Pitcher of the Year for Eugene

The Eugene Emeralds won a grand total of 26 games during the 2004 season. Finding a diamond in all that rough wasn't an easy task but one player who got out early deserves recognition.

Pitcher of the Year for Eugene

Vern Sterry
Right-handed starter
6-foot-2, 210 pounds
Birthdate: 2/7/82

2004 Season: Vern was the lone bright spot for a bad Eugene Emeralds staff in 2004. In nine starts, for the last place Emeralds – the worst team in the Northwest League – Sterry went 2-3 with a 3.96 ERA. In 50 innings pitched he struck out 52 batters while only walking 11. Promoted to Fort Wayne, Sterry continued to deliver going 2-0, with 26 strikeouts against only five walks in 30 innings over five starts.

Sterry doesn't walk a lot of batters, and nearly had a 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio, despite stuff that isn't overpowering. His key to success is location and when he misses he generally is down in the zone.

"Four seam fastball, between 88-90. I try and throw a hard breaking ball and a palm ball for a changeup," Sterry explains of his repertoire. "I am not going to overpower you with a 99 mile per hour fastball."

Background: Drafted in the eighth round by the Padres out of North Carolina State in 2004, Sterry is another Padres' pitcher with a plus changeup.

2005 Outlook: Sterry was the lone bright spot for Eugene in 2004, but guys like this are very difficult to project. Frequently, experienced college pitchers will dominate the short season and lower A levels before the hitting talent catches up with them. In the past few years there have been numerous Padres' pitching prospects, who like Sterry rely on a plus changeup, who have posted outstanding numbers at the lower levels before being pounded at the upper levels. Gabe Ribas is a prominent example of this phenomenon.

Sterry will start the season at Fort Wayne, and probably be promoted to Lake Elsinore, if he pitches well, by mid-season. The big question with him is does he have enough of a fastball to make it at the higher levels.

I like Vern Sterry and what he has accomplished so far, it's just that with any college control pitchers without a plus fastball I need to be convinced at each level.

Runner Up

None

Alfredo Fernandez had some good moments, a nice ratio of base on balls to strikeout (23/45) but his ERA, 5.45, was simply too high to justify a selection.

Other pitchers made their marks, but none had enough innings pitched to warrant a nod here. The excitement regarding closer David O'Hagan was tempered when he was lost for much of the year due to injury.

All together, as mentioned above, the Eugene pitching staff performed poorly led by William Ponce with a 1-9 record and a 5.97 ERA.


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