Position Player of the Month—Carlos Gonzales
In South Bend there are a bunch of big time position prospects. The return of shortstop Mark Reynolds meant less playing time for Alberto Gonzalez, Cesar Nicolas came back from a broken hand forcing the Silverhawks to find at bats for Javier Brito. Allen Mottram shares time behind the dish with Orlando Mercado and Wilkin Castillo. Augie Murillo has been a hit machine, but in June, the words on the street were, Carlos Gonzales.
The right fielder won't even turn 20 years old for another three months, and in some organizations he'd probably be in the bigs before he could buy a beer. He certainly deserves one. Gonzales finished June with four homers, 19 runs, 18 RBI, a .590 slugging percentage and a .474 on base percentage. Mottram had more runs scored (20), Reynolds had more RBI (21), and both hit more jacks (8), but Gonzalez also had a .400 batting average in the month (40-100) and walked more often than any other Silverhawks except Murillo.
He's got the best arm of any position player in the system, his power is coming on (he hit one homer in April, two in May, four in June and he's already cracked four in eight games in July), he's got speed (five steals in six attempts) and his pitch recognition is coming quick. Did we mention he's only 19? The Diamondbacks know it and plan to keep him in South Bend for a full season? Barring disaster next year he'll start in Lancaster and will move as quickly as his talent can take him.
Pitcher of the Month—A. J. Shappi
Mr. Shappi will not be able to join us in South Bend to accept his reward because he's already been promoted. When Shappi got the bump to Hi-A Lancaster it wasn't a surprise to anyone who watched him pitch or glanced at his stats. While closer Matt Elliott (nine saves and a 2.08 ERA in June) and Koley Kolberg announced his arrival (a 3.24 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 33.1 innings pitched during six June starts), it was Shappi who dominated.
His 11 wins keep him tied for third in all the minors, despite missing a start due to the promotion. His 109.2 innings pitched are Top 15 in the minors and he averages 6.86 innings per start. In June he was stellar. In three starts he was 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA and just one walk in 28.2 innings pitched. He struck out 18 and has done it all without a power fastball.
Shappi's game is location, and one that will be tested in the California League. His first start there came on the 4th of July and was solid if unspectacular (four earned in six innings), but the Shappi has clearly vaulted himself into the Top 10 pitching prospects in the organization, and if he performs well in Lancaster he'll solidify himself in the Top 5. His performance in the second half should also map out his 2006. If he continues to pitch the way he did in South Bend he will start next season in Double-A, if he falters, expect him to repeat in Lancaster, but only to work on specific things, and as soon as he's ready he'll move to Tennessee.