Players of the Month: August

With the short-season leagues in full swing the competition was more heated than usual during August. John Conniff gets out the protractor to measure which player deserves the top honors and which need further calculations.

Portland Beavers
Brian Myrow

After posting a batting average of .218 in May, Myrow has put together the following averages for the rest of the year .413, .370 and .356. He has been one of the few bright spots on an otherwise dismal Beaver team, finishing his year with Portland with 31 doubles, four triples and 13 home runs. The left-handed hitting Myrow is a great example of perseverance, a nine-year veteran of the minors who kept plugging away without much recognition despite a career .305 batting average and a .935 OPS. He is in San Diego because of his efforts.

Prospect Watch: Centerfielder Yordany Ramirez continues to prove the doubters wrong with a .339/.383/.464 line. He doesn't draw that many walks, four in 60 plate appearances or hit with much power, only three of his 19 hits were for extra bases; but if you combine those numbers with his defense, which is better than anyone in the organization, maybe even in San Diego, he's someone to keep an eye on. What he's done is impressive, but in his first 82 games this year with Lake Elsinore he hit .269/.298/.385 and he's a lifetime .250 hitter in six minor league seasons. So which is the real Yordany? He may have turned the corner, but it's still a little too early to tell.

"I moved a little closer to the plate and am trying to have a very good two-strike approach," Ramirez said. "If we see more pitches we can put the ball in play."

Disappointments: Even though he's recovery from injuries, this wasn't a great month for Paul McAnulty, 247/.345/.356, which may have cost him a call-up spot in September.

San Antonio Missions
Brett Dowdy

Utility man Dowdy capped off his best month of the season with a game winning single to clinch the second half title for the Missions in the final game of the month. Dowdy played six different positions in August, and his ability to not only play the positions but excel at them was one of the primary reasons behind the Missions 20-11 record.

"Being the little guy and not being the main guy on the map, I've had to battle my way and learn how to do the little things like base running," said Dowdy.

Prospect Watch: Left fielder Chad Huffman nearly took the honors in Double-A with a .267/.371/.476 line, leading San Antonio with 22 RBIs and six home runs. First baseman Tim Brown was the only other Mission of note coming in at .309/.443/.400.

Disappointments: August was the only bad month that both second baseman Matt Antonelli, .229/.338/.373 and third baseman Chase Headley, .250/.390/.380 had all year.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Craig Cooper

Cooper led the California League in batting average for the month with a smoking .406 average. The Storm have been playing Cooper much more in right field than they did earlier in the year to make room for both him and Kyle Blanks in the lineup next year in San Antonio, which doesn't use the DH as much. Surprisingly, August was not even his best month; he had a better OPS in May with a .366/.465/.624 line. One of the more underrated prospects in the system; look for some big numbers next year in Double-A from him.

"My first adjustment was to learn the strike zone for me, as I started getting better it was learning to lay off those tough pitches," Cooper said. "Over the years it's gotten better and better, it's something that I really focus on every year."

Prospect Watch: With a team batting average of .290, there is much credit to go around. Leadoff man and centerfielder Josh Alley hit .337 and led the team in walks with 13, which is all you can ask from someone at the top of the order. As he did last year in Fort Wayne, Mike Baxter had his best stretch of games in the last month of the season, hitting .333/.383/.417. A versatile player Baxter will be in the mix for an everyday outfield position in San Antonio next year. Third baseman David Freese had a bit of a down September, .276/.345/.469, but still was still tied for the team lead in RBIs with 19 and had a good BB/K ratio of 10/18.

Disappointments: August was a tough month for some of the Padres' better prospects as Kyle Blanks struggled with a .241/.305/.402 line.

Fort Wayne Wizards
Cedric Hunter

The last month of the season Hunter finally put together the type of month many of us envisioned he would have all season. Hunter led the Wizards in hits, walks and played a very good defensive centerfield. He began to show a glimpse of the gap power that he may develop more consistently later with 10 of his 33 hits going for extra bases. Look for some much better offensive numbers from him next year in the better hitting conditions of Lake Elsinore and a better team around him.

"I'm not batting .300, but batting .280 is all right with me," said Hunter. "It's pretty good pitching. I've never seen guys with this much control before. I've never seen the off-speed like this before, and a 140 game schedule is long too."

Prospect Watch: Third baseman Justin Baum, who was the Padres' 7th-round pick in the 2007 draft, put together a nice month with a .288/.354/.488 line and may have earned himself a ticket to Lake Elsinore to start his first full year of professional ball.

Disappointments: Eric Sogard and Tom King appear to be battling for next year's second base position with the Storm and neither one made much headway in August, Sogard with a .221/.284/.279 mark and King at .222/.317/.411.

Eugene Emeralds
Kellen Kulbacki

Kulbacki, the Padres second selection in the 2007 draft, finally delivered, as the team believed he was capable of all along. Thirteen of Kulbacki's 32 hits were for extra bases, and six went over the wall. Kulbacki led the team in RBI's and extra base hits and may be a candidate for the same type of jump Antonelli, Huffman and Cooper made last year.

"The first games I played professionally and I was kind of getting adjusted to the higher level of play," Kulbacki said. "Once you understand the concept things work out more."

Prospect Watch: Outfielder Luis Durango continues to pound out hits with 42 this month to go along with a .371/.422.405 line. He stole seven bases in 10 attempts and was a tough guy to strike out with only 13 whiffs in 127 plate appearances. UCSB's Robert Blauer also put together a nice month with a .309/.425/.392 line, but is going to have hit with some more power for a first baseman. Center fielder Danny Paye put together a nice month before being moved up to Fort Wayne with a .308/.439/.446 mark.

Disappointments: A tough month for Justin Pickett, .132/.150/.237, as he lost playing time at both catcher and first base.

Arizona Rookie League Padres
Drew Cumberland

Cumberland was the Padres third overall pick and the highest high school athlete selected by the Padres in the 2007 draft. The left-handed hitting Cumberland, 18, is an outstanding athlete; he was all-state in football at Florida and has put together a solid debut in his first season. He led the AZL Padres in hits with 24, although he had a very good BB/K ratio, 7/8, he could be a little more selective at the plate with only seven walks in 85 plate appearances. His 12 errors in 18 games are a bit of a concern, but there is much more to be excited about with Cumberland, such as a .333 average with runners in scoring position. He has a chance to challenge for a full season job next year in Fort Wayne.

"I am a leadoff type hitter that sprays the ball from gap-to-gap," Cumberland said.

Prospect Watch: Mexican native Edgar Garzon had a nice month in the desert, hitting .314/.364/.457 while dividing time between second and third.

Disappointments: Some mediocre performances from two college players, outfielders Zach Brown, .239/.363/.343, and Shane Buschini, .254/.321/.423, who should be much better against this level of competition with their experience.

Player of the Month: Kellen Kulbacki

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