Eugene Emeralds Pitcher of the Year

Summary: Fifty-nine points separated Eugene's ERA from last year – a lower mark that translated into a 40-36 record and a share of the Northwest League West division. They did fail to qualify for the playoffs and have not met that goal since 2000.

The pitching staff allowed fewer hits than innings pitched and finished fourth overall in the eight-team circuit with a 4.13 team ERA. They were second in hits allowed and shutouts, third in walks allowed and fifth in strikeouts.

Overview: We used a simple formula for the awards, whichever team the player appeared at the most determined their eligibility. For the top prospect we took into account not only what the players did this year, but their age and potential to get better.

Savage Sub-Rosa

Pitcher of the Year: Anthony Bass
Right-hander – 2-2, 2.10 ERA, seven saves

Runner-Up: Rob Musgrave
Left-hander – 6-1, 3.21 ERA

Thrust into an unfamiliar role, Bass excelled. After working as a starter in college, the right-hander was asked to close out games and notched seven in eight opportunities. He held the opposition to a .197 average against, yielding 25 hits in 34.1 innings, while fanning 41. He allowed earned runs in five of his 25 appearances.

Bass has a four-pitch repertoire out of a Tim Lincecum style delivery. He turns his back to the hitter as he goes through his windup and explodes out of his coil with a long leg extension to drive towards the plate. The maneuver, added in the last year, has pushed his velocity consistently into the 92-94 MPH range.

Between college and the pros, Musgrave posted a 18-2 record this season. His 14.14 strikeouts per nine innings led all short-season pitchers and was second overall throughout the minors. He held right-handed hitters to a .168 average across 107 at-bats. Musgrave also made the transition into the pen after starting in college and held an ERA under 3.00 until the final two games of the season. The Emeralds said they overused him as they were trying to reach the playoffs and his ERA suffered as a result.

The southpaw has a plus changeup that he can bury down in the zone to get strikeouts and was one of the best pitchers at getting ahead with first-pitch strikes, setting up the use of his secondary pitches. He will need to work on his curveball as he goes back into the rotation in '08.

Conniff Confidential

Pitcher of the Year: Simon Castro
Right-hander - 2-3, 3.99 ERA

Runner-Up: Rob Musgrave
Left-hander – 6-1, 3.21 ERA

Castro, 20, is a big, 6-foot-5, right-hander with giant upside, which means he has a very big fastball in the low-to-mid-90s. The problem has always been finding the plate and throwing something other than a heater.

This year, he turned the corner, especially with his changeup. His walks are still high at 64/29, but he struck out nearly a batter an inning in 65.1 innings and more importantly allowed less hits, 54, than innings pitched in 15 starts.

Musgrave was named to the Northwest League All-Star team at the end of the season and posted a solid K/BB ratio of 66/11, allowing 34 hits in 42 innings pitched. He was an All-American at Wichita State where he went 12-1 his senior year with a 2.51 ERA as a starter. He throws three pitches, his best being a changeup. He threw 111.1 innings in college so the Padres limited his innings to out of the pen. He'll be a starter next year in Fort Wayne.

Others of note: Tyson Bagley struck out 50 in 40.1 frames and kept the opposition to a .203 average but also walked 27. Simon Castro made tremendous strides from last year to this year, punching out 64 in 65.1 innings and posting a 3.99 ERA across 15 starts. Erik Davis improved as the year went on, keeping the opposition to a .200 average against while striking out 39 in 26.2 innings. Tom Davis scuffled at the end, giving up a team-high eight homers with a 8.59 ERA. Alexis Lara held the opposition to a .180 average but also had control problems, walking 28 in 29 innings. Pablo Menchaca posted a 3.76 ERA across 15 games and induced a team-high 11 double play grounders but was inconsistent. Geoff Vandel was consistent throughout, posting a 3.42 ERA and leading the team in innings pitched. Nick Vincent struggled at the end of the year in an unfamiliar role, ending the year with a 5.40 ERA.

Manager Commentary: "He is really smart. We have English classes and they were really impressed with how fast he picked up the English. He was the Latin leader on our team. He came two years in one summer." - Manager Greg Riddoch on Simon Castro.

(Denis) Top Prospect: Anthony Bass

While his fastball is a pitch that gets talked about first due to its accuracy and velocity, his other three pitches raise the bar even higher. He has command of all of the offerings and each has qualities that make them potential above average pitches on a given day.

He can throw each of his pitches over the plate for a strike in any count. Bass' changeup is a plus pitch after using it exclusively with the four-seam fastball in a wood bat league last summer. Bass came back to college and began mastering the slider, a wipeout pitch that gets a lot of swinging strikeouts. The curveball is a pitch that he uses less often and offers a different look.

Top Prospect: (John) Simon Castro

Castro has a tremendous amount of raw talent, but his secondary pitches must continue to improve if he is to have success at the next level. The Padres have worked hard at improving his mechanics while also forcing him to rely on pitches other than his big fastball while at the same time refining his command of the pitch.

Depending how well he improves in the success of his secondary pitches and fastball command, he has the chance to put together a special year in the Midwest League in 2009.

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