Portland Pitcher of the Year

Summary: The San Diego Padres Triple-A affiliate rarely found a consistent rotation that could be relied upon to stop the bleeding. Most of the success here came from moving parts that were transitioned in and out.

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 Triple-A level is fast becoming a combination of development and a taxi squad for major league teams. At this level, there are many players that are good enough to be in the major leagues, just not in the organization they are currently with.

Savage Sub-Rosa

Pitcher of the Year:
Cory Luebke
5-0, 2.97 ERA
Left-handed starter

The southpaw has been on the quick path to the majors since correcting some mechanical flaws in 2007. He allowed two runs or less in five of his starts and one run over his final 18 frames before earning a big league assignment. Luebke held the opposition to a .201 average with the Beavers while posting a 1.02 WHIP. He also went 5-1 with a 2.40 ERA in Double-A and has an inside track on a starting slot heading into 2011.

Runner-up:
Scott Munter
4-1, 2.66 ERA
Right-handed reliever

After giving up eight earned in his first seven outings, Munter allowed 14 earned across his next 42 appearances, posting a 2.15 ERA over that span. He allowed 57 hits in 71 innings with a scoreless streak of 18 frames during one stretch. He also had a 1.69 ERA at home while keeping the opposition to a .203 mark with runners in scoring position.

Conniff Confidential

Pitcher of the Year:
Cory Luebke

Luebke was 10-1 between San Antonio and Portland and emerged as the most likely candidate to be in the Padres' rotation in 2011. The lefty keeps everything down and is a ground ball machine. With Portland in 57.2 innings pitched and nine starts, he allowed only 42 hits and 22 runs. In his last three starts before being called-up, he allowed only one earned run.

Runner-up:
Scott Munter

Munter, 30, is another one of the Padres' industrial size pitchers coming in at 6-foot-6. 260 lbs. If the organization did not have the depth that it did in the bullpen, he would have been in the majors. With runners on, batters could only manage a .191 batting average.

Others of Note: Ernesto Frieri used up his prospect status with a phenomenal year between Portland and San Diego. He notched a 1.43 ERA with 17 saves for the Beavers and has continued the excellence with the Friars. Will Inman was having a solid campaign before going down with an elbow strain in early June. Luis Perdomo used his sinker to induce groundouts and provided capable relief in key situations. Cesar Ramos found more consistency after being sent to the pen and was rewarded with a trip back to the rotation where he was much sharper.

Manager's Comments: "He can get it up to 93 but the improvement that I really saw this year was the feel to the game that he had; reading hitters swings and learning how to add and subtract on the ball." – Portland Beavers manager Terry Kennedy on Cory Luebke.

Top Prospect: Cory Luebke.

Since changing his motion to stand taller in his follow through, Luebke has been dynamite. He has good downward plane to his pitches and works in the low-90s, touching 94 mph. His secondary pitches have come along to a point where he can mix three quality offerings to keep hitters off-balance. Luebke has the right demeanor and isn't fazed by competition. His ability to consistently hit the strike zone makes him an ideal candidate to begin his big league career in earnest next year.

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