Pitcher of the Month - April

This is a month of starting pitching. At each level within the organization, one starter has stood out for his tremendous performances. Find out whom – and which one of the four takes the prize.

Portland Beavers
Justin Germano
3-0, 2.25 ERA

A blast from the past. The Padres claimed Germano off waivers from the Phillies in spring training and so far he has produced. Germano has allowed 17 hits in 24 innings, averaging six innings an outing with a K/BB ratio of 15/3. Batters are hitting only .193 against him and .188 when in scoring position. If you're looking for a "sixth starter" when someone goes down Germano may be the man over Mike Thompson. And he won his first start in May.

Last year, Portland's bullpen was the strength of the club and this year is no exception. Andrew Brown, Royce Ring, Justin Hampson and Leo Rosales all put up excellent numbers, all with ERA's under 1.50. Brown stuck out 20 against 7 walks in 17.2 innings while left-hander Ring was equally effective with 17 in 13.1 innings against 6 walks. Look for all of these guys to bounce between San Diego and Portland this year.

Disappointments: Jared Wells with a 0-4 record to go along with a 6.75 ERA. Batters hit .309 against him to go along with 15 free passes in 25.1 innings.

San Antonio Missions
Sean Thompson
3-1, 0.64 ERA

First let's get some editorial bias out in the open. Sean Thompson is our boy, has been our boy and always will be our boy. Not only is he an occasional contributor to but he's also one of our favorite people in the organization. That being said he still had by far and away the best month of any pitcher in the Padres' organization.

In 28.1 innings Thompson has allowed only 2 earned runs, one of them a home run. He has only allowed 19 hits with 21 strike outs. His sole blemish is a rather high 14 walks, but 6 of them occurred in one game, averaging 2.5 in the rest of his starts. Thompson is still the best left-handed pitcher in the organization and look for him to move up to Portland by mid-season, if not sooner.

"The numbers are a little bit deceiving," said Thompson. "I have been on the good side of some amazing defensive plays and our offense. It has been a collective effort – it has been all of us. It is unbelievable what is going on here."

As with Portland, San Antonio's bullpen has been lights out this year. The bullpen is led by Neil Jamison, who is on top of the Texas League with nine saves in 10 opportunities. This year Jamison has improved on his one problem from last year, left-handed hitters holding them to a .227 average. Paul Abraham, Frank Brooks, Jonathan Ellis and Jonathan Searles are all part of a solid middle relief corps that has helped the starting staff that is off to a shaky start. Ellis has yet to issue a walk in 9.1 innings to go along with his 12 strikeouts and left-hander Brooks has a 17/2 K/BB ratio.

Disappointments: With the exception of Thompson the starting pitching is off to a slow start but it is really too hard to characterize any of them as disappointing. For this a month, a pass to San Antonio.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Manny Ayala
3-1, 2.05 ERA

The right-hander put together a solid month. In 30.2 innings pitched Ayala allowed 29 hits, struck out 22 against 5 walks. Batters hit only .248 against him as he averaged 6 innings a start. He blanked the opposition over five in his first May outing.

Left-hander Wade LeBlanc was close behind with a 2-1 record and 2.92 ERA in the hitter friendly California League. LeBlanc allowed 20 hits in 29.2 innings with a K/BB ratio of 20/9 and held batter to a .227 average. Matt Buschmann also turned in some decent numbers going 2-1 with 2.51 ERA, but was too hittable allowing 39 hits in 28.2 innings as batters hit .333 against him.

Disappointments: Brent Carter and Richie Daigle both posted ERA's above 6 for the month. Also the team has yet to find a closer with John Madden going on the injured list.

Fort Wayne Wizards
Nathan Culp
2-1, 1.46 ERA

In frigid conditions of early April in Fort Wayne, left-hander Nathan Culp pitched six perfect innings before the relief corps allowed a pair of singles in the ninth. Although his no-hitter and perfect game were broken up, Culp had a very good month – and started off May with another win in dominant fashion. In 24.2 innings he only allowed 15 hits with a K/BB ratio of 22/3 with batters hitting only .174 against him.

Middle relief pitcher Rolando Valdez has also been impressive striking out 12 batters in 11 innings against only 7 hits and one base-on-balls. Top prospect Drew Miller after having a tough first two starts, has been much better in his last two to finish the month with a 1-2 record and 3.66 ERA. Miller only allowed 15 hits in 19.2 innings work with a K/BB ratio of 21/8. RJ Rodriguez was 5 for 5 in save opportunities despite allowing a few too many chances as batters hit .297 against him.

Disappointments: Aaron Breit is one of the best pitchers in the Padres' organization, but he had a forgettable first month in the Midwest League going 1-3 with an 8.10 ERA as batters teed off at a .347 clip against him. Pitcher of the Month for April – Sean Thompson

"I am worried about winning – and these guys all feel the same way," Thompson said of his Double-A teammates. "Winning is a wonderful thing and being in the mood to play the game everyday – it is different. The right things are happening to the right people. There are too many difference makers on this team to keep us down."

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