The Pacific Coast League announced Monday that Reno Aces infielder Christian Walker and Memphis Redbirds right-hander Daniel Poncedeleon have been tabbed as the Player and Pitcher of the Week for the period of July 9-15, 2018.
Coming off the Triple-A All-Star break, Walker delivered clutch hits to help the Aces sweep a four-game series of first-place El Paso. He homered in each of the first three games of the set, driving in eight runs. The reigning PCL MVP hit .333 (5-for-15), totaled 14 bases, scored four runs and posted a 1.308 OPS. In the opener of the series on July 12, Walker hit a two-run homer, part of a two-hit day, in Reno’s 8-2 victory. Two days later, Walker had game-winning home runs in both ends of a doubleheader. In the first game, he gave Reno a first inning lead they would never relinquish with a two-run homer; Walker finished the contest with two hits and three RBI. The Pennsylvania native followed by hitting a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth inning of game two, lifting the Aces to a 4-1 win.
Walker, in his second year in the Arizona organization, has bounced between Reno and the Major Leagues all season. In 52 games with the Aces, the 27-year-old has picked up where left off last season, hitting .287 (58-for-202) with 13 homers and 44 RBI, while posting a .894 OPS. He has been recalled to Arizona on four separate occasions this year, playing in a combined 20 games with the Diamondbacks. Walker was the PCL’s MVP a season ago after posting Minor League Baseball’s only season of at least 30 homers, 100 RBI and 100 runs (32 HR, 114 RBI, 104 runs). The seventh-year professional spent the first five years of his career in the Baltimore Orioles organization. This is his eighth career Player of the Week award, having most recently been honored by the PCL for the period of April 6-16, 2017 after hitting four home runs with 16 RBI.
Poncedeleon tossed the PCL’s first nine-inning, one-hit complete game shutout since August 9, 2016 (Jharel Cotton, Nashville) with his performance at Omaha on July 15. He struck out five, walked only two and threw 77 of his 110 pitches for strikes in Memphis’ 8-0 victory. The only hit Poncedeleon surrendered was a one-out double in the second inning. After a two-out walk in the third inning, Poncedeleon set down 19 of the final 20 hitters, including 18 in a row at one point. It was the fourth nine-inning complete game shutout in the PCL this season and the first for Memphis since Jerome Williams accomplished the feat on June 11, 2016.
The 26-year-old’s week began by pitching in his first career Triple-A All-Star Game. Poncedeleon struck out the side in the third inning of the PCL’s 12-7 win. The native of California has made 18 appearances (17 starts) with Memphis this season and has nine wins, a 2.15 ERA (92.0 IP, 22 ER) and 103 strikeouts, each of which is the second-best mark in the League. He has also held opposing hitters to a PCL-low .198 average (66-for-334), while sporting a 1.24 WHIP. In his fifth season in the St. Louis organization after getting drafted by the Cardinals in 2014, Poncedeleon received his first career Major League call-up this year, less than 13 months after taking a line drive off the head in a start at Iowa and needing emergency brain surgery. This is his first career Pitcher of the Week.