Padres Prospect Pitchers of the Month: August

Some promising arms emerge in the short-season leagues, and once again the Padres may have a middle relief candidate in Portland.

Portland Beavers

Steve Andrade
1-0, 2.25 ERA
Relief Pitcher

Andrade, 28, who was a Rule V pick in the off-season and then returned to the Royals came back to the organization and may have earned a shot as a middle relief pitcher down the road. He is another one of the seemingly endless supply of Padres' middle relief pitchers that live off of a hard slider. He posted a nice BB/K [4/16] while holding batters to a .195 average.

Others to Watch: Although the starting pitching has been dismal for the Beavers, the Padres continue to find pitchers who can help in middle relief. Scott Cassidy, 30, who was with the Padres for most of the first half of the season before running into a bad stretch has righted himself in Portland and was called back to San Diego at the end of August.

Cassidy won three games and saved 4-of-5 opportunities this month. His K/BB ratio was a very good, 18/3,but was a hittable allowing 16 hits in 14 innings as batters hit .291 off of Portland's closer.

Disappointments: In his one appearance in San Diego this year Tim Stauffer, 24, pitched better [6 IP, 1 Earned Run, 3 H, 1 BB, 2K's] than he has for most of the year in Portland. This month was no exception as Stauffer went 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA as batters hit .356 against him.

Jared Wells, 24, was actually a little worse going 1-4 in six starts with a 7.92 ERA as batters teed off at a .325 clip against him.

Although the pitching performances were far from good, a defensive infield of Paul McAnulty, Dave Matranga, Justin Leone and Jon Knott for most of the year is not one to inspire a lot of confidence either.

Mobile BayBears

Jack Cassel
3-2 2.72 ERA
Starting Pitcher

Cassel, 26, was hammered in Portland with a 6.48 ERA but regained his command with the BayBears. Cassel struck out 45 batters in 36.1 innings pitched while allowing only six base-on-balls and 28 hits. He did give up more home runs than any other Mobile pitcher [3], but still held Southern League batters to a .207 batting average.

Prospect Watch: Sean Thompson, 23, nearly took the honors, but Cassel's numbers were just slightly better. Thompson, who is easily the best major league prospect left in Mobile, had a solid final month finishing 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA. For his third straight month Thompson allowed fewer hits than innings pitched [26/30] while striking out more than one batter an inning [32/20] against ten walks.

Jose Oyervidez, 24, 3-2 3.18 ERA and Dale Thayer, 25, 2-0 0.64 ERA was a perfect 7-7 in save opportunities, also pitched well as the BayBears went 16-12 for the month.

Disappointments: Dirk Hayhurst, 25, had a tough month, 0-3 with a 6.86 ERA and may not have the stuff to pitch on this level. Batters hit .345 against him and he allowed 15 earned runs in 19 innings.

Lake Elsinore Storm

Josh Geer
4-0 3.86 ERA
Starting Pitcher

It's been an interesting season for Josh Geer. After going 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA for Fort Wayne in June, he was pounded in Lake Elsinore the next month with a 5.97 ERA, but still went 2-2. This month he returned to his dominant ways winning four of his six starts with a 3.86 ERA for the Storm.

Geer, 23, pretty much defines the term "contact pitcher" as he allowed 40 hits in 39.2 innings, but only walked five while striking out 24. He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he's the quintessential "knows how to pitch guy" allowing only 17 earned runs and no home runs.

Prospect Watch: Closer Neil Jamison, 23, was a little hittable despite 17 strikeouts in 16 innings, allowing 18 hits with batters whacking the ball at a .281 clip. But, he excelled in the most important statistics for his job, 8-for-8 in save opportunities while winning two games.

Disappointments: Bad peripheral statistics finally caught up to the organizations first round supplemental pick in the 2005 draft Cesar Ramos. Ramos, 22, went 0-4 in four starts with an 8.27 ERA. Ramos allowed 23 earned runs in 20.1 innings while batters teed off to the lefty's offerings with a .372 batting average. Finally, he only struck out ten batters against ten base-on-balls before being shutdown for the rest of the month.

Fort Wayne Wizards

Greg Burke
3-2 2.88 ERA
Starting Pitcher

A big 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher, Burke won the Pitcher of the Month for his ability to take the ball and eat innings. Burke, 23, started six games for the Wizards in August, pitching 40.2 innings, striking out 29 against six walks. He allowed 13 earned runs and held batters to a .263 batting average.

Prospect Watch: Wade LeBlanc, who was selected in the second round of this year draft out of the University of Alabama, put together a solid month after a good opening campaign in Eugene. LeBlanc, 22, went 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 5 starts and only allowed 21 hits in 23.2 innings. The proverbial "crafty lefty" pitched well but needs to go a little deeper into games. Closer John Madden, 23, was 9-for-9 in save opportunities with a 2.70 ERA. Madden struck out 14 batters in ten innings while only allowing eight hits.

Disappointments: Jarrett Gardner, 25, was 2-2 with a 6.23 ERA, allowing 50 hits in 30.1 innings while Midwest League batters hit .388 against him.

Eugene Emeralds

Brooks Dunn
2-1 1.59 ERA
Starting Pitcher

Dunn, 22, is another one of the Padres' left-handed pitching draft picks out of the SEC [Brent Carter and Wade LeBlanc] that other teams have ignored because they don't light up the speed gun. He led the Emeralds in ERA this month allowing only 29 hits in 34 innings pitched. His BB/K ratio was 22/6 and he held batters to a .232 average, the lowest of an Emeralds' starter who made more than five starts this month.

Prospect Watch: Aaron Breit had the highest profile of the three draft-and-follow pitchers the Padres signed before the 2006 draft. This month Breit, 20, pitched 30.1 innings and only allowed 26 hits, while striking out 26 against ten walks. He can bring it at around 94, but usually sits in the low 90's and is one of the Padres brighter young prospects in the lower minors.

Emeralds' closer R.J. Rodriguez, 22, was also impressive saving 7-of-8 with a 2.65 ERA and a 14/4 K/BB ratio and only allowing 12 hits in 17 innings pitched.

Disappointments: None. For the second time in this series [the other was Fort Wayne in July] there is no one to really single out as having had a bad month.

AZL Padres

Geoff Vandel
2-0 2.59 ERA
Starting/Relief

Vandel, 19, struggled with injuries and command in the Northwest League, but like Jack Cassel in Mobile has rebounded in the Arizona dessert. The left-hander returned to the form that made many thought going into the season he would be one of the Padres fastest climbers. In August, Vandel fanned 30 in 24.1 innings against only five walks and 22 hits, allowing only seven earned runs.

Prospect Watch: Strong performances this month by Matt Handley and Pablo Menchaca helped to lead the Peoria Padres to the Arizona Rookie League title. Handley, 23, went 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA, striking out 24 against four base-on-balls with batters hitting a paltry .206 against him. Menchaca's numbers were even better going 2-0 with a 1.14 ERA in five starts with a 24/3 BB/K ratio, and he‘s only 18.

Disappointments: Tyler Mead, 19, went 0-1 with a 11.25 ERA in six games allowing 26 hits in 12 innings with batters hitting an astounding .413 against him.

Notes:

That concludes our monthly series. A big thank you to everyone who has read this column from the beginning of the season and for all the helpful comments and corrections.

Denis, David and I will select One Player and Pitcher of the Year for each level, which should run into late September, culminating in the Madfriars.com Player and Pitcher of the year.

Contact senior writer John Conniff at conniff@sandiegosports.net


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