MadFriars' Players of the Month: August

Nick Schulz

Every month, MadFriars looks at the best performers across the Padres’ minor league affiliates. The minor league seasons end just after Labor Day and with the possibility of being called up with the roster expansions in September many players had particularly strong months.

The Padres recalled RHP Joe Wieland, LHP, Robbie Erlin, RHP Leonel Campos along with a few surprises in 2B/3B/CF Cory Spangenberg, LHP/Relief pitcher Frank Garces and RHP/Relief pitcher R.J. Alverez, who came over from the Angels in the Huston Street deal, from San Antonio and C Adam Moore from El Paso.

El Paso Chihuahuas 17-13

After playing their first twenty-four games on the road the Chihuahuas were still able to impressively finish their season with a .500 record at 72-72. Many players at this level made a big push for one of the elusive major league roster spots and 1B/3B Cody Decker hit 11 of his 27 home runs this year in August. Decker finished up the month at .262/.339/.650 with 17 of his 27 hits for extra-bases and led the team with 12 walks. His only real negative was three errors in the seven games that he played at third base.

C Rocky Gale, who many in the organization believe is nearly as talented defensively as Austin Hedges in San Antonio, capped off his best year at the plate hitting .326/.326/.349 for August. If Gale hits anything it’s a bonus because his defense is that good. 2B/3B/SS Jace Peterson is somewhat forgotten, largely because of sporadic playing time in the majors, but he hit very well with a .357/.421/.476 slash line and as was reported in the UT San Diego, he will be seeing some time in the outfield during the Arizona Fall League. CF Rico Noel stole 11 of his 32 bases this month in 12 attempts while hitting .308/.375/.436. Rico finished second overall in the organization in stolen bases.

On the mound RHP Matt Wisler had his best month in AAA with a 3-1 record and 3.60 ERA to go along with a 32/12 strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio. He should have an outside chance of making the big league rotation next spring. RHP/Relief Pitcher Stephen Kohlscheen, who came over in the Chris Denorfia trade with Seattle, struck out 12 batters in 12.2 innings pitched against only one walk for a 1.42 ERA. LHP Jason Lane threw the second most innings on the team this month at 34 to go along with a 3.97 ERA. For the season he led the team with 149.2 and in 79 plate appearances he hit .362/.444/.580. Chihuahua’s manager Pat Murphy also used him as a pinch-hitter/1B. Lane is not going to break any speed guns, but you have to like all of the things that he brings to the table in terms of eating innings and the ability to contribute with the bat. It’s hard to not think that some National League team that could find a place for him next year.

AAA/El Paso Player of the Month: Matt Wisler

San Antonio Missions 11-17

The Missions hit .222 as a team this month, so there really isn’t much to write about offensively. One exception is former Poway High standout OF Alex Dickerson, who joined the team in late July after missing most of the year with a broken ankle. He hit .304/.360/.490 and for the year (34 games) he finished at .321/.367/.496. 3B/2B/CF Cory Spangenberg, who started to play third after not playing there since college, hit .297/.333/.450, before getting the call to San Diego.

RHP Josh Geer was again the workhorse of the staff logging 35 innings and compiling a 2.83 ERA with a 21/6 K/BB ratio. RHP James Needy also finished off his second strong year with a 3.38 ERA in August to go along with throwing 29.1 innings. RHP Justin Hancock should be part of a pretty good rotation next year in El Paso as he threw 25.2 innings for a 3.86 ERA. RHP/Closer R.J. Alverez impressed enough of the Padres’ brass visiting San Antonio to merit a call-up with 14 strikeouts in 10 innings against a pair of walks and accrued five saves in six opportunities. The ERA at 4.50 was a little high, but for a relief pitcher that is essentially one bad outing. Alverez is known as a “full effort” pitcher and has a pretty big four-seam fastball.

AA/San Antonio Player of the Month: Alex Dickerson

Lake Elsinore Storm 13-16

Although the Storm had a losing record this month they were the only team to post an overall winning record of 75-65 and easily qualified for the Cal League playoffs. OF Mallex Smith continued his impressive season with 14 more stolen bases in 17 attempts to give him 88 for the year between Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore; a mark that led all of the minor leagues. This month Smith’s slash line was .323/.427/.430. OF Jeremy Baltz, a second round pick from St. John’s in 2012, had a good month hitting five home runs for a .276/.356/.514 in what has been an off-year for him. SS Jose Rondon and Elliot Morris, two of the four players that came over in the Street trade, continued to perform well hitting .311/.386/.422.

On the mound Morris may have been even better. He led the team in innings pitched with 36 and a 28/7 strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio. The tall right-hander has benefitted from some minor adjustments Storm pitching coach Bronswell Patrick made when he came over from the Angel’s organization and could put up some really big numbers in San Antonio in 2015. Despite a 2-4 record, he struck out 29 batters against only three walks and had a 3.72 ERA in 29 innings in the hitter-friendly California League. Finally, LHP Brandon Alger continued to thrive in the closer’s role with a 0.75 ERA and was a perfect five for five in save opportunities to go along with 15 strikeouts in 12 innings against only two walks.

High-A/Lake Elsinore Player of the Month: Colin Rea

Fort Wayne TinCaps 15-15

The TinCaps began and finished the year with the youngest team in the Midwest League; and many times it showed as they led the minors in errors and were streaky, at one point they lost 13 straight games. However, with their season on the line, Fort Wayne came through and won seven of their last nine games to make it into the playoffs for their sixth straight year.

A big part of their improbable run was the play of undrafted free agent OF Nick Schulz who hit .420/.472/.765 in August. He was second on the team with seven home runs and had 34 hits in 24 games. For the season the twenty-three year old out of San Jose State hit .341/.386/.545 and probably assured himself of an everyday job next year in Lake Elsinore. INF Fernando Perez’s bat continued to dictate that he would be in the lineup somewhere someplace as he saw time at first, second and third while hitting .287/.323/.557. The former Chula Vista native led the team with nine home runs and 32 RBI in August. SS Trea Turner cooled off a little but still hit .298/.382/.447.

On the mound RHP Kyle Lloyd continued his breakout year with a 2.03 ERA in 31 innings to lead the team along with an eye-popping 45 strikeouts against only nine walks. He can still catch a little too much of the plate at times, but the six-foot-four, 225 lbs. Lloyd is what you want to see in a pitcher – a big boy that is going to take the ball every fifth day. 2014 pick RHP Jason Jester out of Texas A&M came on strong out of the bullpen with a 3-0 record and 2.00 ERA. The former Aggie struck out17 batters in 18 innings against only four walks.

Low-A/Fort Wayne Players of the Month: Nick Schulz & Kyle Lloyd

Eugene Emeralds 10-17

It wasn’t a great season in the Pacific Northwest as the Emeralds finished the season at 30-46, which was the second worst record in the league. But at the short-season level, much more than any other level, it is about development and there were some players in Eugene this summer for the Padres.

CF Auston Bousfield, a fifth round selection our of Ole Miss, was by far and away the best offensive player in August as he hit .349/.440/.570 with six stolen bases in eight attempts. OF Yale Rosen also had a solid month hitting only .259 but he led the team in walks with 14 and home runs with four to give him an OPS of .920 that was second to Bousfield’s 1,010.

On the mound RHP Michael Kelly continued his strong comeback this season with 30 strikeouts in 28 innings and most importantly for Michael only six walks for a 2.57 ERA. RHP Zech Lemond got called up to San Antonio for the final weekend and threw four innings of scoreless baseball to build on a solid year he had with the Ems. This month Lemond struck out 23 batters against only three walks in 24.1 innings. As with last month, relief pitcher RHP Seth Lucio continues to impress by striking out more batters than innings thrown and he did it again with 18 strikeouts in ten innings against seven walks. For the season Lucio finished with 46 punch-outs in 27.1 innings for a 2.96 ERA.

Short-Season/Eugene Player of the Month: Auston Bousfield

Arizona League Padres 9-14

CF Michael Gettys was considered by many draft pundits as a bit of a lottery pick; a lot of upside but with big questions on his ability to make consistent contact. All season long Gettys has performed well and saved his best for last with a .302/.315/.488 line as he led the team with nine extra-base hits. 3B Luis Urias also had a nice month hitting .300/.419/.343.

On the mound the AZL is mainly about “stuff”, which usually translates, at his level, velocity. So statistics are not usually a great indicator of how well a pitcher performed but RHP Corey Kimber, a right-hander out of Greensboro, North Carolina that was taken by the team in the 2012 draft but sat out last year with injury, struck out twenty batters in 14.1 innings against “only” 13 walks (that is good in the AZL) could be someone to watch going forward.

Short-Season/AZL Player of the Month: Michael Gettys

August MadFriars’ Player of the Month: Nick Schulz

The race came down between the two Fort Wayne players and in the end Schultz hitting .420 was just too much to not give it to him.

I’m not sure if Nick Schulz is a prospect or how many times his name will appear on end of the year rankings, but for one magical month this summer he was the best player in Midwest League and that is something he will remember for the rest of his life.

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