Padres' Pitchers of the Month: July

Six leagues to review in the San Diego Padres' farm system, so lets get going.


Dewon Brazelton
Right-handed starting pitcher
2-0, 0.55 ERA

Amazingly, a starting pitcher won for the Beavers, a first this season. In three starts, Brazelton only gave up 11 hits in 16.1 innings, while striking out nine and allowing only five walks. Barring an injury to Mike Thompson, Scott Cassidy, or Brian Sweeney it seems unlikely, though, that Brazelton will get a call-up to the big club.

Others to Watch: Scott Cassidy is 5-for-5 in save opportunities since being sent back to Portland and hasn't allowed a run. He's holding batters to a .182 average and should be back with the first available spot in the Padres' bullpen. Steve Andrade since being re-signed from the Royals has continued to impress going 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA. Another one of the Padres many middle relief pitchers who throw a lot of sinkers, but his big negative is he walks a few too many hitters, 10 in 17 innings.

Disappointments: Not to pick on Tim Stauffer, but he's been listed in this section two out of the three months and July is no exception. A 2-3 record with a 5.45 ERA is not going to garner him much attention for a call-up in September and in fact is indicative of a thoroughly forgettable year. In six starts Stauffer allowed 45 hits in 33 innings and had his customary poor K/BB differential [25/17]. Stauffer also tied with Jared Wells for allowing the most home runs on the team with five.

Wells also had a tough month for a guy whose season started out so promising in Mobile. Wells went 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA. He walked an unusually high number of batters 13 in 24 innings compared to what he did in the Southern League [27 in 61.1 innings] which is what hurt him more than the hits allowed [24].


Dirk Hayhurst
Right-handed starting pitcher
3-1, 2.57 ERA

Hayhurst rebounded from a tough June [5.40 ERA in two starts] to come back with a strong July. He allowed only 14 hits in 21 innings pitched, while striking out 22 and walking nine. In four starts only one did he fail to go at least five innings and allowed only one home run for the month.

Prospect Watch: Not a whole lot left with the exception of Sean Thompson and he had a tough month. Jack Cassel has pitched well since being demoted from Portland going 3-0 with 1.64 ERA. Cassel has usually performed well in both starting and relief roles and possibly could be a middle relief candidate down the road. Atlanta Braves refugee Bubba Nelson continues to try to live up to the hype that author Bill Shanks of ‘Scout's Honor' bestowed upon him and had a nice month going 2-2 and striking out 16 batters in 17 innings, but walked ten.

Disappointments: After raving about Sean Thompson last month, he struggled again in July with a 1-3 record and a 4.88 ERA. In five starts he went over five innings once, but again his K/BB ratios [20/8] are solid. Thompson is a good pitcher, probably more than anything he just needs a change of scenery. My bet is his numbers would take off in Portland out of the South Alabama heat.

Lake Elsinore

Cesar Ramos
Left-handed starting pitcher
3-0, 2.97 ERA

Ramos' peripheral numbers still bother me [39 hits in 36 innings pitched and 21/10 K/BB ratio] but he somehow allowed only 12 earned runs, kept his ERA down, and, most importantly, won. The Padres believe that as Ramos moves up the ladder, and the defense improves, his numbers will follow. He doesn't walk that many batters in relation to the number of innings he pitches, but it's still a little too much contact for my taste.

Prospect Watch: Manny Ayala was signed by the Padres out the independent Golden Baseball League, the home of the San Diego Surf Dawgs, and was one of the better pitchers with the Storm for this month. Ayala went 3-1 with a 4.61 ERA, but posted a ridiculous 24/2 K/BB ratio. He allowed a few too many hits, 29 in 27.1 innings, but still has a lot of promise. Signed out of East LA Community College by the Mesa Miners, Ayala at 21 and 6-foot-4, 210-pounds has potential written all over him.

Disappointments: Quite a few choices. Josh Geer, after a great month in Fort Wayne, was hammered in the California League. Geer went 2-2 with a 5.97 ERA, allowing 50 hits in 31.2 innings as batters hit .368 against him. Evan Meek was nearly as hittable allowing the opposition a .357 average while posting a 1-1 record with a 7.67 ERA and 41 hits in 27 innings. Finally, Neil Jamison blew three of his seven save opportunities to end up with a 5.68 ERA. The good news is Neil still struck out 15 batters and walked only one in 12.2 innings pitched, it is the home runs that hurt him [4].

Fort Wayne

Steve Delabar
Right-handed starting pitcher
3-1, 3.67 ERA

Delabar threw the second most innings of any Wizard's starter this month and allowed less hits than innings pitched [31/34] to lead the team in wins. His big problem is still his command, which affects his pitching efficiency allowing 20 walks against 26 strikeouts. A big [6-foot-5, 220-pounds] hard throwing pitcher [88-92 mph] he has the potential to be a major league pitcher, but finding his command will be his ticket to the majors.

Prospect Watch: The Padres lost two of their more high ceiling prospects, Fabian Jimenez and Joel Santo, in the Scott Williamson deal, but believed that both were still too far away with their command to be more than fringe prospects as best. Brandon Higelin continues to perform well in the underappreciated role of middle relief, going 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA. Higelin struck out nine in 13 innings while allowing only 12 hits, but not one home run.

Disappointments: Compared to Lake Elsinore, no one really had a bad month. Seriously, players can always perform better, but no one pitched poorly enough to merit mention for this segment. Congratulations to the Wizard's staff.


Matt Buschmann
Right-handed pitcher
0-1, 2.13 ERA

Picked in the 15th round by the Padres in this year's draft out of Vanderbilt, Buschmann has thrived under the Padres very different approach to pitching in the lower levels [In the short-season leagues the Padres are using an eight-man rotation allowing pitchers to only throw a specific number of pitches]. In 25.1 innings, he has allowed only 18 hits, struck out 31 batters against five walks while holding the opposition to a .200 batting average. His statistics are obviously very good, but the big question, as with all college pitchers at this level, is does he have enough of a fastball to succeed at higher levels?

Prospect Watch: A good young staff with seven of the Emeralds pitchers allowing fewer hits than innings pitched. Ernesto Frieri, who was very good in the Arizona League last year, continues to be a solid long-range pitching prospect. Frieri was 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA, striking out 10 in 8.1 innings pitched while allowing five hits and walking one. Orlando Lara had a very good BB/K ratio of 32/9 while allowing only 16 hits in 23.2 innings.

This year's highest drafted pitcher, Wade LeBlanc out of Alabama, had a 4.50 ERA, but his other numbers, 19/6 BB/K ratio and 19 hits in 20 innings were good, but he may be a little too hittable. LeBlanc has the same reputation as his former teammate and fellow Padres prospect Brent Carter as being someone with great command that can change speeds, but not much velocity or a breaking pitch. Carter got over that hump in Lake Elsinore before going down with an injury, it will be interesting to see how LeBlanc does in Fort Wayne and especially the California League. Draft and follow selection Aaron Breit also was strong, allowing 20 hits in 21 innings and striking out 30 while walking nine. RJ Rodriguez rounds out the pitching prospect roster with a 1-1 record and 0.00 ERA, striking out 12 against only one walk and allowing eight hits in 11.1 innings.

Disappointments: The biggest one is Geoff Vandel [1-0 9.82 ERA for the year, with batters hitting .388 against him] who showed so much promise last year. Vandel was sent back to the Arizona Rookie League where he has also struggled, posting a 6.75 ERA during the month of July.

Arizona Rookie League

Matt Huff
Right-handed reliever
2-0, 2.30 ERA

Selected in the 27th round of the 2006 draft out of Regis College in Colorado, Huff struck out 22 batters in 15.2 innings while walking only four. He's pitched well, but at 22 he needs to move up.

Prospect Watch: Before being traded to Chicago for Todd Walker, Jose Ceda, 19, was having a nice year in Peoria at 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA.

Disappointments: Riki Paewai, an Australian signed a few years ago, isn't really struggling but has yet to match the expectations, particularly with his control, but he's only 20.

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