Fresno won’t be able to defend its Triple-A championship but the Grizzlies can lay claim to having the best pitcher in the Pacific Coast League.
Right-hander Brady Rodgers became the first Grizzly in franchise history to be named PCL Pitcher of the Year, which was announced Wednesday, a day after the reigning league and Triple-A champs were officially eliminated from the postseason.
Rodgers led the PCL in ERA at 2.91 headed into Wednesday’s start, his final one of the season. In what is known as a hitters’ league, it would be the third-best ERA in the Grizzlies’ 19-year history based on a minimum of 75 innings pitched. Ben Weber finished at 2.42 in 2000 and Cory Bailey at 2.47 in 1998.
At 12-4, he is tied for third in wins and his WHIP of 1.16 is fourth. The starting pitcher in the midseason Triple-A All-Star Game, Rodgers has struck out 112 batters while he’s walked 22 in 130 innings.
114Brady Rodgers’ season high for strikeouts, set in 2013 while pitching for Class-A Lancaster, Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City. He has 112 for Fresno headed into his final start of the 2016 season.
Rodgers has struggled down the stretch, with a 4.43 ERA in August. He won his first two starts of the month but has a loss and a no decision since, a stretch that coincided with the Grizzlies losing 10 of 11 to fall out of contention in the PCL’s Pacific Northern Division. Elimination came Tuesday after a 5-3 loss at division-leading Tacoma.
Still, the 25-year-old is 12-2 with a 2.48 ERA over his past 17 starts and set a career high for victories in a breakthrough season. A third-round pick by major league parent club Houston in the 2012 draft out of Arizona State, Rodgers was 9-7 with a 4.51 ERA at Fresno in 2015. He is 45-33 with a 4.07 ERA in five minor league seasons.
Rodgers pitched in both the Little League World Series and College World Series on his way to professional baseball. Also on his Lamar National Little League team out of Richmond, Texas, was St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk.
The PCL has named a top pitcher since 2004. Balloting was conducted by the 16 field managers and media representatives from across the league. Rodgers garnered more than two-thirds of the total votes, with Sacramento’s Ty Blach (14-7, 3.43 ERA) finishing second. The Most Valuable Player will be announced Thursday and Manager of the Year on Friday.