Padres' Pitchers of the Month June

Padres' Pitchers of the Month June

In the earlier article we described what type of position player the Padres look for, in this segment we'll go into a brief description for the pitchers.                    

Obviously having a chance to pitch in PETCO Park is a pitchers dream, a large spacious outfield where the heavy sea air makes it very difficult to drive the ball out of the park.

The key for success in this park is to make the hitters beat you, which means a premium is placed on pitchers with control, or "strike throwers". Pitchers such as Chris Young or John Hudgins, whom the Rangers believed were too susceptible to fly balls that would become home runs in Arlington, can have success in San Diego. However in San Diego, Young and possibly Hudgins because of their tight control, are tough because they don't walk many batters and when hitters do make contact the balls tend to go up in the air.

Portland

Cla Meredith
2-0, 0.95 ERA Another month, another middle relief pitcher gets the honors on what has been a sub par starting staff for the Beavers in 2006 with the exception of Mike Thompson, 25. The flip side is that Portland has done a solid job at providing the Padres with effective middle relief pitchers such as Jon Adkins and Brian Sikorski.

In June, Meredith, 23, only allowed 12 hits in 19 innings while striking out 13 and walking only three, holding batters to a .185 batting average. Meredith, a side-arming right-hander is valuable cog in what has turned out to be one of the Padres best trades, a disgruntled backup Doug Mirabelli for Josh Bard and Cla Meredith.

On July 3, Meredith was called up to replace Alan Embree who went on the disabled list.

Incidentally, Mirabelli is hitting .154 for the "Sox".

Prospect Watch: Cesar Carrillo, 22, was shut down until late July and possibly the rest of the season. Jared Wells, 24, struggled in his first two starts before settling down in his third outing, going six innings while only allowing two hits. As we have always opined in the past, Wells has all the talent in the world, but still needs more time for his pitching knowledge to catch up to his ability.

Disappointments: Jack Cassel, 25, just had a brutal month going 1-2 with a 6.43 ERA and allowing a team high 44 hits and 29 runs in 35 innings. He was shipped down to Mobile at the end of June.

Tim Stauffer, 24, had another tough month going 0-3 with a 4.75 ERA. Again the key statistic to look for with Stauffer is the number of hits he allows per innings pitched, which in June was 39 hits in 30.1 innings while allowing 18 runs.

What made Stauffer the number three pick overall pick in 2003 was that his fastball would consistently sit in the low 90's with a great changeup that came in around 80-85. Anyone is going to be very successful when you can make those two pitches.

Only recently has Stauffer been able to hit 93 to 94 with his fastball but he generally sits in the 86-89 range, which makes his breaking pitches less effective. He has a much smaller margin for error at the Triple-A level, let alone for the major leagues.

When asked about Stauffer, Portland Beavers broadcaster Rich Burk stated, "Stauffer doesn't appear to have regained much velocity. His cutter, which looks more like a slider to me, but the pitching coach, Gary Lance, insists it's a cutter, which is good, but not great. He's been better over the past few weeks. Why? According to Lance, he's getting more extension at his release point."

Mobile

Sean Thompson
2-2, 2.25 ERA

All along we've believed that Sean Thompson, 23, is just around the corner from joining Carrillo and Wells as three of the elite starting pitchers the Padres have in the minors. This June he came pretty close to making that club by having his best month to date. In April he had an ERA of 4.87, in May it dropped to 3.89 and in June it sank to 2.25.

Again the hits to innings pitched ratio shows the marked improvement for Thompson allowing 35 hits in 40 innings, the first month where he has allowed less hits than innings pitched. His BB/K ratios were a solid 8/25 and he held batters to a .238 average.

Prospect Watch: John Hudgins, 24, had good peripheral stats (6 BB/ 32 Ks) but catches a little too much of the plate with 32 hits in 28 innings. Mike Ekstrom, 22, didn't come away with a win, but he did have a good month in Mobile with a 2.25 ERA in two starts. In 12 innings, Ekstrom only walked one of the 48 batters that he faced. Ekstrom has been answering questions about his "stuff" his whole career, but so far has been able to win at every level.

Madfriars.com senior writer David Jay, who has seen Ekstrom pitch several times, disputes the notion that he might not have enough "stuff" to reach the higher levels.

"In the few times that I've seen him pitch in Lake Elsinore his fastball has "sat" consistently at 90-91, with very good control," said Jay.

Hudgins replaced Cassel in the Portland staff at the end of the month. Keep an eye on the former Stanford All-American. He has good command of the fastball, change and curve; he just needs to miss a few more bats.

Dale Thayer, 25, saved four out of five games for the BayBears, while striking out ten in eleven innings pitched against 4 walks. Jason Kirksey, the BayBears Director of Baseball Operations, "Thayer is just deceptive, you may not think he had the greatest stuff but he always gets out of the inning and he usually ends up with the save. Before you know it he has 10 or 12."

Also, Roger Deago, at an advanced age of 29, may have an outside chance at landing bullpen job in San Diego next year. Never count out a lefty with a rubber arm that can throw strikes, start or relieve. This month he went 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA, while only allowing 16 hits in 24.1 innings.

Disappointments: Jose Oyervidez, 24, with an 0-3 and 4.45 ERA. The main culprit allowing 17 walks, the team high, in 32.1 innings which is also going to lead to allowing a team high 23 runs.

Lake Elsinore

Brent Carter
2-2, 1.85 ERA
And
Mike Ekstrom
2-1, 0.89 ERA

Ekstrom has been the best pitcher in Lake Elsinore for the whole year. He was promoted to Double-A in mid-June but not before he left his mark on the California League with a 2-1 record and an 0.89 ERA. His lone loss was a six inning outing where he allowed one run against six strikeouts and one walk.

Carter's season has the same trajectory as Thompson's, only June was an even bigger jump for the former Crimson Tide star. In April he had a 6.08 ERA, May 3.68 and in June 1.85 ERA. After hitting well over .300 against Carter in the first two months he held the opposition to a .186 average, while walking only one of 120 batters faced (the other walk was an intentional pass).

Carter, 23, has pinpoint control, but according to Madfriars.com senior writer David Jay, "The organization really wanted him to develop a pitch that he could throw inside to right-handed hitters. Carter really developed his cut fastball in his last three starts which has given him a lot of success."

Prospect Watch: A better month by Cesar Ramos, 22,but he is still behind Thompson and Carter for left-handed starters. In June, he went 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA in five starts, but his peripheral numbers are still troubling, especially a weak BB/K ratio of 7/12 and allowing 31 hits in 31 innings.

Disappointments: Chris Jaile - 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA and a team leading 11 earned runs and 24 his in 18.1 innings.

Editor's note: Last month I mistakenly credited Storm closer Neil Jamison with 9 wild pitches. I inadvertently looked at the wrong column of numbers. Credit goes to Jeff Agnew, Neil's uncle for catching the gaffe and quickly allowing us to change it before the whole world noticed.

Fort Wayne

Josh Geer
3-0, 0.00 ERA

When you start three games, win three games and finish with a flat zero ERA, chances are you are going to receive the Pitcher of the Month. The 23-year old ex-Rice star averaged seven-plus innings in three starts and held batters to a .154 average while walking only four of the 84 batters he faced before earning a promotion to Lake Elsinore.

Prospect Watch: Steve Delabar, 22, the Wizards 6-foot-5 right hander continues to impress, this month with a 2-2 record and a 2.48 ERA. The only possible hiccup is he tends to walk a few (12) too many, but he still struck out 25 in 29 innings while holding batters to a .188 average.

A nice month by Nathan Staggs, 24, whom the Padres signed from the San Diego Surf Dawgs going 3-1 with a 3.06 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 17.1 innings.

Disappointments: Fabian Jimenez, 19 has the most talent, the highest ceiling and is the biggest enigma on the team. This month Fabian went 1-2 with an 8.31 ERA. Again with both Fabian and Joel Santo, 22, the Wizards other enfant terrible, leading the team in walks (16 and 18) usually means you will lead the team in earned runs (16 and 21).

Eugene and the Arizona League

The short-season leagues have just started, so we'll wait until next month to crown the player of the month for the Northwest and Arizona Rookie League.

Contact senior writer John Conniff at conniff@sandiegosports.net

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