Padres Prospects: April Players of the Month

The Portland Beavers hitters led the organization in homers in April. The San Antonio Missions paced the quartet in doubles. The Lake Elsinore Storm led in RBIs. The Fort Wayne Wizards stole the most bases. But, who picked up the individual awards for April? John Conniff sorts out the mess.

Portland Beavers
Brian Myrow
.325/.461/.488
Position: 1B

Last year, Myrow won the Pacific Coast League batting title hitting with a .354 average, and he picked up where he left off in a frigid April in the Rose City. Myrow played in every game for the Beavers leading the team in hits with 26 and had a 20-to-19 BB-to-K ratio.

"Well, I would say that a repeat of last year would be a stretch," said Myrow. "It was my best offensive year of my career; I would like to have a good season. A good season would be hitting over .300, drive in a few runs, hit some homeruns, and have an on-base percentage of around .400. I would consider that a successful season for me."

So the $100,000 question is why isn't he in the big leagues right now? For San Diego it's pretty simple: he's limited to first base, which is where Adrian Gonzalez, arguably the Padres best player, is situated and the team would rather have the switch-hitting veteran Tony Clark, widely regarded as one of the best pinch-hitters in baseball, coming off the bench. So where does that leave the 31-year-old Myrow? Keep plugging away in Portland where he has the opportunity to play every day and hope that an opportunity could pop up as it did for Jack Cust last year.

Prospect Watch: Both shortstop Luis Rodriguez and centerfielder Will Venable endured some injuries during the month but hit when they were in the lineup. Rodriguez hit .400/.464/.540 in 14 games and struck out once in 50 at-bats. Venable, according to the Padres and the Beavers staff, played a solid centerfield defensively and showed considerably more pop than he did in San Antonio, putting together a line of .340/.353/.500 with seven extra base hits in 50 at-bats.

Jody Gerut, after being demoted by the big club, put together a solid outfield play for Portland and hit .316/.375/.595, leading the team with 12 extra base hits in 79 at-bats. Catcher Nick Hundley continues to shine defensively, throwing out 44-percent of runners that tried to steal against him with a .982 fielding percentage. Defensively, he's better than anyone San Diego has right now on the MLB roster. The question is can he hit at upper levels with a .237/.281/.458 line for this month. Right now, the answer is no, but Hundley is always much stronger as the season goes on.

Disappointments: Two of the Padres brightest position prospects endured brutal months with second baseman Matt Antonelli hitting .195/.333/.378 and left fielder Chase Headley at .242/.317/.396. Antonelli's peripheral statistics aren't that bad with a BB-to-K ratio of 15-to-17 and nine of 16 hits were for extra bases – it's more of a question of trying to hit in too many pitchers counts. Headley, after a rough adjustment period, seems to be turning the corner, but 26 strikeouts in 23 games is tough.

San Antonio Missions
Kyle Blanks
.300/.426/.438
Position: 1B

Except for power, Blanks put up a very good first month with the Missions, posting an 18-to-7 BB-to-K ratio and playing a very good defensive first base with a .988 fielding percentage. He finished second on the team in RBIs and a third of his hits went for extra bases. Nelson Wolf stadium is a tough place to hit home runs and Blanks stats should go up as he goes on the road more.

"In spring, my feet were working a whole lot better than when I first got there," Blanks said of his defensive improvement. "My hands are working better. Taking those steps forward. I feel a lot better around the base. Fielding – a little more range and hands a little bit. Around the base I feel great."

Prospect Watch: The Padres seem to have finally settled on a permanent position for Seth Johnston (third base) and the native Texan hit .264/.324/.517, leading the squad in home runs (4) and RBIs (17) and showing some of the power the organization always believed that he had. His only negative this month was a .915 fielding percentage. Josh Alley began the year as the team's fourth outfielder but after hitting .296/.424/.463, he now finds somewhere in the lineup nearly every day. Alley has a career OBP of .392 and despite his small stature, 5-foot-9, he has usually found a place in the lineup.

Right fielder Craig Cooper continues to hit at .318 clip and get on base regularly (.392 OBP), but he needs to show more power as a combination first baseman/corner outfielder than his .424 slugging percentage to have a chance at the MLB level. Left fielder Chad Huffman may still be the best prospect with the Missions and he was up and down in April but still finished with a respectable line of .273/.351/.414. The only big negative was his usually excellent K-to-BB ratio was a higher than usual this month than in the past at 12-to-21.

Disappointments: Both centerfielder Drew Macias, .215/.333/.409, and shortstop Sean Kazmar, .203/.304/.291, struggled. The good news is both of them were hitting much better at the end of the month and seem to be digging themselves out of their slumps, but this is Macias' third year in Double-A and Kazmar spent half the year up there last year. Both should be performing better.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Eric Sogard
.388/.496/.553
Position: 2B

When Lake Elsinore hits .278/.368/.398 as a team, the bar is pretty high. Sogard jumped pretty high over it. He walked 24 times in 27 games against only 10 strikeouts and led the team with 40 hits, 15 of which were doubles, runs scored with 24 and was second in RBIs with 20, despite not hitting a home run.

"You are always trying to get better in every aspect," said Sogard. "I have been swinging the bat well and playing solid defense. It is a good start. You are always trying to improve so when improvement comes it is even better."

Prospect Watch: Centerfielder Cedric Hunter showed what he could do when surrounded by some talent, hitting .314/.408/.362. Most of us would like to see a little more power, especially if he could run more with his speed but to be performing the way he is at 20 is impressive. Javis Diaz hit .337/.375/.510, finishing second on the team in home runs and RBIs but 24 strikeouts in 22 games is a bit of a concern for the type of hitter that he is. Outfielder Sam Carter, .306/.379/.506, and first baseman Jeremy Hunt,.283/.394/.489, will have to fight the labels that they are "old for the league" but they still turned in solid performances.

The Padres have always believed that catcher Mitch Canham will hit, and despite a .256 batting average, he posted a very good OBP (.385). The big question is if he could handle the defensive demands of the position. He has a .985 fielding percentage but is going to have to work on containing the running game, only throwing out 25-percent of runners attempting to steal.

Disappointments: Robert Perry, after a strong year last season at three different levels of the organization, got off to a slow start, hitting .183/.310/.254, and third baseman Tom King also performed below par, hitting .148/.188/180.

Fort Wayne Wizards
Andrew Parrino
.328/.466/.534
Position: 2B/SS/3B

Despite not having a regular position, Parrino, 22, found a way to lead the Wizards in runs with 16 and was in the top three with hits at 19, despite having 15 to 20 less at-bats than the others above him. Parrino is the type of player that everyone pulls for, a 27th-round draft pick in the 2007 draft out of Le Moyne, a small school in upstate New York.

"It would be nice (to have a defined role) but I can help the team at second, short and third," Parrino said. "Wherever they need me, I will play."

Prospect Watch: For all of the Padres fans clamoring for speed, the Wizards are the fastest team in the organization. A line of .250/.299/.313 may not be that impressive on the surface, but for Drew Cumberland, 18, less than a year removed from high school and competing against players three to four years older, it is impressive. He finished second on the team with hits (20) and led the team in stolen bases with eight in 11 attempts. His defense at shortstop is going to have to pick up at .899, but the Padres are confident he has the athletic ability to get it done. Brad Chalk (.386 OBP) and Danny Payne (.484 OBP in eight games) have both been rotating in center field and both are the same types of players with high OBP and not much power, although Payne may have a little more pop.

Disappointments: The Latin contingent – Luis Durango, .239/.338/.284, Felix Carrasco, .222/.269/.417 and Yefri Carvajal, .207/.237/.322 have all struggled in the cold and against more off-speed pitches. Carrasco has provided some upside, leading the team in home runs (4) and RBI's (17) but 35 strikeouts in 21 games against only five walks shows a need for plate discipline. Also outfielder Kellen Kulbacki showed the effects of missing the last few weeks of spring training, hitting .164/.260/.295.

Madfriars.com Player of the Month: Eric Sogard

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