Austin Malinowski was named Pitcher of the Week in the Appalachian League today. The 20-year old lefty, and Minnesota native, threw a combined seven shutout innings in three appearances between August 12th-18th with nine strikeouts, no walks and just two hits allowed. He picked his second win of the year on Sunday but his best outing was last Thursday when he struck out six of the nine batters he faced in three perfect innings.
For Malinowski last week was merely an extension of what he’s been doing since Elizabethton’s season kicked off on June 20th. He gave up three earned runs in his second appearance of the year (6/26) but has only allowed five earned runs in 28.0 innings since. Overall on the year he has a 2.32 ERA and 1.10 WHIP while striking out 32 and walking 15.
Minnesota’s 2011 16th round selection out of Centennial HS (Circle Pines, MN) had a solid debut season with the GCL Twins last year. His 2012 campaign included a 2.27 ERA and 32-11 SO-to-BB in 31.2 IP. However, he gave up more than a hit per inning (9.9 H/9). This was certainly an area of concern, especially for a projectable pitcher who topped out at 90 mph on his fastball and needed to improve his secondary offerings at the time he was drafted.
While he clearly has a long road ahead of him the 6’4″ 210 lb lefty has nearly chopped his hit rate in half. After surrendering 35 in the GCL last season, he’s allowed just 19 in the Appy League this year. Malinowski has thrown almost exactly the same number of innings that he did last season and he’s pitching against more advanced competition this time around. His control has also improved significantly as 2013 has rolled on. In June he walked 7 offset but only 3 strikeouts. July saw his SO-to-BB improve to 14-6 and in August it’s taken yet another step forward and is currently 15-2.
While with the GCL Twins, Malinowski split time between the bullpen and the rotation with six of his 11 appearances as a starter. However before you jump to the conclusion that his numbers have improved this year because he’s been used strictly as a reliever, his 2012 splits tell a different story:
- Starter: 19.0 IP, 2.37 ERA, 19 H, 7 BB, 19 SO
- Reliever: 13.0 IP, 2.08 ERA, 16 H, 4 BB, 13 SO
As you can see in many ways there wasn’t an appreciable difference between his numbers based on his role last season. He gave up a few more hits out of the pen, had a slightly better walk rate and a slightly lower ERA with an essentially* identical SO/9. As a starter the opposition had a lower BA, OBP and SLG than as a reliever (0.644 vs 0.708 OPS).
*His splits total 32.0 IP but several sites have him throwing 31.2 IP during 2012. I’m not sure where the phantom 0.1 inning is coming from.
After four Minnesota farmhands won player or pitcher of the week honors last week, Malinowski stands alone this time around.