San Antonio Missions Pitcher of the Year

Brandon Gomes

Summary: Despite playing in one of the best pitcher's parks in minor league baseball, the Missions struggled to find consistency on that front throughout the season. Ernesto Frieri, Will Inman, and Cesar Carrillo showed some promise as starters while the Missions' bullpen led by Brandon Gomes and Evan Scribner was able to keep the team competitive.

Overview: We used a simple formula for the awards, whichever team the player appeared at the most determined their eligibility. For the top prospect, we took into account of not what the players did this year, but their age and ability to improve.

Level: The Double-A represents the biggest jump in the minor leagues, and this is especially true of the Texas League where there are only eight teams and after 140 games everyone knows what everyone else can do. This is the last stop for many top pitching prospects, and San Antonio, with a big wind blowing in from left field, is by far the toughest spot to hit in the organization, and conversely, it's also a really good place to pitch.

Conniff Confidential

Pitcher of the Year:
Brandon Gomes
4-1, 2.63 ERA
Right-handed reliever

Gomes, 24, had a 100-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio and allowed only 54 hits in 72 innings pitched. The 5-foot-11 right-hander was brutal on righties, holding them to a .190/.265/.299 line. Overall, he held Texas League batters to a .206 mark, which was the best of any pitcher that was there for the full season. The 17th-round pick out of Tulane in 2007 changed his arm slot this year and not only got more movement, but added velocity. Best number: with runners in scoring position, batters hit .197 against him.

Runner-Up:
Ernesto Frieri
10-9, 3.59 ERA
Right-handed starter

Frieri, 24, was the best starter on the team this year, leading the team in wins and strikeouts. His strikeout-to-walk ratio wasn't that great at 118-to-62, and he could give up the big hit, with 13 home runs allowed, which was the second highest on the team, but he usually found a way to keep his team in the game throughout the season. With runners in scoring position, batters hit only .214 against him and were worse with the bases loaded at .154. His secondary pitches have improved but he needs to find consistent command of his plus fastball to be effective.

Savage Sub-Rosa

Pitcher of the Year:
Brandon Gomes
4-1, 2.63 ERA
Right-handed reliever

A reliever who strikes out 100 batters is impressive. Gomes fanned 12.5 batters per nine innings – the top mark in the Texas League amongst all pitchers. Gomes also led all of minor league baseball with 65 appearances, showing his true value to the team. He stranded 12-of-18 inherited runners and held the leadoff hitter of an inning to a .183 average against. Gomes used his fastball to get ahead of hitters and then buried them with a tremendous splitter – a wipeaway pitch that was hard to differentiate from his other offerings. By the time the hitter realizes the split is on the way, the bat is catching nothing but air.

Runner-Up:
Ernesto Frieri
10-9, 3.59 ERA
Right-handed starter

The right-hander was the stopper in the San Antonio rotation. When things weren't going well, the Missions could count on Frieri to stop the bleeding. He allowed two runs or less in 17 starts. Take away one outing where he allowed eight runs and his ERA was at 3.24. Six of the homers he surrendered came in August, a time when he seemed to tire. When he spots his mid-90s fastball, Frieri is tough to beat. His secondary pitches are still question marks, as evidenced by his high walk totals. Frieri likely profiles better as a reliever where he can let it all loose and come in with his slider and changeup.

Others of Note: Will Inman, 22, performed well San Antonio with a 3.40 ERA and a 59-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but struggled in Portland. If Inman can get his mechanical issues straightened out, he has a chance. Closer Evan Scribner, 24, had good overall numbers with an 8-4 record and 3.07 ERA. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was good with at 77-to-20, but he was much better in the first half, 4-1, 2.02 and 13-for-15 in save opportunities, compared to the second, 4-3, 4.15 ERA and only converting 8-of-15 save chances. Cesar Carrillo, 25, came back from Tommy John surgery with his velocity, but not the pinpoint control that made him a number one draft pick in 2005. He was 8-4 with a 4.24 ERA, but didn't miss many bats with only 57 strikeouts in 121 innings.

Manager's Comments: "I mean he gets ground balls. He doesn't throw fly balls. He kept the ball down. His last 10, 12 starts were all very consistent." – Terry Kennedy on Cesar Carrillo.

Top Prospect (John): Will Inman

Inman has the ability and the stuff to be an effective starter on the major league level. The whole question with him, more than any other pitcher in the Padres' system, is to find the right mechanics and the ability to repeat them. He flashes a solid fastball that gets on top of hitters quickly because of the deception in his delivery and has a plus curveball. When his mechanics aren't crisp, his ball tends to elevate – giving hitters a chance to shoot the ball out of the park. He has worked to contact more this year after nibbling a tad too much the year before in search of the strikeout.

Top Prospect (Denis): Cesar Carrillo

While it's true that Carrillo had some struggles in his return to Double-A, the right-hander also had some positives that make some believe it is a matter of time before he returns to top prospect form. Abandoning his two-seam for a four-seam fastball, Carrillo found success and better control. With his velocity back up in the mid-90s, bringing back the two-seamer next year with consistency will be essential to his success. He still has a quality changeup that he uses to get ground ball outs, getting hitters to roll over on the pitch and flashes a quality curveball.

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