Zach Duke, Syracuse
(2-0, 1.80 ERA, 2 G, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 15 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 15 K)
A National League All-Star with the Pirates in 2009, Duke has struggled in the years since. He's quietly had a strong season with the Chiefs, however, posting a 13-5 record with a 3.57 ERA and going 9-0 at home. This week he notched his first shutout since that All-Star campaign, three-hitting the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Saturday night. The 29-year-old southpaw's 15 strikeouts this week are one more than he recorded in 32 July innings.
Pacific Coast League
Jon Link, New Orleans
(0-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 G, 5 SV, 5 SVO, 5 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 5 K)
Link joined the Zephyrs on July 28 after a three-outing tune-up in Double-A Jacksonville after being released by the Orioles in June. In seven PCL appearances, the 28-year-old right-hander has been all but perfect -- he has yet to allow a hit and has walked just two. This week Link converted five save opportunities and walked one of the 18 batters he faced. He closed out three consecutive Zephyrs victories in Tacoma from Monday through Wednesday, then retired all seven batters he faced against Fresno over the weekend.
Mark Cohoon, Binghamton
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 10 K)
A 12th-round pick out of North Central Texas in 2008, Cohoon is in his third season with the B-Mets. Friday night he had the strongest of his 41 outings with Binghamton, fanning a season-high 10 batters in a two-hit shutout at Harrisburg. After a 49-minute rain delay, Cohoon retired the first 11 batters he faced before issuing a fourth-inning walk. He held the Senators hitless until a one-out double in the seventh and faced 31 batters in the 5-0 whitewash to earn his third win in four starts.
Kirby Yates, Montgomery
(2-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 G, 1 SV, 2 SVO, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 13 K)
Another superlative reliever, Yates did allow a few hits this week, but no one scored. Even more impressively, the Hawaiian-born right-hander fanned 13 of the 25 batters he faced while walking just one. Yates has held Southern League hitters to a .198 average this season (.130 with runners in scoring position) and piled up 83 strikeouts in 62 innings -- a 12 strikeouts per nine inning rate that is third-best on the circuit.
Nick Maronde, Arkansas
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 5 K)
A third-round pick out of the University of Florida in 2011, Maronde was dominant at short-season Orem last summer and has been even better in 10 outings with Inland Empire earlier this year. After being hit hard in his Double-A debut on Aug. 2, the left-hander rebounded to toss eight scoreless frames at first-place Corpus Christi on Wednesday, allowing four hits in his first Texas League win. Maronde was twice the Cal League's Pitcher of the Week earlier in the season.
Bradin Hagens, Visalia
(0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 7 K)
Hagens started the season in the Rawhide bullpen, but after the right-hander put up a 6.48 ERA in 24 appearances, the D-backs shifted him to the Visalia rotation. The results have been superb. With seven shutout innings against Inland Empire on Saturday, Hagens has a 13-inning scoreless streak going and owns a 2.89 ERA as a starter. The 23-year-old has been particularly adept at keeping the ball in the park -- he's allowed three home runs in 80 innings overall this season.
Erik Johnson, Winston-Salem
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 14 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 2 BB, 13 K)
Johnson also pitched seven scoreless innings this week -- twice. The second-round pick in 2011 had never gone that long before in his brief 15-game career before holding Wilmington to three hits on Tuesday. Sunday afternoon he was back at it, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning at Potomac and ultimately allowing three hits as the Dash notched their 15th shutout of the season in a 7-0 win. Johnson has held Carolina League hitters to a .179 average in five games since his promotion to Winston-Salem in late July.
Florida State League
Rafael Montero, St. Lucie
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 3 BB, 5 K)
Montero pitched brilliantly for Class A Savannah earlier in the season, going 6-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 12 starts, and has been even better since his promotion to St. Lucie in late June. The 21-year-old right-hander fanned a career-high 14 Threshers on July 31, then held host Palm Beach hitless over 7 2/3 frames on Tuesday. Montero set down 15 consecutive batters between walks in the third and eighth and was pulled for a reliever when he surpassed his 105-pitch limit.
Mark Williams, Wisconsin
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 1 GS, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 2 BB, 13 K)
Williams has bounced back and forth between the Timber Rattlers bullpen and rotation all season -- back on May 4, he tossed the final four frames of a no-hitter for his first professional save. Returning to a starting role on Friday for the first time since July 22, the right-hander went a career-long seven innings, holding Cedar Rapids scoreless on six hits while fanning a career-high 11 batters.
South Atlantic League
Adalberto Mejia, Augusta
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 6 K)
Another hurler to join the rotation after months as a reliever, Mejia tossed a season-high eight shutout frames at Delmarva on Friday, allowing five hits while striking out six. While perhaps not his best outing of the year -- he pitched six no-hit innings at Savannah on June 24 -- the 19-year-old southpaw seems to be settling into his starter role and has pitched at least six frames in each of his last four games.
New York-Penn League
Hansel Robles, Brooklyn
(0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 7 K)
The third Mets prospect to take home top pitcher honors this week, Robles carried a perfect game into the eighth inning on Friday night but didn't get the win. The right-hander, who turns 22 Monday retired the first 23 batters he faced before yielding a two-out single in the eighth. Unfortunately, his Cyclones went their first eight innings without a hit but collected two in the ninth to scratch out a 1-0 win. Robles fanned seven in the game and has allowed four earned runs on 23 hits while striking out 39 in his last 39 innings covering seven starts.
Javier Avendano, Vancouver
(1-0, 1.64 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 11 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 15 K)
Avendano earns this award for the second time this season, but with the exception of a rough outing on July 11, he was a contender in each of the other six weeks. The 21-year-old right-hander fanned a season-high 10 batters over six innings at Tri-City on Monday, then held visiting Yakima to one hit -- a solo homer -- in five frames Saturday night. Avendano is 5-1 and leads the Northwest League with a 1.55 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 58 innings. He's allowed more than one earned run in just one of his 11 starts.
Daniel Minor, Greeneville
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 11 K)
Minor closed out July with the worst outing of his brief pro career, allowing six runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings at Bluefield on July 30. Since then he's been nearly unhittable. After six scoreless two-hit frames against Johnson City on Aug. 4, the right-handed Minor held host Princeton to one hit over seven innings while fanning a career-high 11 batters on Friday night. Reliever Tanner Bushue closed out the one-hit shutout with two hitless frames to give Minor his first win as a pro.
Jared Ray, Missoula
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 5 K)
Fellow Texan Ray has faced Helena in each of his last three starts. As he and the Brewers have gotten to know each other better, the 23-year-old right-hander has taken the upper hand. Ray allowed four earned runs over six innings in a loss on July 30, struck out a career-high 11 in a win on Aug. 4, and held Helena to four hits over seven shutout frames on Thursday. He struck out five and did not walk a batter while earning his third pro win in 10 outings.