MadFriars' Pitchers of the Month: April

The good news was Tucson's Casey Kelly pitched great in his two starts but hasn't returned to the mound as the team wants to be very careful with a sore elbow. A big reason for the Storm's winning record this month was the solid performances they got from their starters and maybe the best closer in the system.

Tucson: RHP Casey Kelly 0-0 2.25 ERA

After a very good spring Kelly pitched well in his first two starts before being shut down for precautionary reasons with elbow soreness. In two starts with the T-Padres Kelly struck out 14 batters in 12 innings pitched which was good enough to lead Tucson. Additionally he gave up only three runs in with both of his two starts in the hitting utopia of Kino Field in Tucson.

Thayer in one of his stints with former Padres' AA affiliate the Mobile BayBears.

Prospect Watch: I've been writing about the Padres minor leaguers for a some time so it was fun to see San Diego sign RHP Dale Thayer in the off-season. Thayer began his career as an unsigned free agent with the Padres in 2003 with the Fort Wayne Wizards, yes, he's been around that long.

In seven games with the T-Padres, Thayer threw 8.1 innings and only allowed two hits. He struck out five against two walks and gave up no runs which was good enough for the ten-year minor league veteran to earn a ticket to San Diego.

Disappointments: RHP Matt Palmer was 1-2 with a 7.80 ERA and a 10/12 BB/K ratio. In the pen LHP Brian Tallent had a 8.76 ERA as PCL batters hit .365 against him.

San Antonio: LHP Robbie Erlin 0-0 2.87 ERA

Erlin was arguably the best pitcher for the Missions at the end of 2011. Some minor injuries in spring kept him from joining his teammates in Tucson and the organization was pretty careful with his innings load this month. In four starts he struck out 20 batters in 15.2 innings pitched against only four walks. The only negative is that he also gave up 20 hits but also only allowed five earned runs.

Erlin is the top lefty in the Padres' system..

Prospect Watch: Most of us at MadFriars have always been big fans of RHP Jeremy McBryde both as a starter and in relief. This month McBryde took his plus heavy sinker to the Missions' bullpen and struck out 17 batters in 13.2 innings while only giving up a single earned run. RHP Keyvius Sampson was up and down in his first month of AA, a very big jump from the Midwest League, with a 4.50 ERA. Keyvius' stats are mostly a product of a bad outing in Midland were he walked six and gave up five earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched.

Disappointments: LHP Juan Oramas who was coming off of a very good 2011 in San Antonio struggled in April with a 1-3 record and 11.15 ERA. Texas League batters hit .329 against him as he walked 14 batters in five starts and in 15.1 innings.

Lake Elsinore: RHP Matt Jackson 3-1 2.10 ERA

The former LSU Tiger had a great April in the Cal League. In five starts he allowed only seven earned runs, with a stellar K/BB ratio of 23/2 in 30 innings pitched. He allowed more hits (33) than innings pitched (30) but with the exception of one start he went six innings or more every start.

Prospect Watch: Closer RHP Kevin Quackenbush continues to do what he does as well as anyone in the organization, save games. Kevin was 6 for 6 in save opportunities and struck out 13 batters in 10.2 innings against only three walks. RHP Matt Andriese, a third round pick in the 2011 draft, also put up very good numbers with a 2-0 record and 2.41 ERA. Andriese had a 16/2 K/BB ratio in 18.2 innings pitched. Mark Pope, another 2011 college draft pick from last year's Ems team, was 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA and a 17/6 K/BB ratio. Finally, Burch Smith a late round pick out of Oklahoma with a big upside announced his presence with 33 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched against only 3 walks. Smith had a 2-2 record and 3.67 ERA.

Disappointments: None. The staff had a combined 3.06 ERA in the Cal League. Its hard to find any pitcher that put together more than one or two bad outings.

Fort Wayne: LHP Frank Garces 1-1 2.22 ERA

Of the five starters to begin the year in Fort Wayne Garces was the smallest and most unheralded but also put up the best numbers. He struck out 29 against only 12 walks in five starts as Midwest League batters could only manage a paltry .156 batting average against him.

Barbato has thrived since moving to the pen.

Prospect Watch: The Padres moved RHP John Barbato into the pen and it seems to be paying off as the former Florida high school star posted a 3-0 record to go along with a 1.26 ERA. In 14.1 innings pitched he struck out 14 batters against only 5 walks and 9 hits. RHP Cody Hebner, who certainly has one of the more interesting personalities of anyone in the organization, was 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five starts. Although Hebner is a rail thin 5'11" he can bring the heat and has touched 97 MPH this year as he posted a 27/6 K/BB ratio in April. Most people in Fort Wayne have also been impressed with the improvement of RHP Adys Portillo who struck out 26 in 24.1 innings pitched but still walked a few too many at 14. However, he is only twenty and is a horse at 6'4" 235 lbs.

Disappointments: RHP Michael Kelly, a first round supplemental pick in the 2011 draft, struggled in his first month of pro ball with a 6.92 ERA, walking 14 batters in 13 innings pitched.

Pitcher of the Month: Matt Jackson

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