The Minor League Sports Report named Nick Hernandez of the Winnipeg Goldeyes as their American Association Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday. The 6-4, 215 pound left-hander had a huge season for the North Division Champion Goldeyes this season, and was a leading reason why they won the division.
Hernandez pitched in his first American Association season in 2014 and made a big impression right-off. The 26-year-old made 20 appearances, all starts, and was tied for the league lead in wins with 12. He also finished second in ERA at 3.05 and ninth in strikeouts with 93.
For the left-hander it was a season of streaks. He began the year with three no-decisions, in which he was hit rather hard in each case. In the 13.2 innings he pitched he gave up 12 earned runs off of 26 hits and 3 walks, and looked like he may not be ready for the Independent League.
As the calendar turned to June Hernandez caught fire. In his next six starts he won five of them and had a no-decision in the other. All of them but one were quality starts, with his best performance coming on June 23 where he pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just 4 hits and striking out 8. During the streak Hernandez pitched in 39.2 innings, allowed 33 hits and 11 earned runs for a 2.50 ERA. He also had 48 strikeouts during the run.
On july 10 a new mini-streak began where he lost two consecutive decisions. The first was a quality start where he gave up just 2 runs to Sioux City in a 2-0 loss, but in the second start he was hit rather hard by St. Paul, losing 5-2 and yielding 5 runs on 7 hits in 6 innings. On July 16 his record was 5-2. He would not lose again.
Hernandez made nine more starts, winning seven of them and gaining a no-decision in the other two. Of the nine starts, five were quality starts and three were scoreless appearances. In 53.2 innings he gave up 43 hits and 11 earned runs for an outstanding 1.84 ERA. His strikeout numbers decreased as the season went along, fanning 38 during the streak, but he clearly showed he was on his game. He showed he could dominant games on most nights.
For the season he finished with 120.2 innings pitched, allowed 117 hits and just 22 walks, while striking out 93. Nick Hernandez record and ERA showed he was the ideal choice as the league’s best pitcher.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA