Padres' 2011 PCL Pitcher of the Year

Summary: There really isn't any other way to put it; Tucson is a rotten place to pitch. But the scary part is that there are actually better places to hit in the PCL including Colorado Springs, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City to name a few. In other words, pitching statistics where the ball doesn't sink or come down should be taken with a big grain of salt.

The T-Padres had a team ERA of 5.72 with only Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Colorado Springs doing worse. And while the environment was a major factor, the staff also earned a lot of the ugliness.

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.

Level: The Triple-A level is a combination of development and a taxi squad for major league teams. At this level, many players are good enough to be in the major leagues but, thanks to roster configuration, organizational need, and perceived or real shortcomings, are just waiting for their shot.

John Conniff

Pitcher of the Year:LHP/SP Wade LeBlanc 9-1 4.30 ERA

Wade LeBlanc was in the Padres rotation for most of 2010 making twenty-five starts. However the strong performance of Tim Stauffer and the spring performance of Dustin Moseley sent him back to Triple-A to open 2011.

LeBlanc responded by putting up some of his best numbers since he was rising through the lower levels. In June and July he posted a 2.29 E.R.A. in eight starts, holding the opposition to a .205 batting average in some very difficult parks. He had a K/BB ratio of 92/28 in seventeen overall starts for the T-Padres.

Whether or not he will be back with San Diego is an open question, but it is highly unlikely he will be back in the minor leagues.

Runner-up:RHP/SP Samuel Dedundo 4-6 3.93 ERA Dedundo had the lowest E.R.A. of any T-Padres starter, but he had a poor K/BB ratio of 85/58 to go along with seventeen wild pitches. Still he allowed fewer hits than innings pitched (101 in 105.1) while making twelve starts and forty overall appearances.

Ben Davey

Pitcher of the Year: LHP/SP Wade LeBlanc

Credit has to go to Wade for not taking another demotion as a slap in the face, and instead showing that he still deserves to toe the rubber in PETCO.

While win-loss records are not the end-all statistics, it was still nice to gloat that LeBlanc had the best winning percentage of any starter in the PCL. LeBlanc only had three bad starts when he gave up 23 earned runs in 13.2 innings pitched; outside of that he was dominant. In four consecutive starts in June and July, LeBlanc's stat line went 32 innings pitched, 17 hits, five earned runs, six walks and 25 strikeouts. That's fantastic considering he played in a glorified tee ball stadium.

Runner-up: RHP/SP Jeremy Hefner 9-7 4.98 ERA

Hefner was the only starter for the T-Pads to make every one of his starts. His statistics were not all that spectacular, but he still had fourteen quality starts on the year, leading the team. In fact Hefner lasted six plus innings over his last six starts with five quality starts in that span.

David Jay

Pitcher of the Year: RHP Sam Deduno

At 28 years old and having been claimed off waivers last winter, Deduno has long-since passed his days as a top prospect. However, the righty put up solid numbers in his recovery from a second round of arm injuries, posting a team-best 3.93 ERA for Tucson. He continues to walk far too many batters, but induced plenty of grounders with his two-seam fastball and gave the team some much-needed solid innings in relief and as a starter.

Runner-up: Wade LeBlanc

LeBlanc's margin for error is smaller than most pitchers, but when he commands his fastball well to both sides of the plate, he can pitch effectively off of it. In Tucson this year, he did just that. When things went bad in the majors, he once again got gun shy and became too much of a nibbler.

It's unclear whether he will be able to make it work at the highest level of the game, but for Tucson this year, LeBlanc's remarkable changeup and smart effort helped him log over 100 innings that were better than league average. On this staff, such faint praise is worth kudos.

2011 MadFriars' Tucson Padres Pitcher of the Year: Wade LeBlanc

Others of Note:

Lefty Aaron Poreda was once thought to be a safe college pick who would advance quickly to the majors. But somewhere along the way, he lost any sense of how to find home plate. For Tucson in 2011, he rebounded slightly, walking "only" 63 over 69.2 innings. Relievers Evan Scribner and Luis Perdomo each turned in some useful innings with Scribner continuing his strong career strikeout rates thanks to a stellar slider. Lefty Rob Musgrave made two emergency starts in the first half of the season, then came up to help the staff limp through the last month of the season. Originally used as a relief pitcher after the club selected him in the 2008 draft, Musgrave's Triple-A ERA was inflated by being a fly-ball pitcher.

Top Prospect: (John and David) RHP Will Inman 5-11 6.15 ERA

It's Tucson so you can't read too much into the basic statistics. The numbers that do jump out at you for Inman are 120 strikeouts in 117 innings pitched to go along with a 120/57 K/BB ratio. While he has fallen short of the rosy predictions made when he was the key piece of the Scott Linebrink trade in 2007, Inman does appear to have a future in the pen where shorter innings will allow him to throw his fastball in the mid-90's. If he can keep his mechanics clean, he has a chance. Top Prospect: (Ben) LHP Aaron Poreda 4-3 5.43 ERA

Not a lot to pick from here. Poreda had 79 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched with fewer walks than innings pitched (okay, he had 63 base-on-balls, but you get the point). And as anyone that has followed Poreda's career knows, that is huge. I'm always going to like a 6'6" lefty that can throw in the mid-90's. Now if only he could find home plate on a more consistent basis, I will be happy.

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