George Kirby Top Starter Award
The starters across the system were shoving this past week. Emerson Hancock fired six strong innings against Corpus Christi. Marcelo Perez flashed his upside for Modesto taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Even youngster Kristian Cardozo stepped up in the ACL, earning his first stateside win. This week we'll give the hardware to the recently promoted Brandon Schaeffer. We wrote about him a couple of weeks ago as a possible promotion candidate, and he didn't disappoint in his debut with the Aquasox.
The University of North Carolina alum has a deceptive delivery with a nasty slider he can spot on both sides of the plate. Schaeffer took the California League by storm, leaving the circuit in the Top 10 in earned run average, batting average against, and strikeouts. If you are looking for comparisons, I will throw out former Mariner lefty James Paxton. Schaeffer doesn't have the upper 90s heat, but he can ratchet it up to the mid-90s and snap off sliders and curveballs with the best of them.
The lanky lefty should front the Aquasox rotation for the remainder of the 2023 campaign with a chance to rise quickly through the final rungs of the organizational ladder in 2024.