Padres' youngsters contributing

Josh Geer and Mike Ekstrom were teammates on the 2007 Texas League champion San Antonio squad but seemed to be headed in opposite directions, despite the fact the Ekstrom clinched the crown with a dominating performance.

After being named the Texas League Pitcher of the Year in 2007, Josh Geer had to prove himself again in Triple-A. The 25-year-old was stellar with San Antonio, but could he do it again?

After going 16-6 with a 3.20 ERA for Double-A San Antonio last season, Geer was 8-9 with a 4.54 ERA in 27 starts with Portland. He also gave up 187 hits, including 22 homers, in just 166.2 innings.

They weren't the numbers that many had hoped to see. But, he got the call from San Diego and has impressed with his strike zone efficiency and ability to keep hitters off-balance.

In three starts with the Padres, Geer is showing signs of being a major league prospect.

His three lines are almost identical. Against both Colorado at home and Milwaukee, Geer allowed two runs over five innings. The seven hits he allowed the Brewers were two more than he gave up to the Rockies. Against San Francisco, he again allowed two runs – this time over seven innings while yielding nine hits – to run his record to 2-0.

Truly a mark of consistency – the staple of his game at the minor league level.

"I believe I can win at any level," Josh Geer, with no hint of bravado, said.

"I've never met a good pitcher who doesn't have confidence," Padres manager Bud Black said after Geer ran hit record to 2-0.

A 3.18 ERA in three starts gives the Padres hope that Geer will develop into being a fifth starter next season.

"What I like is his composure," Black added. "He's thinking clearly. He knows what he has. He's pitching, not throwing."

Mike Ekstrom was on the outs. He had lost the effectiveness of his pitches after tearing through the California League in 2006. The slider that got batters rolling over on pitches was flat. His fastball wasn't fast, as the velocity had dropped by five miles per hour and more at times.

And then a funny thing happened – he was moved to the pen this year and was revitalized. It led to Ekstrom becoming the 14th player to make his major league debut this season for the Friars. He pitches two hitless innings on Wednesday at Petco Park.

Ekstrom, 25, was the Padres' 12th-round pick in 2004 out of San Diego's Point Loma Nazarene College.

"Getting called up by the Padres was a total surprise to me," said Ekstrom, who capped his major league debut by throwing a called third strike past Manny Ramirez.

"I was trying not to see who was coming up next," Ekstrom said. "But when he comes up, you know. For my first major league strikeout to come against a hitter like that ... personally, I couldn't be happier."

And it continues the major turnaround of his stuff – a direct correlation to the success that followed. Over his final 50 innings of work, Ekstrom posted a 2.34 ERA with a 9-3 record at Double-A. He allowed 13 runs over that stretch of 23 appearances, striking out 53.

Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards

MadFriars Top Stories