Lancaster Players of the Month--April

Chico was near perfect on opening day

The two players chosen as April's Players of the Month in Lancaster have been on the radar, but as blips more than bogeys until now. In a FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT FutureBacks names the Hi-A Players of the Month in the D'Backs system.

Position Player of the Month

Hi-A Lancaster JetHawks

OF

Chris Rahl

Batting Average

Runs

RBI

Doubles

BB/K

.355

15

10

10

5/17

Chris Rahl was not an unknown quantity coming into this season, but he certainly wasn't the first name that came to mind when you talked about talented Diamondbacks outfield prospects.  He is now.  Rahl had a better April than Carlos Quentin, better than Chris Young, better than his teammate, Carlos Gonzalez.  Playing mostly left, but with significant time in center field and even some time in right, Rahl has proved defensively versatile, and offensively dominant. 

Four games into the season he was just 2-14, and hadn't had a hit since opening day.  He then went on a 10 game hit streak, lost it, and then went on to another six game streak.  In 22 April games he had 12 multi hit games in the month, scored 15 runs and drove in 10. 

Perhaps the one flaw was his 17 strikeouts in 93 at bats, but as Rahl adjusts, he figures to start making more consistent contact, and his despite only hitting three home runs, his 10 doubles show that Rahl does have power, and it figures to grow.  If those doubles start turning into home runs, the Diamondbacks will worry much less about strikeouts, though with his speed, the ability to get on should be Rahl's focus for the rest of the season.

Pitcher of the Month

Hi-A Lancaster JetHawks

Left Handed Starting Pitcher

Matt Chico

W-L

ERA

IP per Start

Opponents Average

BB/K

2-1

1.53

5.82

.185

6/31

Matt Chico apparently likes to make a good first impression.  On opening day the 22 year old left hander threw five innings of no hit ball, walking three and striking out seven.  Though he would not earn the win that day, it was a statement that Chico, who started last season at Double-A before being moved back down to Lancaster, would not struggle the same way he did at the start of '05.

He would also not be satisfied.  As strong as Chico started, he finished nearly as well.  In his fifth start of the month Chico went seven innings, allowing five hits and one run, walking zero and striking out seven for the second time in the month.  Chico struck out more than a batter an inning in April, and after walking three in the opener he walked just three more over the next 24.1 innings in the month. 

"His control, both inside and outside the strike zone, is light years ahead of where he was last year," a scout who watched every start Chico made in April says, "Last year he was a lefty with a lot of movement and great velocity, this year he's pitching, he's changing speeds, he spotting the ball, he's doing whatever he wants."

Even Chico's 'bad' games are impressive.  His lone loss of the month featured a total of zero earned runs (the JetHawks gave up two unearned), and in his worst start statistically, four earned in 5.1 innings, he earned the win.  Chico was the best pitcher in the organization in April, and might have claimed the top spot among lefty starters organizationally as well.

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