Augusta's Pucetas wins pitching honor

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Augusta GreenJackets ace right-hander Kevin Pucetas was named the winner of Minor League Baseball's Most Spectacular Pitcher Award on Thursday, which goes to the pitcher with the lowest ERA in the minors among full-season teams.

Pucetas - a 6-foot-4, 225-pound 22-year-old from Spartanburg, S.C. - went 15-4 with a 1.86 ERA for the GreenJackets this season in 145Q innings. He struck out 104 batters and walked just 21, displaying remarkable control.

"It feels great to be recognized for doing what I love," Pucetas said in a release.

Pucetas, who also was named the South Atlantic League's Most Outstanding Pitcher, will be presented the trophy and a $7,500 check by former Major League pitcher Rich "Goose" Gossage during the Triple-A championship game in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

The San Francisco Giants drafted Pucetas in the 17th round out of Limestone College last year.

CATFISH HOOK TITLE: The Columbus Catfish, Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, defeated the West Virginia Power 6-0 on Thursday night at Golden Park in Columbus, Ga., to sweep the South Atlantic League championship series.

Left fielder Ryan Royster, a regular season MVP candidate, snapped out of a postseason slump with a three-run home run to left in the fifth inning, and five Columbus pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout.

''This game was a way for me to redeem myself,'' Royster told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

Matt Fields and Cesar Suarez also homered for the Catfish, who finished the postseason with a perfect 5-0 record after sweeping Augusta in the Southern Division championship series.

Game 3 was scoreless after a two-hour rain delay in the third inning, before Fields' and Royster's shots provided a 4-0 lead.

Columbus starter Jeremy Hellickson, who eliminated the GreenJackets, didn't allow a hit in three innings. He didn't pitch after the rain delay, but it didn't matter.

The Catfish outscored Augusta and West Virginia by a combined 34-7 in five games.

The Power had defeated the Hickory Crawdads to win the Northern Division.

Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or steven.l.sanders@augustachronicle.com.


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