The Chihuahuas spent nearly all of April on the road before finally opening their new ballpark in El Paso for the last three days of the month.
It would have been pretty easy for Kyle Blanks to go into the tank after being sent down to Triple-A at the end of spring training. Instead he led the organization in home runs with eight in addition to posting the highest OPS 1.040. He saw time at both first base and in the outfield and it's hard to envision him not being back in San Diego sooner rather than later.
Top prospect RHP Burch Smith struggled in his two starts before going on the disabled list. A really interesting story for El Paso has been the performance of LHP Jason Lane, 37, who played six years in the major leagues as an outfielder before reinventing himself as a pitcher. In five starts, a pair of which came in some of the Pacific Coast League's most notorious hitter's parks Albuquerque and Las Vegas, Lane posted a 2.32 ERA and averaged a little over six innings a start.
Also, he can still hit. In 17 plate appearances he posted a slash line .500/.529/.813 as a pitcher/pinch-hitter and late-inning outfield replacement.
AAA/El Paso Player of the Month: Kyle Blanks
San Antonio Missions 10-15
At one point this month the Missions' offense didn't score a run in 40 straight innings, so the offense was not on prominent display for April. As has been his case throughout his career with the Padres, a very bright spot was the performance of RHP Matt Wisler, MadFriars' top prospect coming into the 2014 campaign.
In five starts he posted a 2.10 ERA and struck out 35 batters in 30 innings against only six walks. He was promoted to AAA El Paso on May 2 and it's doubtful he will spend much time there either before making his way to San Diego.
RHP Josh Geer, 30, who missed most of 2012 recovering from melanoma, had a nice month with a 2.40 ERA in 30 innings. If Geer is called up to the big leagues it will probably be as a long man out of the pen as opposed to the starting role he is occupying now. The bullpen in San Antonio was also strong with solid performances by Johnny Barbato and Jerry Sullivan. Offensively SS Jace Peterson was by far the best with a .311/.386/.392 slash line before being sent to San Diego with Chase Headley going on the disabled list.
AA/San Antonio Player of the Month: Matt Wisler
Lake Elsinore Storm 16-11,p> Last season in Fort Wayne Alberth Martinez put together a very good second half which carried over to the first month of the season in the Cal League hitting .306/.365/.468 and was one of the leaders in the league in doubles with nine. Martinez is a good defensive centerfielder and if he can start to run a little more could be the whole package.
RF Hunter Renfroe was the Padres' top draft pick in 2013 and on one hand was very good with 27 hits in 26 games but also was among the league leaders in strikeouts with 41.
Although he doesn't get the publicity of some of the other arms in the organization, RHP Zach Eflin who led the organization in wins with four and had an ERA of 2.80 in six starts. RHP Joe Ross, the younger brother of Tyson Ross, is considered to be one of the more talented arms in the system and this month he showed it with a 1.95 ERA and a 31 to 7 strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio.
Finally, keep an eye on RHP Colin Rea, another pitching talent who seems to be figuring it out with three very strong starts at the end of the month.
High-A/Lake Elsinore Player of the Month: Joe Ross
Fort Wayne TinCaps 11-15
One of the younger teams that the Padres have ever sent to Fort Wayne with five of the eight regulars starting the season under twenty; and it showed. The TinCaps made 55 errors in 25 games with SS Franchy Cordero and 3B Dustin Peterson accountable for 18 and 12 of them.
Still for the most part the team was able to tread water with a very good performance by Chula Vista's Fernando Perez, who saw time at first, second and third base while hitting .326/.351/.489. RF Franmil Reyes at six-foot-five and 240 lbs. is a physical specimen and won't turn twenty until July; hit .300/.351/.522 with 11 extra-base hits. CF Mallex Smith returned to the Summit City with a full outfield above him in Lake Elsinore and stole 16 bases in 22 games but needs to improve upon a .221 batting average.
C/DH Dane Phillips is another returnee to Fort Wayne also put up some solid numbers at .328/.380/.516 in 16 games with the TinCaps.
Because he had a volcanic infield on the left side RHP Pete Kelich had a 4.88 ERA and a 0-3 record but his peripheral statistics of 26 strikeouts against three walks in 24 innings indicate a pitcher that was better than his defense.
Low-A/Fort Wayne Player of the Month: Fernando Perez
April MadFriars' Player of the Month: Matt Wisler
Matt Wisler led the organization in strikeouts, had less hits than innings pitched and lived up to his billing as the Padres' pre-season top prospect. His velocity sits in the low 90's and he can dial it up to 95 to 96 mph if he needs too with his four-seam fastball.
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