLB pitcher Roenis Elias on May 7. After that, Jimenez was arguably the best pitcher in the league for the rest of the first half; over his remaining seven starts, Dedgar went 5-1 with a 1.79 ERA. He reeled off four straight quality starts to close the first half, struck out 40 batters while walking only 10, and gave up only one homer in 40.1 innings. He closed the first half at 8-2 with a 3.38 ERA, and earned himself an All-Star nod for the Northern Division.
After the break, Dedgar got right back to work. He posted a quality start against Wilmington in his first appearance after the All-Star Game before Lynchburg got to him again on June 28. Jimenez turned on the afterburners to start July, with three straight starts of seven innings or longer and a ridiculous 0.82 ERA in 22 innings. He allowed just 14 hits and two walks, and held opposing hitters to a .184 batting average. Seeing his dominance, Boston promoted Jimenez to the Portland Sea Dogs. All he did over his remaining eight starts was go 5-0 with a 2.91 ERA for Portland, finishing the year at a staggering 15-3 with a 3.02 ERA.
Jimenez led all Red Sox minor leaguers with 15 wins, which tied him for third among all minor league players. His 118 strikeouts were fifth among Red Sox farmhands, and he was fourth in the organization with his total ERA of 3.02. The word is out on Dedgar, and you can bet he'll be a name you'll hear when people discuss Red Sox prospects in 2018.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.