Pitchers of the Month: May

The San Antonio Missions Casey Kelly was one of the big pieces in the Adrian Gonzalez trade is coming on in his second full season of pitching while young Keyvius Sampson is tearing up the Midwest League at twenty.

Tucson RHP/SP Jon Leicester 2-0 3.86 ERA

While the PCL is a great place to rave about hitters it is absolutely brutal on pitching. Leicester was the only pitcher to have an ERA below 4 and only RHP Scott Munter in the bullpen had an ERA below 3. Leicester in 28 innings pitched allowed only 12 earned runs and held the opposition to a .255 batting average. He didn't have a great K/ BB ratio of 14/12 but still was the most effective in limiting damage before going on the DL with a groin strain.

Prospect Watch: LHP Wade LeBlanc pitched better than his 5.79 ERA indicated with a 4-1 record. A bad outing at the end of the month where he gave up 9 earned in four and third drove up his ERA. He posted a good K/BB ratio of 36/11 in 37.1 innings pitched and is still the first in line for an emergency starter. RHP Scott Munter, who pitched well last year in Portland, was the best in the pen with a 2.35 ERA in 15.1 IP as the opposition hit only .246 against him, which as with Leicester, is a minor miracle in the PCL. RHP/SP Will Inman was also better than his 1-3 record indicated with 37 strikeouts in 30.2 IP against only 14 walks. He just was a little hittable with 46 hits but still held batters to a .258 average.

Disappointments: RHP/RP Luis Perdomo struggled in the closer role with a 6.39 ERA and three blown saves in five chances.

San Antonio RHP/SP Casey Kelly 2-1 3.60 ERA

In six starts Kelly only gave up 14 earned runs in 35 innings, averaging nearly six innings an outing. While he posted a good 27/10 K/BB ratio, the strength of his game is getting batters to pound his sinker/two-seamer into the ground. Additionally with such an easy motion he has surprising velocity on his four-seamer which comes in around 90 to 92.

Prospect Watch: RHP/Closer Brad Brach was 7 for 7 in save opportunities, which is really the only stat that he and others closers care about. But of course we are interested in so much more. Brach struck out 21 batters in 15.2 innings against only 3 walks and 12 hits. RHP/SP Anthony Bass was 3-2 with a 4.20 ERA before being called up to Tucson when Leicester went on the DL. Bass whose velocity has again picked up this year had 36 Ks in 30 IP against only 10 walks. As opposed to Kelly, Bass is a little more of a power pitcher with a four-seam fastball that sits between 92 to 94 MPH. RHP/SP Jorge Reyes has tremendous upside and was nearly as good as Bass and Kelly with 2-1 record and 3.71 ERA. He had 28 strikeouts in 26.2 IP against only 9 walks. RHP/RP Nick Vincent gets very little publicity, all he really does is perform. Vincent struck out 20 batters in 13.2 innings against only 4 walks and only allowing 4 earned runs. Currently he is second in the Texas League in holds.

Disappointments: RHP/RP Eddie Kunz who was traded for 1b Allen Dykstra just before the season had a 7.15 ERA. The huge former 2007 first round pick from Oregon State was hit at a .383 clip in May.

Lake Elsinore RHP/Closer Miles Mikolas 1-0 1.76 ERA

The Padres have always liked the potential of Mikolas, a 6'5" 230 lbs. pitcher especially after they moved him to the pen last year where they thought they could take advantage of his velocity and a nice 12-6 curve. Mikolas struck out 16 in 15.1 innings pitched against only 9 hits and 4 walks. Cal League batters hit an anemic .170 average against him and he was 4 for 5 in save opportunities.

Prospect Watch: RHP/SP Matt Lollis was 2-0 in six starts but also had an ERA of 5.86. His strikeout numbers are still good with 25 in 27.2 innings but he seems to be missing with his command giving up 15 walks and allowing 34 hits. LHP Pedro Hernandez was 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA posting a very good 18/4 K/BB ratio in three starts and seven overall appearances.

Disappointments: RHP/SP Jerry Sullivan had a rough month with a 1-2 record and 7.76 ERA allowing 23 earned runs in 26.2 innings pitched.

Fort Wayne RHP/SP Keyvius Sampson 3-0 2.87 ERA

If you don't really know who Sampson is, you should and will soon. Sampson was the pitcher of the month in April and followed it up with another stellar performance in May. He allowed only 10 earned runs in 6 starts while striking out 28 in 31.1 innings allowing only 26 hits and 9 walks. At 6' he's not the biggest pitcher but very athletic with long arms which create quite a bit of deception and good velocity. His athleticism allows him to repeat his delivery consistently and his secondary pitches, curve and change-up are getting better and better. Before getting hurt toward the end of last season in Eugene he was as good as anyone on the staff. Midwest League batters are hitting .176 against him for the year.

Prospect Watch: RHP/SP Zach Cates, a third round pick in the 2010 draft, posted a 22/11 K/BB ratio allowing only six earned runs in five starts. RHP Matt Jackson had a ridiculous 22/1 K/BB ratio to go along with a 2.12 ERA. RHP/SP Matthew Branham was 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA with a 23/5 K/BB ratio in 24 innings. Finally closer Adam Dominick was 4 for 4 in save opportunities with 1.98 era and a 13/2 K/BB ratio.

Disappointments: RHP/SP Adys Portillo had a good 24 strikeouts in 19.1 innings against only 15 walks but giving up 20 earned runs in 19.1 innings is hard to recover from. In five starts in May he was unable to go five innings in any of his starts.

Pitcher of the Month: Keyvius Sampson

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