Probably the less said about the starters and a team with the second worst ERA in the PCL the better. Former top pick Tim Stauffer's best moment was a spot start in San Diego in August, other than that it was a forgettable season for him. Mike Thompson had a nice year in both San Diego and Portland, showing himself to be a viable option as a back of the rotation starter or long man out of the bullpen.
Jared Wells, after a good first half in Mobile fell flat on his face in Portland posting a 2-9 record in 15 starts with a 7.27 ERA. PCL batters hit .296 against him as Wells gave up 59 earned runs in 73 innings.
Meredith, as we all know, came over from the Red Sox with Josh Bard in the infamous Doug Mirabelli trade. He went 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA in Portland in 24 games, holding batters to a .222 average. Meredith only walked four batters in 32.1 innings while striking out 24 against only 26 hits.
Adkins was plucked out of the White Sox organization as a minor league free agent and was nearly as good with a 1.38 ERA in 13 games. Andrade went 3-0 with a 2.44 ERA in 26 games after being re-acquired from the Kansas City Royals organization. Andrade, who throws a hard sinker, struggled a little bit more with his control walking 22 in 44 innings against 45 strikeouts.
Let's be clear that being the best pitcher on the 2006 Portland Beavers roster is not to be confused with the major accomplishments in professional baseball. With the presumptive favorites for the honor at this level either injured (Carrillo, Hudgins) or uninspiring (Wells), the decision came down to the two guys who delivered both in Portland and at the big league level for the Padres.
While Mike Thompson was invaluable as the Padres' sixth starter and posted an ERA that just missed the top ten in the PCL, it was Cla Meredith who really wowed them in Portland.
A six-to-one strikeout to walk ratio is impressive any way you cut it. To accomplish that feat after becoming an afterthought addition to a trade is quite remarkable. The side-arming righty gave up just four free passes in 32.1 innings of work before joining the big league squad, bolstering the back of a Portland bullpen which saw a number of arms shuttle back and forth to San Diego.
Meredith's resilient arm and bulldog mentality make it hard to say his rebound from his much-recounted nightmare big league debut in Boston last year is shocking, but the former Virginia Commonwealth University closer has to be happy with his re-emergence this year. You can bet the Padres are too.
The Savage File:
Many times we wonder when the kid gloves will come off and when a player will be treated like a man. Cla Meredith fell into the latter category. Showing maturity well beyond his age, the right-handed sidewinder has rocketed through the minors, making the majors last year with Boston. This year, he began the year in Portland after being acquired from the Red Sox and dominated.
While his exploits in San Diego are well documented, Meredith began it all in Portland, using natural movement, repeating a consistent release point, keeping the ball down in the zone, and baffling hitters. He appeared in 24 games and surrendered runs in five – never giving up more than one in any game. Of the 29 hitters he faced to open an inning just five reached base.
Meredith has twice entered a league and left it without a run scoring upon him, tossing 15.1 innings of scoreless ball in Augusta before being promoted to Sarasota and doing it again in Portland of the Eastern League before being shipped to Triple-A Pawtucket while in the Red Sox organization. His success in San Diego comes as no surprise – even if his recently ended scoreless streak did.
Take away the second outing Jason Anderson made in Portland and you might be looking at a different Pitcher of the Year. He allowed seven runs that day – a day that boosted ERA for the year from 2.54 in 59 appearances to 3.29 in 60 outings. He ended the year without allowing an earned run over his final 15 contests.