MadFriars.com Pitchers of the Month: June

Two relievers and two starters are in the running for MadFriars.com Pitcher of the Month for June. In the end, go with the guy in San Diego.

Portland Beavers
Royce Ring
3-0, 2.45 ERA
LHP/RP

Ring won the pitcher of the month again for Portland with another solid month in which he held batters to a .154 average and struck out 10 in 7.1 innings against only three walks. The big left-hander out of San Diego State may have earned himself a full time spot in San Diego where he continued his success with the Padres going 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in limited appearances.

Prospect Watch: As with everything in Portland, the term "prospect" will be used in its most expansive connotations. Relief pitcher Scott Cassidy has taken over the closer's role since Leo Rosales broke his pitching hand punching a brick wall in a tantrum after blowing his first save. Cassidy saved six out of seven save opportunities holding batters to a .263 average with an 11/2 K/BB ratio.

Disappointments: We've always been big fans of Clay Hensley but he's simply been awful in Portland. Hensley is 1-3 with a 6.68 ERA; he's given up 74 hits in 48.1 innings to go along with 24 walks against only 30 strikeouts. This month batters hit .331 against him allowing a team high six home runs. Obviously Hensley is a much better pitcher than he's shown so far, he just needs to start proving it.

San Antonio Missions
Paul Abraham
0-1, six Saves, 1.80 ERA
RHP/Closer

Since moving into the closer's role for the struggling Neil Jamison, Abraham seems to finally be hitting his stride in his third year in Double-A. According to San Antonio pitching coach Glenn Abbott, Abraham made a few adjustments at the beginning of the year which allows him to throw his fastball with more velocity down in the zone to go along with an improved slider. He was 6-for-6 in save opportunities and held batters to a .211 batting average in June.

"I love it. The more pressure the better," said Abraham. "The low octane or low adrenaline situations, where you just get a courtesy an inning in the ninth are OK. It's good to get your work in but you're really not feeling the pressure of the baseball game that you're getting in the 8th and 7th of a close game."

Prospect Watch: About six inches up. That the difference between Josh Geer being the pitcher of the month with a 4-0, 2.01 ERA in May and a 1-3 with a 4.78 ERA in June. Geer throws three pitches for strikes, but with him success is all a question of how far above the knees he leaves the pitch. Geer's K/BB ratio was still a solid 22/9; the problem was batters hit .315 against him as he allowed 47 hits in 37.1 innings. Right-hander Mike Ekstrom continues to struggle in San Antonio this month with a 2-2 record with a 5.40 ERA and is the same type of pitcher as Geer; it's all about his ability to get the low strike. At first glance, a 2-3 record with a 4.12 ERA and a 13/7 K/BB ratio in 39.1 innings isn't going to get a lot of attention, but somehow left-hander Cesar Ramos finds a way to get by. Batters only hit .232 against him, the lowest of any of the Missions starters.

Disappointments: Lefty Sean Thompson struggled in his last month in the Padres organization, going 1-3 with a 4.13 ERA.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Wade LeBlanc
2-3, 3.26 ERA
LHP/SP

Another close race between starters Wade LeBlanc and Manny Ayala, but we gave it to LeBlanc by an eyelash just because his peripheral statistics were too hard to beat. LeBlanc held batters to a .219 average, the lowest of any Storm starter and posted a ridiculous 40/4 K/BB ratio, and for the third straight month allowed fewer hits than innings pitched, 38/32.

"I think the biggest thing is keeping the ball down in the zone with whatever pitch I decide to throw and whatever count it is," LeBlanc said.

Prospect Watch: Ayala pitched well in his final month in Lake Elsinore with a 4-2 ERA to earn a promotion to San Antonio. Ayala had a solid 27/5 K/BB ratio but was a little hittable allowing 40 hits in 38 innings as batters hit .270 against him. Right-hander Matt Buschmann also had a nice month, winning three of his five starts for a 3-1 record with a 2.48 ERA. Buschman had a 22/5 BB/K ratio and allowed 25 hits in 29.1 innings pitched, as Cal League batters could only hit .231 against him. Buschman is another member of the 2006 draft class that has been major contributors to the Storm this year. Right-hander Greg Burke pitched well in middle relief with a 2-0 record and a 1.23 ERA. He didn't have any particular big K/BB ratios with a 12/7, but he did hold batters to a .208 average.

Disappointments: A tough month for Brent Carter, who last year seemed on the verge of really putting himself on the prospect map. This month Carter was 1-3 with a 10.88 ERA with batters hitting .414 against him, and that's not a typo.

Fort Wayne Wizards
Nathan Culp
3-0, 2.21 ERA
LHP/RP

A nice month for Culp before being promoted to Lake Elsinore. The former Mizzou Tiger won three of his four starts while holding batters to a .247 average. Not an overpowering pitcher, the quintessential "crafty lefty" throws four pitches at any time in the count. Lake Elsinore is going to be a big test for him.

"Just staying more balanced and compact and, out of stretch and windup, just keeping everything as simple as I can, which will allow me to throw more strikes," Culp said of his adjustments through the year.

Prospect Watch: As usual, closer R.J. Rodriguez had the one bad monthly outing which blew up his ERA to 7.84 against West Michigan where he went one-third of an inning and allowed five runs. Other than that he was 6-for-7 in save opportunities with two wins against no losses. Right-hander Drew Miller showed some signs of the potential that we believed in him at the beginning of the year, coming off of the DL with a 1-0 record in three starts. Miller had 17 strikeouts against four walks in 12.1 innings.

Disappointments: Right-hander Aaron Breit had another bad month with a 0-1 record and 6.29 ERA. Breit allowed 35 hits in 24.1 innings as batters hit .327 against him. His K/BB ratio was an average 22/9 as Breit was only able to go past five innings once in five starts.

Madfriars.com Pitcher of the Month:
Royce Ring


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