MadFriars April Players of the Month

It wasn't hard to find hitters in the first month of the season. John Conniff didn't need to do much to find candidates at 3 of the 4 levels, with a monster month by several blowing away the rest of the competition. Toughest choice being in San Antonio as nearly their entire lineup is hitting over .300

Tucson 1b Anthony Rizzo .400/.471/.744

In the big offseason trade for Adrian Gonzalez Rizzo along with pitcher Casey Kelly were two of the prospects that San Diego demanded to do the deal and so far both looks like the real deal. Rizzo led the team in every offensive category, with the exception of stolen bases, and is among the top performers in the PCL. However as promising as he looks remember this is someone that came into the year with only 459 plate appearances above A ball and that hitting climate in Tucson is assisting him as well. Rizzo hit .468/.545/.894 at home as compared to .308/.351/.519 on the road. Additionally lefties are still giving him problems with an average of .188/.222/.250; but it's a very small sample size of only 17 plate appearances.

He is still San Diego's first baseman of the future and maybe even by the end of the summer. But a little more time in AAA away from home and against tough lefties wouldn't hurt either.

Prospect Watch: Before his tenure in San Antonio, infielder Logan Forsythe looked like a can't miss prospect. He has regained some of the luster with a strong performance in April hitting .313/.429/525 with the biggest gain coming from an increase in power. He has primarily played second, but also third and some shortstop, which he may be playing more off with Everth Cabrera's injury. Utility man Andy Parrino always underrated has picked off where he was last year, playing multiple positions and hitting at all of them with a .412/.444/.618 line in ten games before going on the DL with a hamstring injury. 3b/1b Jesus Guzman is 27 and was with the Giants last year in AAA Fresno before signing with the Padres. He has had good numbers throughout his minor league career, just never really been given a shot. Guzman continued his string of solid performances this month hitting .351/.453/.474 and really killed lefties with a batting average of .611 in 24 plate appearances against them. Finally, OF Aaron Cunningham, who last year played better on the major league level than in the PCL, showed that he still could be a good option in San Diego hitting .284/.356/.511.

Disappointments: Although SS Everth Cabrera led the team with 9 steals in 13 attempts the organization hoped to see an uptick in his plate disciple of more than a .333 OBP in one of the better hitting parks in pro ball. Also five errors in 22 games should be a little better for a former MLB regular.

San Antonio 3b James Darnell .410/.520/.705

Darnell played in 21 of the Missions' 22 games and simply destroyed the Texas League, picking up where he left off last August. He led the team with 32 hits, scored 22 runs and posted a 19/9 BB/K ratio to go along with 15 extra-base hits. His defense has picked up as well and with the exception of three throwing errors in the first ten games he has been flawless.

Prospect Watch: Six players posted a .900 OPS or better, four of them were above 1,000 – so really any of these players would have been a worthy candidate for player of the month. LF Jaff Decker had 27 RBIs in 21 games and 17 extra-base hits, finishing off the month at .316/.449/.759. Only 21 he is one of the brighter prospects not only in San Diego's organization but in all of baseball. CF Blake Tekotte was among the league leaders in batting average (.375), on-base percentage (.474), slugging percentage (.675) and stolen bases (6) while playing one of the better center fielders most people have seen in a long time in San Antonio. Additionally, Tekotte is hitting .471 with runners on and two outs. DH/1b Cody Decker lost some playing time with Kyle Blanks returning to AA but was still among the league leaders RBI's and extra-base hits and finished the month leading all of baseball with 10 home runs. His only negative was 28 strikeouts in 20 games, but if that comes along with 22 RBIs and 15 extra-base hits that is a trade anyone is willing to take. OF Sawyer Carroll is rebounding from a tough 2010 with a solid performance in April hitting 333/.377/.579 and OF Dan Robertson after a slow start did what he usually does; gets on base at a .405 clip and hits with the bases loaded with a .625 batting average. Catchers Kyle Phillips and Ali Solis have provided solid defense and more offense than expected. The switch-hitting Phillips, a native of La Mesa, came over to the San Diego organization last year from Toronto and has hit .344/.362/.500. Solis, while roughly playing every third game, would be starting on about any other team with a .345 batting average and 4 extra-base hits in 9 games. With the injury to Drew Cumberland, SS Beemer Weems was given the chance to play every day. Always a spectacular defensive player Weems has also started to produce with the bat since giving up switch-hitting with a .324/.390/500 line with 16 RBIs in 18 games.

Disappointments: None. The Missions hit .315/.397/.569 as a team in one of the toughest pitchers' parks in all of baseball. 1b Kyle Blanks didn't have the best month but it was also his first time playing since mid-June of 2010. So to ding someone who hasn't played in half a year or spring training would be unfair.

Lake Elsinore 3b/DH Jedd Gyorko .380/.442/.652

Coming into the season Gyorko had some questions about how much pop he actually had. If April is any indicator, then yeah – it's pretty good. In 23 games Gyorko had 35 hits, 15 of them for extra-bases to go along with a team leading 21 RBIs. His BB/K ratio was 11/14 and despite not being the most fleet of foot he led the team in runs scored with 20.

Prospect Watch: 3b/DH Edinson Rincon may be challenged defensively but that certainly doesn't apply to his bat hitting .369/.419/.524. In twelve games at third he had six errors, but four did come in one game. He won't turn twenty-one until mid-August and with a bat like this the organization is going to need to find a place where he feels comfortable, and maybe it will be third once Gyorko is moved up.Catcher Jason Hagerty, 2010 MadFriars player of the year, continues to produce with a .296/.347/.479 line but hit much better at home .364 than on the road with a .233 batting average.

Disappointments: : SS Jeudy Valdez came into the year with high expectation and so far hasn't met them with a .217/.239/.275 line.

Fort Wayne 3b Jake Blackwood .321/.360/.631

The Padres got Blackwood out of the Independent Northern League where he had a big year hitting .331 with 31 home runs after being released by the Marlins early in 2009. Blackwood, 25, is old for the league, but led the TinCaps with 15 extra-base hits, 5 home runs and 12 RBIs. .

Prospect Watch: 1b/DH Tommy Medica, a 14th round pick out of Santa Clara in the 2010 draft, primarily played catcher in college before shoulder injuries hampered his ability to stay there. However everyone always believed in his bat and this month he showed why hitting .323/.397/.523. Before getting injured after six games, CF Donovan Tate was finally looking like the player that was the number three overall player in the 2009 draft hitting .316/435/.421 before a collision with OF Everett Williams knocked him out until June 1. .

Disappointments: SS BJ Guinn struggled at the plate and in the field hitting .189/.250/.216 to go along with 5 errors in 23 games.

April Player of the Month: James Darnell

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