Padres Prospects: July Pitchers of the Month

With several pitchers throwing sub-2.00 ERAs on the board, Pitcher of the Month needed to be handled discreetly. John Conniff staked it out and amazingly came away with a winner at each affiliate and the overall king of the month.

Portland Beavers
Josh Geer
1-0 3.75 ERA
Position: RHP/SP

In five of his six starts, Geer went five innings or more and in three of them he went seven. Although his K/BB numbers of 22/10 are not great, he is never going to be knows as a strikeout pitcher. Instead, he will rise and fall on how well he is able to keep his sinker down in the zone, forcing batters to pound the ball into the dirt and eat innings. In July, he allowed less hits, 35, than innings pitched, 36, for the first time and generally kept the ball in the park only allowing three home runs and 15 earned runs for his lowest ERA in Portland. Geer also held PCL batters to the lowest batting average of any Beaver starter with more than five starts at .261.

"I have a reputation as a strike thrower so it helps me out sometimes when it isn't a strike," Geer said. "Early in the count, you throw a purpose pitch inside to keep them honest."

Prospect Watch: Wade LeBlanc had the best K/BB ratio of any starter at 27/8 but was a little too hittable at times, as batters hit .309 against him as he allowed 30 hits in 25 innings pitched. Newly acquired Chad Reineke pitched well in two starts with the Beavers striking out 10 in 12 innings against five walks and 11 hits. Cesar Ramos was 2-0 with a 3.99 ERA but, as he has throughout his whole career, does not post peripherals that inspire confidence with PCL batters hitting him at a .309 clip. Finally, Dirk Hayhurst continues to glide along in middle relief with a 2-1 record and a 2.76 ERA. His only negative was that he had an uncharacteristic nine walks in 16 innings, but still struck 16 and only allowed 14 hits, as batters hit .230 against him.

Disappointments: Justin Germano continues to struggle in Triple-A, going 0-2 with a spooky 6.66 ERA in five starts. Closer Edwin Moreno struggled in the closer role failing in 4-of-11 opportunities, as 10 walks in 15.1 innings came back to haunt him, despite holding batters to a .179 average.

San Antonio Missions
Stephen Faris
2-2, 2.12 ERA
Position: RHP/SP

Stephen Faris was the narrow winner for the best staff in the Padres' organization culminating in a brilliant one-hit performance against Corpus Christi on July 30. Faris only allowed eight earned runs in six starts and less hits, 33, than innings pitched, 34, which is always impressive for a starter.

"Every game is different," Faris said. "You have to adjust. I feel like as I get into the latter innings I get better. I have been working a lot on keeping the ball down and getting ahead of the batters."

Prospect Watch: Manny Ayala had his best month this season after coming off of an arm injury earlier this year with a 3-1 record and a 2.54 ERA. In five starts, he averaged just less than six innings per start, holding batters to a .196 average. Michael Ekstrom, after struggling in the rotation, seems to have found a home in the bullpen, striking out 27 batters in 22 innings pitched against only five walks. Matt Buschmann was 1-0 with a 2.54 ERA but struggled with walks as he had an inverse K/BB ratio of 10/12 but still only allowed eight earned runs.

Disappointments: After a great first three months, closer Greg Burk came back down to earth in July with an 8.71 ERA blowing 3-of-7 save opportunities. Will Inman, while not having a bad month with a 3.32 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21.1 innings, struggled with his command walking 21 batters.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Nathan Culp
4-1, 1.78 ERA
Position: LHP/SP

The slight left-hander only allowed six earned runs in five starts, as his ERA was nearly two points lower than the nearest Storm starter. Culp had a solid 17/3 K/BB ratio and only allowed one home run in a league full of mini Coors Fields.

"Usually my two-seam fastball is my best pitch, but I've been trying to not throw it as much," Culp said. "I'll kind of fall in love with it and throw it too much. I've been trying to throw more curves and changes."

Prospect Watch: This season, Drew Miller's two biggest challenges were to learn to use his changeup more and become more effective with his two-seam fastball. After a tough June that saw his ERA balloon to 9.82, he got back on track with a solid performance in July in which for the first time he allowed less hits than innings pitched, 24/26 and held Cal League batters to a .245 average. RHP Rolando Valdez had the second best ERA on the staff with a 3.52 ERA in five starts with 15/5 K/BB ratio. Wilton Lopez took over the closer's role and was 8-for-8 with a 0.66 ERA with a 10/2 K/BB ratio in 13.2 innings.

Disappointments: R.J. Rodriguez lost his closer's job and caught a little too much of the plate with a 9.29 ERA and batters hitting .329 against him. The good news is that he went 2-0 and hopefully will be given an opportunity to pitch in a much better pitcher's park next year in San Antonio.

Fort Wayne Wizards
Wynn Pelzer
3-1, 1.38 ERA
Position: RHP/SP

Pelzer continues to improve and demonstrate that he is a much better pitcher than his ninth-round selection in the 2007 draft indicated. Pelzer throws a very good two-seam fastball along with a slider and a developing change that is having more and more success, as Midwest League batters could only manage a paltry .206 average against him, as he allowed only four earned runs in five starts. He struck out 21 against five walks and allowed only 20 hits in 26 innings.

"It's mostly two-seamers about ninety percent of the time, mainly because I get pretty good run and sink on it, so I will take the movement over the velocity," Pelzer said of using the two-seam fastball.

Prospect Watch: Even though batters hit .321 against him and he posted a 5.27 ERA, I am a Jeremy McBryde fan. Why? He struck out 30 batters in 27.1 innings pitched against only three walks and throws a consistent low 90's sinking fastball. When he decides to vary speeds and throw his slider or change, he is very tough. When he doesn't, batters have 36 hits in 27.1 innings, as they did this month. Jeremy Hefner has been the best pitcher in Fort Wayne this year and this month he put in another good performance with a 2-1 record and 3.09 ERA, allowing only 24 hits in 32 innings pitched. Jackson Quezada continues to be the organization's best closer going a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities with a 1.93 ERA.

Disappointments: Colt Hynes, the closer for the Emeralds last year, had a tough month, as Midwest League batters hit .349 against him in route to a 5.65 ERA.

Eugene Emeralds
Rob Musgrave
3-1, 3.63 ERA
Position: LHP/RP

The Emeralds are full of late round draft picks that are attempting to make the most of their opportunities and this year's 14th-round draft pick Rob Musgrave put in a solid performance for Eugene. The former Wichita State Shocker struck out 29 batters in 17.1 innings against only two walks and 17 hits.

"I am just trying to go out and throw strikes," Musgrave said. "I have been able to work ahead and am trying to pitch to contact – do anything I can to help out the team."

Prospect Watch: Big right-hander Simon Castro has a huge fastball and can blow away quite a few batters, as he did this month striking out 27 in 23 innings with batters only hitting .227 against him. The negative side is he is still walking too many batters, 15, something the Padres don't have a history of putting up with. Anthony Bass has assumed the quasi-closer role in Eugene and was a perfect 3-for-3 in save opportunities to go along with a 1.98 ERA and a 17/8 K/BB ratio. Kyle Heyne, a big right-hander from Ball State, put together some nice peripheral statistics allowing only 12 hits in 17.2 innings to hold batters to a .190 average despite a 4.58 ERA.

Disappointments: Everyone is rooting for ex-Marine Cooper Brannan to make it, but he had a tough time in the Northwest with batters hitting .441 against him in 7.2 innings for a 10.57 ERA.

Arizona Rookie League Padres
Stiven Osuna
4-1, 2.70 ERA
Position: RHP/SP

The 6-foot-3 slight Venezuelan threw the most innings, 30.1, had the most wins and arguably the best peripherals. He allowed less hits than innings pitched, 26/30.1 and his K/BB was 23/3. Osuna, 21, allowed only nine earned runs in six starts as batters hit .236 against him.

"He knows how to pitch," DSL Padres manager Evaristo Lantigua said. "He has a great changeup and a very good idea about running the game."

Prospect Watch: Jose DePaula had a good K/BB ratio of 23/3 but caught far too much of the plate, as batters hit .330 against him for a 0-2 record and 4.84 ERA. Colin Lynch, 23, had a nice K/BB ratio of 16/5 in 13.1 innings pitched but age is against him at this level in addition to a 0-3 record and a 6.23 ERA.

Disappointments: Australian Josh Davies had a tough month, as batters hit .354 against him to go along with a 6.75 ERA.

DSL Padres
Juan Oramas
1-0, 1.27 ERA
Position: RHP

The left-hander worked 21.1 innings and allowed just seven hits, keeping the opposition to a .101 average against while striking out a team high 24. He did walk 14 but still managed a WHIP of 0.98.

Oramas has allowed three earned runs since June 2, spanning 34 innings for a 0.79 ERA. For the year, the Mexico native is holding opponents to a .123 average. In two starts, he has allowed no runs and three hits over 11 innings.

Prospect Watch: Pedro Hernandez posted a 1.45 ERA but also saw eight unearned runs cross in 18.2 innings. He struck out 22 against only two walks and held the opposition to a .225 average. Pedro Martinez kept the opposition to a .186 average but also walked a team high 15 in 20.2 innings.

Disappointments: Stalyn Valdez allowed 33 base runners in 17.2 innings, as opponents hit.293 off him. He went 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA for the month. Juan Rosario saw 12 runs cross on 14 hits over 12 innings, going 0-2 with a team high 7.50 ERA and team high .298 average against.

Pitcher of the Month: Wynn Pelzer

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