Level: The Arizona League is the lowest level of the minor leagues in the states. Typically the types of players that are at this level are young Latin American players, high school draftees and second tier college picks. If they play well a few will get an opportunity to play next year in Fort Wayne and some of the others will go to extended spring training next year followed by a trip to Eugene in the Northwest League.
Pitcher of the Year:
4-0, 2.45 ERA
Schrader, 23, struck out 48 batters in 51.1 IP against only 10 walks in eight starts. The former Southwest Minnesota State Mustang was a 39th-round draft pick this year by the Padres and has good size at 6'3", 210 lbs. Schrader ended his career as Southwest Minnesota's all-time leader in strikeouts, games started, while finishing second in innings pitched. He got called up to Lake Elsinore and pitched well in his first two starts before struggling in his last two. He had a nice year, but is going to have to move quickly through the lower minors to have a chance.
3-2, 3.06 ERA
San Diego selected Mark Hardy, 22, in the 43rd-round out of the University of British Columbia. At 6'4", he has good size and put some good numbers in the AZL, with a 31-to-4 K-to-BB ratio in 32.1 innings pitched and also performed well in Eugene with 28 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched. Additionally, he made a spot start in San Antonio at the end of the season. He should be a strong candidate for the Fort Wayne rotation next year.
Player of the Year:
With fewer hits than innings pitched and a 2-to-1 ground-to-fly ball ratio that produced six double play grounders, Schrader dominated Arizona without allowing a long ball. He allowed two runs or less in five of his eight starts, pounding the zone while striking out nearly a batter an inning.
The Canadian southpaw allowed one earned or less in four of his six outings while forcing contact, oftentimes resulting in ground balls with a 2.69 ground-to-fly ball ratio. He limited the leadoff hitter of the inning to a .121 on-base percentage, shutting down the opposition before they could manage a rally. As mentioned, he handled Eugene as well. His ability to mix his pitches is mature.
Others of Note: Jeury Castillo, 21, was 0-1 with a 2.96 ERA striking out 29 against 13 walks in 24.1 innings pitched. Al Angelucci, 22, was impressive in only allowing seven earned runs in 22.2 innings pitched but struggled with his command with a 18-to-22 K-to-BB ration. Eugenio Reyes struggled, walking 26 and hitting nine in 52 innings while going 2-6. Juan Herrera continues to walk to many, issuing 30 free passes in 42.2 frames. Stalyn Valdez had a quality season, posting a 3.83 ERA in 42.1 innings.
Manager's Comments: "His mental makeup – he goes out every day and expects to win. He has that edge a pitcher needs on the mound." – AZL Padres manager Kory DaHaan on Mark Hardy.
Top Prospect (John): Mark Hardy.
He's young, has good size and is left-handed with average velocity. Hardy has shown decent command, so the basics are there. Now the question is how much can he improve upon what he brought into professional baseball. One thing that will improve his stock is gaining strength, perhaps adding a few ticks to his heater along the way.
Top Prospect (Denis): Eugenio Reyes.
The numbers say he didn't do a whole lot, but Reyes was playing in his first year in the states, playing much of the year at 19. He has a plus fastball but lacks consistency in command of the heater and his secondary pitches. Reyes, however, could go the way of a Simon Castro once he develops repeatable mechanics. Right now, he will miss big and catch too much of the plate. Things could change quickly for the right-hander.
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