By Andrew Green
Tennessee Smokies right-handed reliever P.J. Francescon has been named the Southern League-BC Relief Pitcher of the Month for the month of June, as announced by the Southern League of Professional Baseball on Monday afternoon.
The 26-year-old did not allow a run over his eight appearances during the month of June, compiling a 1-0 record, while notching saves in each of his four opportunities. Opposing batters combined to accumulate just a .185 batting average against the Tennessee native, while Francescon also tallied a 1.12 WHIP in that time frame.
Francescon has enjoyed a stellar season out of the Smokies bullpen this year, posting a 2-0 record and 0.61 ERA (2 ER in 29.2 IP), allowing a run in just two of his team-leading 25 appearances. The righty has also successfully converted 12 of his 13 save chances, including each of his last ten dating back through May 6, while opponents have tallied a .202 batting average against (21-104) throughout the course of the 2015 campaign.
Coming into this evening’s play, the two-time Southern League All-Star also ranks second in the circuit in saves (12) and games finished (21), trailing only Jacksonville closer Sean Donatello in both categories. The right-hander was selected by the Cubs in the 40th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Trevecca Nazarene University (TN), and has recorded 16 saves in 20 opportunities throughout his five-year professional career.
Francescon is the first Smokies player to be honored with a monthly award by the Southern League this season, though infielder Dan Vogelbach and former catcher Kyle Schwarber were recognized earlier this year as the Chicago Cubs Minor League Players of the Month for the months of April and May, respectively. Vogelbach is also a two-time winner of the Southern League’s Player of the Week award in 2015, having won the honor in each of the first two time periods the award was handed out for between April 9-20 and April 20-27.