Wilmington, DE - The Carolina League announced on Thursday that Wilmington Blue Rocks pitcher Glenn Sparkman is the eight-team league's Pitcher of the Year. Sparkman's dominant season has seen him go 8-2 with a league-best 1.40 ERA in 28 appearances (17 starts). Also honored by the Carolina League was former Blue Rocks closer Mark Peterson, who was named to the league's year-end All-Star Team.
Sparkman's numbers have been tremendous in virtually every category this year. The right-handed hurler has yielded just 88 hits, 23 runs (18 earned) and 22 walks while striking out 113 in 116 innings pitched. He leads the league with a .209 batting average against and is second in the circuit with a 0.95 WHIP. Sparkman has not had an ERA higher than 1.88 in any calendar month since April, when he posted an earned run average of 3.00.
Sparkman's best month of the campaign was July. In five starts, he went 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA. He gave up a mere 22 hits and three walks while striking out 28 in 31 innings pitched. Sparkman's dazzling July earned him the Carolina League's Player of the Month award.
The 22-year-old began the year as a long reliever for the Blue Rocks. He went 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen. His success as a reliever prompted Wilmington to try him as a starting pitcher.
Sparkman has flourished since making his first career start on May 21. He is 6-1 with a 1.17 ERA in 17 starts. He has punched out 86 and issued just 15 free passes since his transition to the rotation. Sparkman has also kept opponents' hits to a minimum since then - only 69 in 92.1 innings pitched.
"I think [moving to the rotation] really affected me because I can get a lot more work on my pitches," Sparkman said last week. "Out of the 'pen, you just go out there and throw. You already know what your pitches do but you get more work at it as a starter."
The Kansas City Royals selected Sparkman in the 20th Round of the 2013 Draft. Prior to the draft, he drove with his mother from their home in Ganado, Texas, to Kansas City, where he threw a bullpen session that convinced the Royals to take him.
"The Royals asked me to come throw a bullpen at Kauffman Stadium my last year at junior college," Sparkman said. "At first I didn't think I was going to be able to make it, because that's a long trip and it would cost us some money and my mom would have to take time off work. But she thought it was an opportunity that I needed to take, so she found a way to get off work and we drove all through the night to be able to throw the bullpen."
Peterson's honor comes thanks to his 1.33 ERA in 33 games as Wilmington's closer. The right-hander converted 22 of his 24 save tries. Despite a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas on July 25, Peterson's 22 saves still lead the circuit. He was one of four Blue Rocks to represent the Carolina League in this year's California League/Carolina League All-Star Game, presented by Bank of America.
The Rocks return to action on Thursday night at Frawley Stadium for the fourth of five games against the Potomac Nationals. Wilmington will send southpaw Jonathan Dziedzic (5-7, 2.65) to the mound while Potomac will counter with fellow lefty Hector Silvestre (1-2, 5.40). First pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m. and fans can listen to the broadcast on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.