FORT WAYNE, Ind. – TinCaps left-handed pitcher Joey Cantillo has won the Midwest League’s Pitcher of the Week Award for the week of July 29-Aug. 4, the league announced on Monday. The 19-year-old from Hawaii now has won the award three times this season—something no Fort Wayne player has ever done before. He’s also the first Midwest League pitcher to achieve the feat three times in a season since Zack Erwin of the Beloit Snappers in 2017.
“I appreciate the recognition,” Cantillo said. “But it’s only possible with the help of my teammates and coaches, and I know I need to continue working hard to improve.”
Cantillo tossed two more masterful starts this past week for the TinCaps. First, the left-hander limited the Dayton Dragons to one run on four hits in a six-inning start at Parkview Field last Monday. Then, Cantillo tossed six hitless and scoreless innings against the West Michigan Whitecaps on Sunday. The Padres prospect combined for 13 strikeouts between his two outings.
Cantillo’s last two starts are just the latest chapters in a sensational season. San Diego’s 16th-round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft has a 1.93 ERA across 19 starts. Cantillo has the lowest ERA among qualifying pitchers in the Midwest League and the fourth lowest ERA in all of Minor League Baseball. Opponents are batting .173 against him—the third lowest average in all of MiLB. Cantillo’s WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) of 0.87 is also the second best in all of MiLB. MLB.com rates him as the 19th best prospect in San Diego’s farm system.
Cantillo, who throws a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup, has struck out 35% of the batters he’s faced this season, which leads the Midwest League. To put it another way, he’s striking out 11.76 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.
The advanced metrics also underline how stunning Cantillo has been this season. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, which is comparable to ERA) of 2.17 is the best in the MWL, and so is his 2.48 xFIP.
Believe it or not, he’s accomplished these numbers despite having an inconsistent April. But since the calendar turned to May, in 15 starts, Cantillo’s ERA is a miniscule 1.25 with 109 strikeouts to 18 walks in 86 1/3 innings pitched. Joey leads the Minor Leagues in ERA, WHIP (0.75) and opposing batting average (.163) since May 1.
Cantillo was also named the Midwest League Uncle Ray’s Player of the Month award for June, posting a league-low 0.36 ERA across 25 innings in four starts. Cantillo struck out 30 batters, while walking only one. His batting average against (.099) and WHIP (0.36) were also the best in the MWL.
Elsewhere around San Diego’s farm system, 2018 TinCaps starting pitcher Luis Patiño, now with the Lake Elsinore Storm, was named the High-A California League’s Pitcher of the Week and 2018 TinCaps infielder Owen Miller, now with the Amarillo Sod Poodles,won the Double-A Texas League’s Offensive Player of the Week award.