Padres Prospects: June Players of the Month

The home run stroke of two hitters are starting to come around while two more hitters continue to show they can rake at any time. With so many talented prospects, John Conniff sorts through the mystery to come up with a Player of the Month in June for the San Diego Padres chain.

Portland Beavers
Brian Myrow

Myrow just keeps chugging along with his worst month of the year, yes a .474 OBP was is his worst, which is an indication just how well he is swinging it. Eight of his twenty-seven hits were for extra bases and he had an impressive 27/21 BB/K ratio. So the million-dollar question continues to be whether the Padres are going to give this guy a chance? If not, then who? Despite the fact that he will turn 32 in September, someone has to take a chance on him, possibly even the Padres "natural" rivals to the north, Seattle.

"I don't know, I look at pitches sometimes, sometimes I feel that I can't hit them. Sometimes I foul off too many pitches; it is easier for a guy too walk that fouls off pitches than a guy that swings and puts the ball in play every time. I attribute it to that, I just try to swing at strikes and try to put a pitch in play."

Prospect Watch: Will Venable turned in some nice numbers, hitting .316/.404/.432 with eight of his 30 hits going for extra bases and playing 26 of 27 games in center with only one error. Right fielder Chip Ambres, 28, also had a nice month, hitting .287/.352/.574 and catcher Nick Hundley had his moments this month with four home runs and 19 RBIs but still needs to make more consistent contact with a .241/.284/.422 line.

Disappointments: The good news is second baseman Matt Antonelli's bat showed some signs of life this month. The bad news was it still much less than any of us expected at this point in the season for him at .216/.316/.268.

San Antonio Missions
Kyle Blanks

Blanks had by far his best month, leading the team in extra base hits, home runs and RBIs. This season he has been coming up big, hitting .335 with runners in scoring position and .342 with runners on and two outs.

"My hands are close to where they were at the end of last year and maybe a little bit of a wider base, if not the same," Blanks said of his stance. "I am just trying to shorten everything up and keep everything compact."

Prospect Watch: A very big bounce back month for perennial favorite shortstop Sean Kazmar. After hitting .203 in April and .196 in May, Kazmar hit .356/.423/.448 for June and saw his errors drop to two from eight and six the previous months.

Centerfielder Drew Macias is second in the Texas League in walks [51 as of July 1] and seems to have found his niche as a gap hitter who can get on base and continued his strong showing after a tough April, hitting .333/.482/.417. Catcher Jose Lobaton appears to like his role as the regular catcher with a .302/.362/.651 and right fielder Mike Baxter continues to hit at .314/.400/.500.

Disappointments: Although .264/.347/.345 isn't horrible, left fielder Chad Huffman has had much better months and catcher Colt Morton continues to struggle at .161/.203/.321.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Kellen Kulbacki
Right Field

Kulbacki will drive you mad. In Fort Wayne, he hit .164 his first month; with the Storm he hit .221; then he does this. Twelve of his 27 hits go for extra bases, nine of which were home runs, and he has a BB/K ratio of 17/20. He did the same thing in August in Eugene last year, so when he is on, just stand back and enjoy.

"My swing is a lot more comfortable than it was towards the end of the season, and the changes we made during Instructs are really paying off," Kulbacki said.

Prospect Watch: The Storm hit .300 as a team and posted a .373 on-base percentage, so the guys can hit. Second baseman Eric Sogard bounced back from a down May to hit .333/.409/.500 and catcher Mitch Canham .321/.396/.512, showed more power than he has in any other month. Because his bat is producing, Sam Carter, 25, is producing at first, right field and DH – pretty much wherever the Storm puts him with a .323/.402/.566, leading the team in extra base hits for the month with 13 and RBIs at 23, although he is hitting .331 on the road and .208 at the Diamond. In only 17 games, Rayner Contreras had the best average at .361 to go along with a .410 OBP and a .500 slugging percentage. Utility man Keoni Ruth also hit with a .357/.400/.464 line.

Disappointments: Javis Diaz, after hitting .357 in April, has struggled since, hitting .178 and .222 in May and June, respectively.

Fort Wayne Wizards
Robert Perry

After being demoted in late May, outfielder Robert Perry has found his stroke that was missing in Lake Elsinore with seven of his 32 hits going for extra bases and an 11/14 BB/K ratio. Perry gave credit for his turnaround to Wizards' hitting coach Tom Tornicasa.

"I literally took three or four swings off of a tee and Tourny told me right there I wasn't keeping my shoulders square. Right there it just turned everything around," said Perry. "Sometimes the smallest thing can make the biggest difference."

Prospect Watch: Shortstop Drew Cumberland was having a big month .432/.500/.523 in his first 44 at-bats before going down with a rib injury. The only downside is his defense is still a work in progress with five errors. Third baseman Justin Baum continues to be steady at the plate with a .275/.359/.527 numbers, the type of hitter that the organization likes – patient and can hit the ball in the gaps with a team leading 14 extra base hits.

Luis Durango shined in limited opportunities with a .299/.413/.358 line. Durango stole seven bases in nine attempts and had a BB/K ratio of 13/7. Right now, his defense in the outfield is the only thing holding him back and that there are quite a few quality outfielders in Fort Wayne. Centerfielder Brad Chalk rebounded from a bad May where he hit .196 to post a .359/.432/.410 line and has yet to be caught stealing this year with 10 stolen bases. On a team with several players that can play center, Chalk is the best defensively, which is saying something. Finally, former SDSU product, shortstop Lance Zawadzki had his best month at the plate hitting .294/.354/.412.

Disappointments: Midwest League home run champ first baseman Felix Carrasco had a power shortage with a .247/.373/.388 line. His OBP is impressive but needs to cut down on 41 strikeouts in 26 games.

Eugene and Arizona began their seasons in mid-June. We will add the final two weeks of June with July next month.

Player of the Month: Kellen Kulbacki

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