Padres' Minor League Pitchers of the Month

When looking at the pitchers in the system, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that probably either Cesar Carrillo or Jared Wells will have an opportunity to be in the Padres rotation for 2007.

The bad news is that after Carrillo and Wells, the depth drops quickly.

Portland

Pitcher of the Month:
Mike Thompson
3-0, 4.82 ERA
Thompson, 25, a seven-year veteran of the Padres minor league system, has slowly been chugging his way up the organizational ladder. In addition to being the only Beaver's starter without a loss, he is also the only one with an ERA under five and who has allowed less hits than innings pitched (26/28).

Thompson is known more as a control pitcher without a single dominant pitch, but he's posted solid base-on-ball to strikeout ratio (21/7) and would probably be the first pitcher called up if the Padres needed an emergency starter.

Others to watch: Brian Sikorski. Not great numbers, 0-2 with a 3.31 ERA, but has posted some solid base-on-balls to strikeout numbers (4/26), which is one of the things you look for in a relief pitcher.

Disappointments: Tim Stauffer. If it weren't for the attention that Matt Bush garners, Stauffer may be the biggest disappointment in the Padres system. Selected as the third overall pick of the 2003 draft, Stauffer has struggled mightily since being sent down. With the exception of a three-hit shutout in his last start of 2005 in Portland, Stauffer went 0-5 with a 10.73 ERA in his previous six starts.

This April, he hasn't been that much better, with a 1-2 record and a 6.00 ERA. Batters have hit .295 against him, he's allowed 31 hits in 27 innings pitched and has only gone over five innings once.

To his credit he's going out there and fighting, but his velocity is down from where it was when he was drafted and he's not going to get many major league or AAA batters out with a mid to high 80's fastball. He's going to have to get much better with his breaking pitches to have another shot at the big leagues.

Mobile

Pitchers of the Month: Cesar Carrillo
1-1 2.57 ERA
And
Jared Wells
3-1, 2.03

Both pitchers performed well in April and are the two best pitchers in the organization. Carrillo, last year's number first rounder, had a very good April, walking six batters and allowing 23 hits in 28 innings pitched. Carrillo, with a little luck, could be 3-0, going seven innings twice, his lone loss of the month was a 1-0 decision.

Jared Wells has shown remarkable growth since the Padres selected him as a draft-follow out of San Jacinto Community College in 2002. When the Padres first signed Wells he had only pitched for a single season, after converting to a pitcher when a blown out knee ended his dual career as a quarterback/outfielder.

He struggled in his last few games in Double-A last year, but this year, armed with a significantly improved changeup, Wells has been tough. He's only allowed 19 hits in 26 innings, but has walked more than he would like (12). Wells, at 6-foot-4, 215-pounds had the best ERA on the staff for April and may have even more upside than Carrillo.

Others to watch: Sean Thompson. In his first two starts he struck out seven while walking five and allowed 11 hits in seven innings. In his final two starts of the month, Thompson allowed only five hits in 13 innings, while striking out 13 and walking one.

Disappointments: Dale Thayer. A disappointment simply because of how dominating he was in 2005. Thayer had five saves for the month, but sported a 5.75 ERA making everything into an adventure. Batters hit .340 against him, and .353 with runners in scoring position. It's remarkable that Thayer posted the overall statistics that he did, but he's going to have to pick it up, this luck won't hold forever.

Lake Elsinore

Pitcher of the Month:
Mike Ekstrom
2-2, 1.91 ERA

Another one of the Padres solid college pitchers, who knows how to pitch but is not particularly blessed with outstanding stuff. Pitchers like this will post very good base-on-balls to strikeout numbers, (7/32), but where it gets interesting when you start looking at the hits per innings pitched (17.2/18) and what batters are hitting against him, .278. A real question is when the hitters improve, will they still be as effective?

Still, Lake Elsinore is a good test for him, and many didn't think he would do as well as he has at this level. So far, he has done everything that has been asked of him.

Others to watch: Neil Jamison. Jamison stepped into the breach when Storm closer Matt Varner was suspended. Jamison has a great opportunity to advance and is one of the few Padres' relief specialist whose main pitch isn't a change-up. Jamison, out of Long Beach State University has a low sinking fastball and a sinker.

Jamison had four saves in April in five appearances, holding batters to a .174 average while striking out nearly a batter per inning in a very limited sample.

Disappointments: Matt Varner led the organization in saves last year in Fort Wayne, but at 25 and in the California League time is precious and a lengthy suspension doesn‘t help. This sets Varner back at least a year, and when he did pitch this year he wasn't effective with a 7.36 ERA in four games.

Fort Wayne

Pitcher of the Month:
Josh Geer
3-0, 3.54 ERA

The best overall numbers of the Wizards‘ staff. A good strikeout/base-on-balls ratio (4/22) but some concern over his innings pitched to hits-allowed ratio (28/34) and batters are also hitting .312 against him and .357 with runners in scoring position.

Overall, a nice start to the season, but some concern if his stuff is really going to play at the next level. A lot will depend on if he can continue to make his slider his best pitch.

Others to watch: Fabian Jimenez, a left-handed pitcher that is the opposite of Geer, all the talent in the world, but right now it's much more promise than performance. He has a 4.01 ERA, but he's allowed fewer hits than innings pitched. Fabian‘s problem last year and this year is control, he‘s walked nearly as many batters as he‘s struck out (14/16). He does show some promise holding batters to a .115 batting average with runners in scoring position, but needs to be more consistent. A big upside, but just needs to refine his talent more, but that is why he is in the low minors.

Disappointments: Ben Krosschell. Another pitcher with a world of talent, but is just having troubles putting it together. Four starts with an 8.47 ERA, and left handed batters hitting him at a .467 clip earned him a ticket out of Fort Wayne. He's only 19 and will probably be back in Fort Wayne by the end of the year after getting his confidence back in extended spring training/Eugene.


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