Players of the Month: July

The infield dominated much of the Player of the Month honors in July, proving that they too have the prowess to do significant damage. But who wins the overall award? John Conniff sorts it all out.

Portland Beavers
Frank Menechino
Second/Third Base

You have to admire the 36-year-old Menechino, 14 years of bouncing between the majors and minors and he's still plugging away, hoping for one more opportunity. This month he pounded the PCL with 29 hits in 69 plate appearances, 12 of them for extra bases. The Padres acquired him on June 10 from the Rockies and he's another versatile insurance policy in case someone goes down on the big club.

Prospect Watch: There isn't a whole lot to write about, but one guy who suddenly popped up on the radar this month is centerfielder Yordany Ramirez, who had the best month of his life, hitting .321/.356/.494 after being promoted from Lake Elsinore to fill in for some injuries and promotions. Ramirez has always been a spectacular fielder; the big question has always been his bat. This month he hit four home runs, but still needs to work on controlling the strike zone a little better, walking only three times in 84 plate appearances.

Disappointments: After a big first month, infielder Craig Stansberry has started to come back to earth, hitting .196/.392/.261.

San Antonio Missions
Matt Antonelli
Second Base

It's amazing how far Antonelli has come this year. Before the season, ESPN's Keith Law was writing how Antonelli profiled as a utility man at best on the major league level, now scouts are stating that he may be the best second baseman in the minor leagues. After dominating the California League, the Padres promoted him to San Antonio where he continued to show the power and patience skills that make him such an exciting player, nine extra-base hits in 62 at-bats, four of them home runs. Additionally, Antonelli had an 11/9 BB/K ratio and swiped three bags in four attempts.

"Last year, I was patient but perhaps too patient and not swinging at pitches I could drive," Antonelli said. "I still want to get my pitch but if I get it I want to put a good swing on it."

Prospect Watch: Catcher Nick Hundley delivered the type of month that many have predicted he was capable off on offense, hitting 265/.407/.647 and leading the team in home runs with eight and tied for second with 22 RBIs. Although the batting average isn't that great, he had a very good BB/K ratio of 16/15 and anytime you post a .400 + OBP you are doing something right at the plate. There is no question Hundley has the defensive skills and leadership ability to become a major league catcher; it's just if he can be consistent enough at the plate.

Third baseman Chase Headley "slowed" down a little with a .333/.455/.600 line but still led the team in RBIs with 24. Right-fielder Will Venable may be finally starting to turn the corner, posting his best power numbers of the year with a .307/.352/.455 with nine of his 31 hits going for extra bases. The Padres have always believed that Venable would hit and expected the power numbers to come later this year or next in Portland. Finally, first baseman/DH Brett Bonvechio came back after rehabbing a season long knee injury to bat .313/.410/.594.

Disappointments: Shortstop Luis Cruz continues to regress after a good season in Double-A Mobile last year with a .221/.259/.312 numbers.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Juan Ciriaco

After struggling in Double-A for the second straight year, the Padres sent Ciriaco down to the Arizona League to revamp his swing and it's paid off. Ciriaco was one of the hottest players in the system this month, punishing the Cal League with eight of his twenty three hits going for extra bases, four of them home runs. Like Ramirez in Portland, he's not drawing a whole lot of walks, two in 62 plate appearances, and while the numbers are encouraging, how much can his plate discipline really improve?

Prospect Watch: If Chase Headley was not in San Antonio, third baseman David Freese would be in San Antonio right now. Instead he just keeps chugging along, hitting .309/.420/.445 with eight extra base hits and a team leading 23 RBIs.

Disappointments: A tough month for outfielder Nic Crosta who continues to struggle this year, hitting only .164/.266/.327.

Fort Wayne Wizards
Jeremy Hunt
First Base/DH

"I am finding out how my body works and what is best for me," said Hunt. "Sometimes I will tweak stuff if I don't see the right result."

It wasn't a great month in Fort Wayne, but Hunt bounced back from a tough June where he hit .211 to put together a good month. Hunt needs to work on improving his 3/13 BB/K ratio and is going to have to show a little more power if he's going to contend for an everyday position in Lake Elsinore next year.

Prospect Watch: Cedric Hunter's average has fluctuated for the most part this season between .267 and .275 and this month was no exception hitting .267/.339/.367. The Padres will let you know that they see improvement, but right now he's going to have to improve his plate discipline and power numbers if he's going to justify his elite prospect status.

Disappointments: A bad month for catcher Matt Stocco, hitting only .120/.182/.180.

Eugene Emeralds
Luis Durango

"I am concentrating on getting my bunts down and I am always trying to keep the ball on the ground since I have good speed and that is all I really need to be successful," Durango said.

Last year in the Arizona Rookie League, Durango had as good a year as anyone outside of Cedric Hunter, hitting .378/.470/.448 and has picked up where he left off with the Ems this year. In 126 at-bats he had 11 extra base hits, seven of them triples. Durango is as fast as anyone in the organization. The big question is does he have the ability to stay in centerfield?

Prospect Watch: Third baseman Justin Baum, a seventh-round draft pick out of Pacific, had a nice month hitting .309/.393/.588. Baum led the team in home runs [7] and RBIs [22] for the month. Before he got injured, catcher Mitch Canham, out of Oregon State, was ticketed for Fort Wayne. Canham, the left-handed hitting catcher was hitting .353 in only eight games. Canham has just come back and could be one of this year's draft picks ticketed for Lake Elsinore next year.

Disappointments: First round supplemental pick right fielder Kevin Kulbacki was supposed to have an easier time in the Northwest League than he is now, hitting .248/.319/.352 with 30 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances. The numbers aren't bad, but they are below expectations for someone coming out of college with his reputation.

Arizona Rookie League Padres
Yefri Carvajal

The 18-year-old Carvajal played all three outfield positions, tied for the team lead in RBIs and 10 of his 24 hits were for extra bases, which earned him a promotion to Eugene. He needs to work on his plate discipline 5/18 BB/K ratio and his defense could use some improvement, but he may be the most exciting player in the Padres short-season leagues. Carvajal hit his first home run in Eugene, the first of what should be many to come.

"Before, I used to open up too early," Carvajal admitted. "Now I am working on staying a little more closed."

Prospect Watch: Second baseman Keoni Ruth, a Hawaiian native, and 22nd round draft pick out of Concordia College, had a big month, hitting .424 before being promoted to Lake Elsinore, before ending up in Eugene. Third baseman Edgar Garzon also put together a nice month, hitting .306/.398/.429 along with outfielder Robert Perry, who demonstrated that he belonged at higher levels with .424/.511/.725 in nine games before moving on to Lake Elsinore and then Fort Wayne. Shortstop Jeudy Valdez hit .319/.356/.457.

Disappointments: First baseman Jose Mayi has been given a lot of playing time, but so far not much production .221/.312/.353.

Player of the Month for July: Matt Antonelli

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