While in Fort Wayne, Clark Girardeau amassed a 4-4 record with a 5.02 ERA. He limited hitters to a .233 average and was dominant at home as batters hit just .186. The right-hander thrived against his own kind as righties hit .204 off him.
He kept the opposition to three earned runs or less in 10 of his 13 starts and his ERA was inflated due to a nine earned run performance on May 10.
Now that he is with Lake Elsinore, his stats have improved across the board. Lefties that were once hitting .278 off him are now hitting .125. And he has continued his dominance over righties as they are hitting just .156. Instead of the .329 average that the opposition boasted against him with runners in scoring position while in Fort Wayne, Girardeau is limiting the opposition to .200 in those same situations with Lake Elsinore.
Now that he is with the Storm of the California League, also known as a hitters league, how is he handling the differences and what are the major ones?
"I don't even know how to answer that! I have to throw more strikes early in the count," Girardeau said. "Up here the guys are a little more polished. Each level you are going to have to throw more strikes just to get ahead of guys.
"It is tough to get behind, especially in this league. It is a pretty good fastball hitting league. If you get behind you have to throw fastballs and you are throwing it right to them. I just focus on trying to get ahead and try to keep em off balance."
So far, so good on that front for Girardeau. He has struck out 18 in 20.1 innings of work after striking out 73 in 71.2 innings with Fort Wayne.
Oddly enough, Girardeau is not necessarily a strike out pitcher. His secret weapon, however, enables him to ring up some K's if he gets ahead.
"Just getting ahead of hitters," echoed Girardeau. "I think my slider is my best pitch. If I am able to get ahead with my fastball then I might be able to get some strikeouts with my slider."
The next stop on the prospect caravan will lead Girardeau through his hometown of Mobile. To be able to pitch in front of friends and family would push some to lose focus. Girardeau takes it in stride. He is excited about the prospect of playing at home but is not in a hurry to get there.
"I don't know if I am under pressure to get back home. That would be great. Double-A with any team is pretty outstanding. I would like to get back to Mobile, but I am not in a hurry."
"I am definitely not in a hurry. I think when I am ready, they will move me. Right now I am (in Lake Elsinore) and I just need to keep pitching well here and make it stop to stop, not try and get in over my head. It would be tough to go up there and fail when you are not ready."
Through the early stages of his tenure with the Storm he appears to be more than up for the task. The California League is not forgiving, however, and it will take a continued effort from Girardeau to stay atop the prospect list. He could very well be living his dream in Mobile by this time next year.
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Padres Prospect Interview: Clark Girardeau
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