Mobile Players of the Month

The BayBears run a great organization and I especially admire anyone that goes out in the heat and humidity of South Alabama to play baseball, but even I can't spin the fact that this is a bad team and is very unlikely to improve. There is no way to sugar coat it. Its not just that there are only a few guys on this team that are potential major league prospects, a more accurate description is that there are only a few guys on this team that will ever advance out of the Southern League.

After finishing last for the first half of the season in the southern division, the BayBears entered the month of July again ensconced in last place. As of this writing, through 83 games, the BayBears have won 33, which is easily the worst in the entire organization.

Position Player - OF Paul McAnulty

McAnulty,24, was called up to the majors on June 23, but still posted the best numbers of any BayBears' position player for the month. Paul had a better batting average, .321 in April, but in June he demonstrated the power that the Padres had hoped to see from him all along, with twelve of his twenty two hits going for extra bases and still hitting at a .306 clip.

McAnulty got called up to the Padres because he is the best option for a left handed bat above A ball. Combine that with a quick short power stroke and unflappable confidence in himself, and McAnulty could be in San Diego for good as soon as 2006. However, unless players such as 1b Joe Gerber,26, and 3b Cory Smith,23, pick up their offense in July, expect to see McAnulty's walk total dramatically rise.

After batting close to .300 for the first two months, Cory Smith dropped below the Mendoza Line hitting .190. Joe Gerber had some success after returning from Portland hitting .269, with six of his twenty-five hits going for extra bases.

First baseman Greg Sain, who was promoted to Portland a day before McAnulty, with a second solid month hitting .283, but still not exhibiting his signature power from last year.

Pitcher - (LHP) Sean Thompson

After a rough start, Sean,20, has finally settled down. He posted an ERA of 5.21 in May, brought it down to 3.62 for June and seems to be on the road for even lower numbers in July. Despite a very vocal opposition to the heat in Mobile, Thompson seems to have settled into a comfortable routine.

A change in his arm slot at the beginning of the month has helped Sean with his velocity, coupled with an improved curve and change-up. Thompson is still allowing a good number of hits per inning pitched (31 hits in 30 innings) and needs to cut down on his walks ( a bad WHIP of 1.46), but is able to turn it up a notch when he gets into trouble. Additionally, he is showing some serious skills with the bat hitting 375 with 6 hits in 16 at bats. Maybe Thompson should be batting behind McAnulty.

Travis Chick,21, (RHP) after showing much promise in the month of May had a disastrous June, losing five out of his six starts for an 0-5 record with a 6.23 ERA. Chick still has excellent command and velocity, but has a tendency to give up a few big hits (7 home runs in 30 innings for the month of May), which kills him. While Travis should improve in the second half, one has to question the Padres for jumping a twenty year old pitcher with limited experience as a starting pitcher to the Southern League without at least a few starts in the California League. Its a very big jump, and Chick seems to be finding out just how big a jump it is with each outing.

Commentary - So is help coming on the way? For the most part, no. Young position players such as catcher George Kottaras, Fernando Valenzuela Jr., Drew Macias and Brett Bonevechio all seem destined to spend a full year in the California League.

A possible candidate for a call-up is first baseman/DH Michael Johnson, if he is able to stay healthy. In the first month of the season Johnson was the best player in the California League hitting .346 with 8 home runs and 31 RBIs before suffering a hand injury. MJ, 25, is a former second round draft pick out of Clemson in 2002, has had a professional career beset with injuries. With Fernando Valenzuela more than capable of handling the first base duties at Lake Elsinore, and a need for a bat in Mobile, it is likely the Padres will look to promote Johnson as quickly as possible.

Jared Wells is 8-0 in his last ten starts, and for the month of June posted an ERA of 1.89. Despite his success the Padres seem concerned by some strange peripheral statistics, mainly a poor BB/K ratio of 11/17 and a rather large amount of hits to innings pitched (33/33.1) for someone that has had as much success. Wells record and ERA still stand out and we should see him in Mobile before too long.

As fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers used to say, there is always next year…

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