The criteria I used for this selection are as follows:
Primarily worked as a starter, not from the bullpen.
Minimum 15 starts.
ERA under 5.00.
First of all, this eliminates Tyrell Jenkins. The 20-year-old seemed to have gotten his stuff together toward the end of the season but he had a very lackluster season overall. Perhaps our expectations were set too high, but Jenkins disappointed the fans more often than not. The right-hander has the talent; he just didn't show it this year. I hope Jenkins spends this off-season getting his head together so he gives the Cardinals some return on their investment.
That left four pitchers to consider - Sam Gaviglio, Kyle Hald, Dail Villanueva, and Hector Hernandez. Jonathan Cornelius was on the list to consider but he spent more time in the bullpen than in the rotation; actually he fell just five innings short of Jenkins. Other starters were not in the Quad Cities long enough to consider for recognition here.
Kyle Hald (4-5 in 16 starts) was on my list for a long time, but in my final analysis, I withdrew him because he was promoted to Palm Beach in mid-July and I felt that he hadn't really been here long enough. The left-hander had the best ERA (3.10) among the starters. He allowed 88 hits in 90 innings. Hald is a strong pitcher and throws hard. The 23-year-old's promotion to Palm Beach is an indication that he has a future with this organization.
Dail Villanueva (10-7 in 23 starts) was the only Bandits starter with a winning record on the season. Many times I see teams that think they can hit better when a certain pitcher is on the mound and I think that Dail benefited from that mindset this year. The 22-year-old Venezuelan pitched 123.2 innings and allowed 59 earned runs. His ERA of 4.29 was the deciding factor in not naming him for this honor. Villanueva had a rough start, but by the end of the season, he was a very dependable pitcher that fans looked forward to seeing on the mound.
Hector Hernandez (7-8 in 24 starts) was a quiet giant this year. He was easy to overlook sometimes, but put up very solid numbers. The 21-year-old left-hander pitched 126 innings and allowed 62 earned runs. Again, it was his ERA of 4.43 that kept him from getting my nomination for Pitcher of the Year. The Puerto Rican native has a good future as a mid-reliever. I think Hector will be able to use up a lot of innings when needed.
Sam Gaviglio (9-9 in 23 starts) was the Bandits' workhorse this summer. The 22-year-old pitched 133.0 innings, seven more than anyone else on the team. His 3.92 ERA was better than any of the starters who were here all summer. The right-hander also struck out 19 more batters than the next starter (113 Ks). Sam is very soft spoken but was a natural leader on the team. I often saw him riding his bicycle home after games.
Congratulations to Sam and to the other starters. I know the final outcome of the season was not what any of them wanted and I believe they will go into next year with a new resolve to win more games, make the post-season, and bring home another ring.
Next week, I'll look at our Quad Cities Player of the Year, the last article I'll write on this assignment. I'm looking forward to continuing with The Cardinal Nation in a role that will be defined during the off-season.
Link to master article with all 2012 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series.
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