Cantillo Earns Second Consecutive Midwest League Pitcher of the Week Award

Sports

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — TinCaps left-handed pitcher Joey Cantilloearned the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week award for the week of June 24-30, the league announced on Monday. The 19-year-old from Hawaii has now won the award in consecutive weeks, marking the first time since 2017 that a pitcher has achieved the feat (Clark Beeker, Cedar Rapids).  

Cantillo twirled a masterful start on Wednesday afternoon at Parkview Field against the South Bend Cubs (Chicago Cubs affiliate), tossing eight scoreless innings while taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The left-hander racked up nine strikeouts with no walks and just two singles allowed.

The last time a TinCaps pitcher went eight innings was Aug. 8, 2017, at Great Lakes when right-hander Pedro Avila allowed only one run in a game in which he struck out a franchise record 17 batters. The last time a TinCaps pitcher threw eight scoreless innings was Sept. 9, 2011, when left-hander Mark Hardy did it in a playoff game. The last Fort Wayne pitcher to throw eight scoreless innings in a regular season start was Corey Kluber on Aug. 19, 2008.

Cantillo was also outstanding in his previous start, striking out a career-high 10 batters in six scoreless innings against the Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate) on Thursday, June 20, in Midland, Mich. He allowed just two singles and no walks in that start as well.

Cantillo’s sterling starts have been just the latest footnotes in a sensational season. The San Diego Padres’ 16th-round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft has a 1.71 ERA across 13 starts. Cantillo has the lowest ERA among qualifying pitchers in all of Class A and the third lowest ERA in all of Minor League Baseball. Opponents are batting .152 against him—the lowest average in all of Minor League Baseball. Cantillo’s WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) of 0.79 is the Midwest League’s best.MLB.com rates him as the 30thth best prospect in San Diego’s farm system.

Cantillo, who throws a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup, has struck out 34% of the batters he’s faced this season, which also leads the league. To put it another way, he’s striking out 11.71 batters per nine innings. At the same time, he’s walked just 7% of opponents. That 27% disparity between K% and BB% is another category in which he leads the MWL.

Advanced metrics like Cantillo, too. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, which is comparable to ERA) of 2.21 is the best in the MWL, and so is his 2.56 xFIP

Believe it or not, he’s accomplished these numbers despite having an inconsistent April. But since the calendar turned to May, in nine starts, Cantillo’s ERA is a miniscule 0.53 with 63 strikeouts to eight walks in 51 1/3 innings pitched.

“I appreciate those who selected me for this award,” Cantillo said. “I’m thankful for my teammates and coaches who’ve helped me develop and push me to get better. We’re excited to improve in this second half of the season.”

Keep in mind, the average age for a pitcher in the Midwest League this season is 21.9 years old. The average age for a hitter is 21.2 years old. Cantillo won’t turn 20 until Dec. 18 and he’s currently the fifth youngest pitcher in the league.  

“Joey’s work between starts has been very impressive, which has led to him going out and pitching with confidence,” said pitching coach Matt Williams. “He has done a tremendous job attacking the zone and being efficient.”

Cantillo is the second TinCap to garner a weekly accolade from the Midwest League this season. Infielder Tucupita Marcano was the circuit’s Offensive Player of the Week for the week of April 29-May 5. Additionally, TinCaps infielder Xavier Edwards , starting pitcher Ryan Weathers , and reliever Henry Henry were all selected for the Midwest League All-Star Game that was held in South Bend in mid-June. 

Cantillo is next scheduled to start on Tuesday night, when the TinCaps visit the Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians affiliate). The ’Caps return to Parkview Field to host the Captains on Thursday and Friday.

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