FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) – TinCaps left-handed pitcher Joey Cantillo earned the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week award for the week of June 17-23, the league announced on Monday. The 19-year-old from Hawaii struck out a career-high 10 batters in six scoreless innings against the Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate) on Thursday night in Midland, Mich. He allowed just two singles and no walks in a game the ’Caps won, 6-0, with all of their runs coming in the ninth inning. After one of those singles, Cantillo actually picked the runner off.
Cantillo’s sterling start was just his latest in a sensational season. The San Diego Padres’ 16th-round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft has a 1.96 ERA across 12 starts. For pitchers in the league who’ve worked at least 50 innings, Cantillo has the second lowest ERA, while his WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) of 0.87 is the league’s best. Opponents are batting .161 against him—the lowest average against a pitcher league-wide. MLB.com rates him as the 30th 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 11.95 batters per nine innings. At the same time, he’s walked just 8% of opponents. That 26% disparity between K% and BB% is another category in which he leads the MWL. Cantillo is averaging 4.29 strikeouts per walk.
Believe it or not, he’s accomplished these numbers despite having had mixed results in April. But since the calendar turned to May, in eight starts, Cantillo’s ERA is an even more miniscule 0.62 with 54 strikeouts to eight walks in 43 1/3 innings pitched. The league has slashed .139/.183/.194 (.377 OPS) against him over this stretch.
“I’m thankful for the recognition,” Cantillo said. “But you can always be better, and I’m just focused on continuing to work to improve.”
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 is very mature for only being 19,” said pitching coach Matt Williams. “His day-to-day approach is really impressive. It’s been fun to watch his success.”
Cantillo is the second TinCap to garner a weekly accolade from the Midwest League this season. Infielder Tucupita Marcanowas 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 last week.
Cantillo is scheduled to next pitch on Wednesday, June 26 (12:05 p.m.)when the TinCaps host the South Bend Cubs. The ’Caps start a weeklong homestand at Parkview Field on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m.