Padres' 2011 NWL Pitcher of the Year

Summary: The Emeralds got the type of pitching one would expect from a team with the best record in the Northwest League: solid. John Barbato was considered the top prospect and, although he struggled with consistency at times, ended up showing flashes of the potential that earned him the big signing bonus in 2010.

Early 2011 draft picks Matt Andriese and Cody Hebner both put up solid numbers and San Diego may have added to its wealth of talented bullpen pitchers in Kevin Quackenbush and Matt Stites to go along with some solid late round finds in Jeremy Gigliotti and Colin Rea.

Overview: We used a simple formula for the awards. Whichever team the player appeared for most is where he is eligible.* For the top prospect, we took into account not just what the player did this year, but his age and potential impact in the major leagues.

*Yes, we know there's a small exception to this otherwise simple formula below.

Level: The Northwest League has existed in various forms since 1901. It features a mix of college talent acquired in the current draft, as well as high school and Latin American prospects who worked their way up from rookie ball. Pitchers are generally ahead of hitters in this circuit since the batters must transition from aluminum bats to wood.

John Conniff

Pitcher of the Year: RHP/SP Matt Andriese 5-1, 1.51 ERA

A big summer in the Cape Cod League in 2010 propelled Andriese, 22, to the third round in this year's draft. The 6'3" UC Riverside product proved to be up to the increased expectations. Forty-two strikeouts in 41.2 innings pitched against only 10 walks and 29 hits made him the ace of the staff. In eight starts, he only gave up seven earned runs as he held the opposition to a .197 batting average.

Runner-up: RHP/SP Cody Hebner 2-2, 3.35 ERA

With a funky delivery that reminds many of Tim Lincecum, Green River Community College's Cody Hebner, 20, a fourth round pick in this year's draft had 39 strikeouts in 37.2 innings against only 15 walks and 28 hits. Hebner draws comparison to Lincecum because many are amazed that a six foot tall, 160 pound former shortstop can touch 97. In seven starts he allowed only nine earned runs while holding the opposition to a .192 batting average.

Ben Davey

Pitcher of the Year: RHP/RP Dan Quackenbush 1-0 0.44 ERA

Technically Quackenbush worked two thirds of an inning more at Fort Wayne, but he with the Ems for a far greater percent of their season. Considering that in 17 appearances in Eugene, Quackenbush gave up all of one run with a sub-1 WHIP and a great 33 strikeouts in 20.2 innings, it's clear he was the most dominant pitcher in Eugene.

Runner-up: Matt Andriese

To be fair, Eugene limited Andriese to between two to five innings per start. But even so, if you tell me that a starter gave up zero earned runs in eight of his final ten starts my jaw drops. Batters hit just .197 against Andriese, and he had a sub one WHIP to go with more than a strikeout per inning.

David Jay

Pitcher of the Year: Matt Andriese

The Ems had a number of interesting arms and just as many low innings ceilings for the year, making it hard to distinguish between the strong performances. Ultimately though, Andriese's numbers are just too good to ignore. How he can hold up against more advanced hitting when he has to go through the lineup multiple times is still to be seen, but it's hard to see how his debut could have been better.

Runner-up: RHP/RP Matt Stites 4-0 1.93 ERA

While Rea was great and Quackenbush is only slightly against the rules, Stites deserves some attention for the dominant year he had out of the pen. A 17th-round pick out of Mizzou, the righty allowed only 23 runners in 32.2 innings of work for a better WHIP than Quackenbush. The move to the pen also led to a 36:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a better K-rate than he had shown in college.

Others of Note: Barbato had the best stuff on the team but struggled to repeat his delivery, hurting his control. James Needy finally got back onto the playing field but had mixed results going 1-4, 4.60 ERA. Chris Wilkes – who may outrank Donavan Tate as the best former quarterback on the roster – is finally back on the field after two years of injury trouble. The big-bodied righty struck out almost 30 percent of the hitters he faced. The Padres will have some decisions to make next year as Barbato, Hebner, Andriese, Rea, Needy, Juan Herrera, Burch Smith, Mark Pope and Will Scott will all look to win a starting job in Fort Wayne. Throw in the fact that Adys Portillo will probably repeat the Midwest League and its' going to get crowded.

MadFriars' 2011 Eugene Emeralds Pitcher of the Year: Matt Andriese

Top Prospect: John Barbato (Unanimous) – The numbers don't completely reflect it, but no Ems pitcher has a higher ceiling and better raw stuff than Barbato. Although he struggled at times, he showed flashes of what is possible. A case in point was his July 23 start against Vancouver, when he threw six innings, only allowing one earned run with ten strikeouts and no walks. Only 19, he throws in the mid 90's and has top-of-the-rotation stuff. But as with Portillo a level above him, it's all about repeating his delivery.

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