Myrtle Beach, SC - From the Myrtle Beach Pelicans:
FREDERICK, MD – Myrtle Beach Pelicans pitcher J.J. Hoover has been named Pitcher of the Week in the Carolina League for the period of May 24-30.
The award is the first for Hoover this season and the second such accolade bestowed on a Pelicans starting pitcher this season, as Hoover joins Randall Delgado who claimed the honor from May 3-9.
Hoover only made one start over the period of his award, but it was a dazzling one. On May 29, the big right-hander from Elizabeth, Pennsylvania silenced the Wilmington Blue Rocks over eight innings, matching a season-long outing for a Pelicans pitcher while earning the victory in an eventual 9-1 win. Hoover scattered five hits over those eight frames and became the second on a current four-game streak of Pelicans starters not issuing a walk.
The spotless effort was merely the capstone of a brilliant stretch for Hoover.
After making some mechanical adjustments prior to his May 7 start at Lynchburg, the righty has looked like the dominant hurler he was in the South Atlantic League a year ago. Over his past four starts dating back to May 12 versus Kinston, Hoover has tossed 27 total innings and has allowed just two earned runs, good for a mind-bending 0.67 ERA.
Furthermore, the Calhoun (AL) Community College product has reclaimed his signature command, striking out 23 batters over those four starts while dealing just four total walks. J.J. has lowered his opponents' batting average from .355 after that May 7 outing at Lynchburg to .274 following his Saturday victory over Wilmington.
Hoover entered this season as the 11th-best prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization according to Baseball America. A tenth-round selection in the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Hoover moved to the Rome Braves rotation from the bullpen in early May of last year and put together a very good sophomore professional campaign.
With a sluggish offense backing him, the 6-3, 230-pound right-hander still managed a 7-6 record with a 3.35 ERA over 25 appearances (18 starts) in Rome. Hoover was named to the South Atlantic League All-Star team last year and was named the Braves organizational Rome Pitcher of the Year.
Baseball America heaped praise on Hoover prior to this season, comparing his build to Tom Seaver and Roger Clemens and highlighting "impressive control that helped him limit his walks to 1.7 per nine innings in ."
The honor for Hoover is just the latest outward example of the recent success of a resurgent Myrtle Beach pitching staff. After a troublesome April, Pelicans pitchers have hit a simultaneous groove since the middle of May.
Myrtle Beach pitchers posted a 3.35 ERA as a staff in the season's second month, nearly halving their 6.44 team mark in April. Hoover was one of three Myrtle Beach starters with at least three starts in May to post a sub-3.00 ERA (along with Randall Delgado and top Braves pitching prospect Julio Teheran). Pelicans rotation members have not walked an opposing hitter since Thursday's series finale with the Lynchburg Hillcats and have tabulated a 1.96 staff ERA over their last 14 games. Dating back to the team's May 18 series opener at Winston-Salem, the Pelicans have had a starter go at least six innings in 13 of those 14 affairs even including spot starter Yeliar Castro who tossed six at Wilmington on May 22. Five times since the 18th, Pelicans starters have gone seven innings after not having hit that mark in the season's first 37 games, and three times, a starter has completed eight including yesterday afternoon's brilliant franchise record-tying 14-strikeout performance from Teheran. Though the Pelicans are just 6-8 over that span, they have won their last three games, matching a season-long winning streak.
Delgado picked up Carolina League Pitcher of the Week honors for May 3-9 after allowing two runs over 12 total innings and picking up his first Advanced Class A victory over the Potomac Nationals on May 4. The 20-year-old right-hander made two starts in his award period and struck out 16 opponents against just three walks during the span.
Myrtle Beach continues its three-game series against the Frederick Keys Tuesday night at Harry Grove Stadium. Lefty Matt Crim (2-3, 4.35) will get the ball for manager Rocket Wheeler's club against Frederick righty Oliver Drake (1-1, 4.19) with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM. The Pelicans return to Myrtle Beach on June 7 for the first of three against the Winston-Salem Dash.