MadFriars' Pitchers of the Month: July

Burch Smith has had a big year with the Storm

Keyvius Sampson bounces back and Matt Wisler continues to make the case that he was the best pitcher in 2012 on a talented staff in Fort Wayne. The one thing the T-Padres can produce are bullpen guys in Tucson and Lake Elsinore's Burch Smith has another strong month.

In the short-season leagues Justin Hancock is emerging as the ace of a very strong Em's staff and the bonus babies in the AZL endure some growing pains.

Tucson RHP Cory Burns 0-0 0.00 ERA 2 SVs

Looking for a top pitcher in Tucson is similar to looking for the best candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship among the cast of Jersey Shore; not an easy, or even realistic, task. This is not a swipe at the pitching talent with the team, its just nearly an impossible task attempting to perform at the pitcher's park in the PCL south so nearly any negative numbers have to be taken with a huge grain of salt as most hitters are going to launch anything into the wiffle ball like stratosphere of Kind Stadium.

Boxberger had a 0.77 ERA in July.

However Cory Burns' numbers this month are the exception and really will hold up anywhere. In July he struck out 19 against 4 walks and didn't give up a single run in 17.2 innings pitched as he held batters to a .091 batting average before being sent west to San Diego.

Prospect Watch: RHP Brad Boxberger, another star minor league relief pitcher that Josh Byrnes picked up during the winter, also had a solid month with an 0.77 ERA and a 17/3 K/BB ratio in 11.2 innings pitched. Starters RHP Bay Bear with a 2.90 ERA and LHP Colt Hynes at 2.28 had the best overall numbers of anyone who put up 25+ innings but as well as they pitched it would be a stretch to consider either of them candidates for a big league starting rotation soon.

Disappointments: Its not that everyone pitched that well, its just not fair to ding pitchers throwing in pinball machines.

San Antonio RHP Keyvius Sampson 4-1 3.07 ERA

Although this hasn't been the year he or anyone else envisioned, Sampson had a solid month with the Missions striking out 26 against only 4 walks in 29.1 innings pitched.

A good July for Keyvius.

With the exception of one bad outing in Frisco Keyvius was tough on the Texas League holding the opposition to a .223 batting average.

Prospect Watch: LHP/SP Andrew Werner was very good for San Antonio with a 2-0 record and 1.93 ERA and his reward was a trip to Tucson, but it is closer to the big leagues. RHP/RP Daniel Strange struck out 23 in only 13. 1 innings pitched and gave up only three walks in middle relief. RHP/SP Donn Roach continued to pitch well since coming over in the trade with the Angles after being promoted to AA but reached his innings limit and was shut down for the rest of the season but still pitched well in the 14 innings he toed the rubber with a 1.93 ERA. RHP/Closer Jeremy McBryde's ERA was high at 5.45 but for a closer he got the two most important statistics he wanted; 5 for 5 in save opportunites and 15 strikeouts in 12.0 innings pitched.

Disappointments: A tough introduction to the Texas League for Adys Portillo with a 12.15 ERA in two starts.

Lake Elsinore Burch Smith 3-0 1.73 ERA

Smith keeps on producing in the hitter friendly California League with a 34/7 K/BB ratio as held the opposition to .234 batting average in five starts. As MadFriars' Ben Davey pointed out in his interview with Smith he is approaching his innings limit but its been a pretty nice run for the big Oklahoman this season.

Prospect Watch: RHP/SP Matt Andriese had a nice month with a 3.60 ERA and a 30/8 K/BB ratio. RHP/Closer Kevin Quackenbush was 7 for 8 in save opportunities and continued to strike out more batters than innings pitched with a 21/4 K/BB ratio in 15.1 innings.

Another tough month for Matt Lollis.

RHP/RP Jerry Sullivan may have found his niche coming out of the bullpen with a 1.29 ERA and an impressive 25/2 K/BB ratio in twenty-one innings.

Disappointments: Big Matt Lollis is still struggling with his control after being sent down to San Antonio to try starting again. This month he had an anemic 20/17 K/BB ratio and a 5.40 ERA in five starts.

Fort Wayne Matt Wisler 2-0 2.70 ERA

Wisler continues to be one of the better stories this year with another stellar performance. In five starts he struck out 29 against 7 walks in 26.2 innings pitched. The nineteen year old held the opposition to a .160 batting average and should emerge in the off-season as one of the more talked about prospects in the organization.

Johnny Barbato has been light outs since moving to the bullpen.

Prospect Watch: RHP/RP Johnny Barbato continued his dominance out of the bullpen with an 0.45 ERA in 20.0 innings pitched. He gave up only one earned run in eleven games with a 25/8 K/BB ratio. RHP/RP James Needy has a another solid month with a 2.55 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched. LHP/SP Frank Garces was 4.-0 with a 1.78 ERA and despite having a poor 23/15 K/BB ratio still pitched well enough to hold the opposition to a .224 batting average.

Disappointments: RHP Cody Hebner had a tough month with a 6.14 ERA in five starts and followed it up with a suspension in August.

Eugene RHP Justin Hancock 3-1 0.84 ERA

Hancock made the Fort Wayne team out of spring training but struggled initially with the TinCaps before being sent back to extended spring/Eugene.

The best pitcher in Eugene has been Justin Hancock.

He's made up for lost time by being one of the best pitchers on the strongest pitching staff that the Padres have sent to the Northwest League in years.

In five starts, six overall appearances, Hancock struck out 28 against only 9 walks in 32.0 innings pitched as he held the opposition to a .156 batting average. Most impressive statistic was his hits to innings pitched ratio of 17 to 32 as he led the Ems in innings pitched.

Prospect Watch: Indiana Tech's LHP Brandon Alger bounced between starting and relief appearances was successful in both roles as he went 2-1 with a 0.47 ERA and a 15/2 K/BB ratio in 19 innings pitched. Alger was picked in the twenty-sixth round of this year's draft is from a town just south of Fort Wayne, Leo-Cedarville, and his hometown fans should get a chance to see him soon enough. RHP Roman Madrid was solid with a 3-0 record and 2.70 ERA in 16.2 innings pitched. RHP Matt Shepherd appeared in eleven games and left with a 0.57 ERA. Overall the staff was very strong in Eugene for July with a team ERA of 2.76.

Disappointments: The organization released LHP Mike Watt, who was the key prospect in the Greg Maddux trade in 2008 with the Dodgers. In his last appearance on July 8 he last a third of an inning and gave up six runs, four of them earned.

AZL RHP Michael Kelly 0-2 4.26 ERA

The AZL may be the only place worse for pitching than Tucson. Most of the games are played in arguably the hottest place in the United States in summer where if the heat doesn't get you, lack of movement or sink on your ball will.

Michael Kelly was a supplemental first round pick of the team in 2011 put up some nice peripheral numbers with a 16/8 K/BB ratio as he held the opposition to a reasonable .264 batting average. The 6'5" Florida native has tons of potential and took a big step in the right direction with the improvement in his command.

Prospect Watch: The four young Padres‘ high draft picks in 2012 all struggled somewhat with their adjustment to pro ball. LHP Max Fried, RHP Zach Elfin, RHP Walker Weickel and Andrew Lockett all posted ERA's over 4.50 in limited appearances in the desert.

Numbers are truly irrelevant at this level as the recently drafted pitchers are adjusting to new demands on their deliveries and mechanics. The key is getting them out there and preparing them for what could be a very good Fort Wayne staff in 2013.

July Pitcher of the Month: Burch Smith

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