No one really votes on the highest honors in the minor leagues -- those national awards that can thrust a young baseball player into the national spotlight.
And that's only fair in the case of Jhoulys Chacin, because if the Colorado organization's 20-year-old whiz kid of a right-hander isn't named minor league pitcher of the year, no recount could do him justice.
Chacin threw another (ho-hum) five scoreless innings Thursday, allowing only three hits to get the victory in Modesto's 6-2 win over Stockton at John Thurman Field. He's 8-2 in 11 starts with Modesto after going 10-1 in 16 starts with Low-A Asheville.
Combine those marks and Chacin is 18-3 with a 2.03 ERA. This latest victory made him the first pitcher at any level of the Colorado organization -- including the majors -- to win 18 games in a season.
"I didn't know about that," Chacin said, actually blushing at the thought of setting a Rockies' record. "Anywhere I pitch, I just want to do my job. When I do my job, and throw my five innings and do something good, it's a good day."
Chacin remains limited by the Colorado organization to five innings per start. It has nothing to do with soreness or any concern over a pending injury. They just want to protect a valuable right arm.
"He'd have the same kind of success pitching like this at Double A," Nuts pitching coach Butch Hughes said. "To me, the finish on his pitches is not very polished, but other than that, I see no flaws. He's not afraid, and for a 20-year-old he has a good feel for the ball."
The Nuts also are supporting him.
Not only do they have to have the lead when he leaves the game after five innings, but the Modesto relievers have to follow Chacin with solid efforts to preserve the wins.
On Thursday, Chacin was staked to a 5-0 lead after four innings, and relievers Tommy Baumgardner and David Patton finished as the Nuts claimed their second win in two nights against the Ports.
In both games, Modesto came out wearing their black uniform tops -- ones generally reserved for road games. But since they won in black Wednesday, and then again Thursday, guess what they'll be wearing in tonight's homestand finale?
"Are you kidding? Of course," Nuts manager Jerry Weinstein said. "But it ain't the black uniforms, it was Jhoulys Chacin and Tommy Baumgardner coming up big for us, and Jason Van Kooten."
After the Nuts got to Stockton starter Graham Godfrey (5-7) for an unearned run in the second, Van Kooten doubled and scored in the third, then launched a three-run, two-out homer in the fourth for a 5-0 lead. Mike Paulk homered in the seventh, as Modesto scored all six runs with two outs.
It was more than enough support for Chacin, who generally doesn't need much, no matter the level. He figures to get two more regular-season starts for the Nuts, unless they clinch a playoff berth early enough to allow Weinstein to skip Chacin's second start to allow him to appear in the best-of-three first-round series.
The when and where doesn't seem to matter to Chacin, who just wants to pitch.
"The hitters up here are better than Asheville, but I'm doing the same things," he said. "I'm throwing my pitches low in the strike zone, I'm throwing inside with my sinker and my changeup.
"I don't know about 20 wins. If I throw good and the team is hitting those days, maybe."
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.