ROUND ROCK, Tx – The Pacific Coast League announced Monday that El Paso Chihuahuas’ third baseman Christian Villanueva and Oklahoma City Dodgers’ right-hander Wilmer Font have been named the League’s Player and Pitcher of the Week for May 15-21.
Villanueva hit .480 over seven games, while Font recorded 25 strikeouts in 12.0 innings, including a record-setting 15-strikeout performance on May 15.
The first-year Chihuahua collected 12 hits, tied for the third most in the PCL last week, with four going for extra bases. He hit three homers, drove in seven, scored eight runs and totaled 22 bases. Villanueva’s .880 slugging percentage was second in the League, while his .519 on-base percentage and 1.399 OPS placed third.
Villanueva’s week was highlighted by a five-hit, five-run performance on May 19 against Oklahoma City. He became only the second player since the start of last season to reach those totals in a game, with Fresno’s Preston Tucker the other to do so on June 30, 2016. In that game, Villanueva also homered and drove in three. The five-hit game was the seventh in the PCL this year.
A day prior, the 25-year-old also homered, collecting three hits and two RBI in a win over Colorado Springs. In total, he hit safely in four of his six starts.
The Mexico native started the season on the disabled list but has played in 17 games since returning, hitting .340 (18-for-53) with four home runs, 12 RBI and 11 runs scored. Villanueva originally signed with the Rangers in August 2008 and spent the first three full seasons in their farm system before getting traded to the Cubs on July 31, 2012.
He has played parts of three seasons in the PCL, between Iowa and El Paso, hitting .250 (183-for-731) with 28 homers and 126 RBI. This is his fifth career Player of the Week award and third in the PCL. He was honored twice in 2015, joining Reno’s Jamie Romak as the only players that season to be awarded multiple times.
In two starts, Font walked only three to his 25 strikeouts, allowed seven hits and four runs in 12.0 innings (3.00 ERA), while limiting batters to a .163 average (7-for-43). His 15 strikeouts against Sacramento May 15 set an Oklahoma City team record and were the most in a PCL start since August 27, 2007 when the River Cats’ Dallas Braden fanned 17 in a three-hit shutout.
Font retired the first 18 hitters that night, 12 via strikeout, before issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh inning. After getting another strikeout, he gave up back-to-back singles, the second plating the only run he allowed, before the striking out the final two hitters he faced.
Font capped his week with a 10-strikeout performance on May 21 at El Paso, giving up three runs and two walks in five innings. It was his third double-digit strikeout game of the season and only the ninth such in the PCL in 2017. Font has fanned 73 hitters in nine starts, the most in Minor League Baseball. He has averaged only 9.96 baserunners-per-9 innings, the third lowest among PCL starters.
The 26-year-old is in his first season in the Dodgers organization and the 10th of his professional career. He came up through the Texas system and was in the Rangers organization until signing with the Blue Jays as a free agent prior to 2016. This is his second career Player of the Week award, previously winning with Double-A New Hampshire in the Eastern League for the period of August 15-21, 2016.