Padres Prospects: April Pitchers of the Month

Not surprisingly, the Fort Wayne TinCaps paced the organization in team ERA. They registered four shutouts during the month of April en route to a 15-5 start. San Antonio had the fewest amount of walks issued but also had the lowest strikeout totals. But who took the individual awards for April? Take a look inside...

Portland Beavers
Greg Burke
2-0, 0.90 ERA

Others of Note: Joe Thatcher, Jon Ellis

Burke is a great example of how quick someone can shed the label "organizational player" and morph into a prospect based on performance. Last year, he switched to a one-inning pitcher after being both a starter and a long reliever, and his velocity and success on the mound took off. This year he's picked up where he left off, striking out 11 in 10 innings pitched against only three walks and four hits. He saved 4-of-5 opportunities, as PCL batters could only manage an anemic .125 average against him. He could be a candidate for San Diego sooner rather than later.

Prospect Watch: Thatcher has the talent, the trouble is his funky delivery can cause problems in repeating his motion, which leads to control problems. He put up some solid numbers in April, with a 1.86 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 9.2 innings. The area of minor concern, though, is the five walks. Ellis did the job in long relief, picking up three victories with a 20/4 K/BB ratio in 15.1 innings.

Disappointments: Wade LeBlanc was not that bad, especially when you consider that he led the team in strikeouts with 21 against only eight walks , but with an 0-2 record and a team high 6.05 ERA, he should be better as someone going through the PCL for his second time.

San Antonio Missions
Stephen Faris
2-2, 1.99 ERA

Others of Note: Evan Scribner, Will Inman

Faris may be one of the more interesting sleepers in the Padres' organization, a pitcher whose velocity has actually increased from 88 to 92 since he was drafted in 2006 out of Clemson. In April, he held batter to a .217 average, the best of any of the Missions' starters, allowing only 18 hits and three walks in 22.2 innings pitched against 12 walks. As long as he keeps the ball down with his two-seamer and mixes in his changeup, he will be tough.

Prospect Watch: For some reason, the Padres have always been blessed with a stellar closer on the Double-A level and Scribner is not an exception to the rule. Scribner was 3-for-3 in save opportunities with 11 strikeouts in 8.2 innings against only three hits. The only negative was five walks in the amount of innings he threw, which is a little high. Inman continues to refine his delivery and was 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA. The big number for Will, who led the Texas League in strikeouts and walks last year, was a 17/3 K/BB ratio in 19 innings pitched.

Disappointments: Christopher Britton had a tough month, going 1-1 with an 11.25 ERA as batters teed off at a .425 clip.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Corey Kluber
3-1, 2.51 ERA

Others of Note: Jeremy McBryde, Wynn Pelzer, Bryan Oland

Kluber held Cal League batters to a .177 average, striking out 25 in 28.2 innings pitched against only 17 hits and 10 walks. The big right-hander appears to have rebounded from his struggles last year and led the Storm in starts and innings pitched.

Prospect Watch: McBryde has some of the best stuff in the organization with his hard low-90s sinking fastball; the key for him will be to develop his off-speed pitches. This month he was 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts and 14.2 innings pitched. The eye-popping statistic with McBryde is always his K/BB ratio, 20/2 to go along with the fact he only allowed nine hits, as Cal League batters hit a "robust" .180 against him. The only real negative is that three of the nine hits were home runs. Pelzer is another one of the gifted starters for the Storm has this year was 3-0 with a 4.19 ERA, striking out 19 batters against nine walks in 19.1 innings pitched, as batters could only hit .221 against him. Oland, who was so successful last year as Jackson Quezada's setup man in Fort Wayne, has ably filled in as the Storm's closer going 7-for-8 in save opportunities with 14 strikeouts in 12.1 innings pitched.

Disappointments: None. Not everyone performed up to what they and others would believe they are capable, but it's hard to ding anyone on this month's Storm staff for a subpar performance.

Fort Wayne TinCaps
Anthony Bass
2-1, 1.83 ERA

Others of Note: Brad Brach, Zach Herr, Eric Gonzalez

Bass was one of's sleeper prospects going into the season, and in April he did not disappoint. Bass led the TinCaps starters in ERA and posted an 18/7 K/BB ratio giving up only 17 hits in 19.1 innings pitched. He has a plus fastball and changeup, the key for him is the development of his curveball.

Prospect Watch: A big reason for the early success of the TinCaps was the dominance of their bullpen. In 31.1 combined innings, Brach, Herr and Gonzalez allowed four earned runs and struck out 36 against only four walks. Brach, the closer, was perfect in six opportunities, as batters hit a cartoonish .036 against the thin 6-foot-4 right-hander. Herr was 2-0 with a perfect 0.00 ERA, striking out 15 batters in nine innings against only three walks and two hits. Gonzalez, the workhorse of the trio with 13 innings pitched, struck out 12 against only one walk.

Disappointments: Again there is not much to pick on with a team that went 15-5, but both Nick Schmidt, 10 walks in 16.2 innings, and Simon Castro, 11 walks in 16.2 innings, would like to limit their free passes more in the future.

April Pitcher of the Month: Corey Kluber

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