While that offered up promise, many of the top players were shipped out of town or stayed in the bigs. For a team that ranked 13th in the league in team ERA and allowed 150 homers it was tough finding a reliable pitcher who could carry the load or break a losing streak.
Grady Fuson: "If you look at the last two or three years of Stauf its been about 50/50 in his approach and if he's going to get people out on the major league level. He hasn't really put together enough consistency yet. He has enough fastball, slider, change and curve but I think sometimes he thinks he's a strikeout pitcher when he really needs to be a guy that is pitching to contact. He really needs to hit his spots and this year was a big year for him."
Overview: We used a simple formula for the awards, whichever team the player or pitcher appeared at the most determined their eligibility. For the top prospect we took into account not only the future potential that the player or pitcher may have along with their performances, but also the needs of the organization which will allow them to rise the fastest.
Going to the dentist provides me with more pleasure than picking through this unimpressive squad. Jack Cassel had the slimmest ERA among the starters but also surrendered 203 hits, two hits shy of leading the entire minor leagues.
What is the mark of excellence when there is none. Instead of staying with convention – since there was none – I decided to take a different tact by looking for a pitcher who showed improvement from the start of the year until the end. We finally found our guy.
8-5, 4.34 ERA
The only starter with a winning record and one of three pitchers with more than one decision on the entire squad to be on the positive in the won-loss column, Stauffer, 25, improved from day one until the end of the season, his stints in San Diego notwithstanding.
After posting an ERA of 11.57 over his first month of action, Stauffer whittled it down to 4.34 to end the year. He wound up with 12 quality starts in 20 contests as a starter, posting eight straight to end the year with a 2.43 ERA over that span. Stauffer has seen his fastball touch where it was before surgery but had to learn to rely on his secondary pitches more than ever while spotting his fastball on the corners. He used to nibble too much and would catch the fat part of the plate when he missed, but he progressed in that area throughout the year.
Others of Note: Cassel would have been even better had his defense been on par with his stuff. He saw a lot of singles on the ground that could have been snared had the range in the infield been sufficient. Still, 25 double play grounders were impressive. Many of the bullpen arms that showed promise ended up elsewhere. Leo Rosales hurt his hand and was traded. Andrew Brown was shipped to Oakland. Royce Ring found a home in Atlanta. Justin Hampson, 27, Joe Thatcher, 26, and the early workings of Justin Germano, 24, all ended up helping the big league club.
One thing the Beavers did do well, as Denis stated above, was providing solid bullpen help to the Padres during the year with Hampson, Thatcher and Ring. Although the best, and this is as much a shock to me as anyone else, was Jared Wells, 25. Since being moved to the bullpen he put up some very good numbers in August with a 1-0 record and a 0.66 ERA with six saves.
8-5, 4.34 ERA
After the All-Star game, Tim Stauffer pitched as well as anyone in the organization with a 5-1 record and a 2.00 ERA in eight starts. He only allowed 12 earned runs in 54 innings and held PCL batters to a .213 average. Normally we would be writing that Stauffer seems to have turned the corner, but this was his third year in Portland, and he was absolutely hammered in two starts in San Diego with a 21.12 ERA.
Although Stauffer put up some of the best numbers that he has since 2004-2005, time appears to be running out for the Padres former number one draft pick. You wonder how a fourth year in Portland next year would benefit either side?
Others of Note: As Denis noted, Jack Cassel was betrayed most of the year by artificial surface, bandbox stadiums and a less than stellar defense behind him. Cassel has pitched well initially with the Padres, but it will be interesting to see how well he performs once the league has gotten to see a little more of him. Despite these obstacles, Cassel still pounded the strike zone for a K/BB ratio of 117/42.
Manager's Commentary – Rick Renteria: "His effectiveness was solid," he said of Stauffer. "He kept the ball down and hit both sides of the plate. I think he pitched with quite a bit of confidence."
Top Prospect: Jared Wells
Denis and John agreed on the top prospect
It was hard to call Wells the top prospect after he notched a 7.25 ERA as a starter, but he seemed to find a home out of the pen. What he lacked, as a starter, was the feel for an off-speed pitch and would get shelled with his two-pitch arsenal when teams got continued looks at him the first time through the lineup. As a reliever, Wells found a split-fingered fastball that acts as his changeup to compliment plus-slider and solid fastball, seeing success as his confidence rose. He wound up throwing shutout ball in his final 15 appearances, giving up eight hits while striking out 20.