Padres Prospects: April Players of the Month

The Portland Beavers paced the organization with 17 homers. The San Antonio Missions had the best batting average. The Lake Elsinore Storm stole the most bases. The Fort Wayne TinCaps notched the most walks. But who earned top honors individually in April? John Conniff sorts out the mess.

Portland Beavers
Kyle Blanks

Others of Note: Will Venable, Drew Macias, Eliezer Alfonzo

Blanks has picked up where he left of after his big season in San Antonio last year leading the Beavers in hits (23) and home runs (3) and being in the top three in every other offensive category for Portland. If you have followed his career since he first signed with the team in 2005, you know he can hit, the big question is where will he fit in with the big club? We may have the answer later in the year, as he is starting to take balls in left field before games; although it still seems as if many in the Padres front office have mixed feelings if he can handle the outfield.

Prospect Watch: Second baseman Matt Antonelli has been rehabbing a bum knee and has still not made it back to the Northwest. Venable came up and turned some heads last year in San Diego and continued to push for a major league job in Portland, hitting .286/.371/.558 . Macias may be the biggest sleeper in the organization and will be the guy acquiring frequent flyer miles from Portland to San Diego. In the meantime, he's found the time to put up good numbers in Triple-A, hitting .304 with a 12/8 BB/K ratio in 68 plate appearances.

Disappointments: Peter Ciofrone was one of the best players in Portland last year, but started out this year in a horrific slump at .164/.266/.218.

San Antonio Missions
Craig Cooper

Others of Note: Luis Durango, Eric Sogard, Mike Baxter

Craig Cooper has always been able to do everything well, hit for average, get on base and is arguably the best defensive first baseman in the organization. The big problem was his power, he just didn't have enough for the corner OF/1B positions. This month, in the toughest park for a right-handed hitter, Cooper has put up his best numbers, leading the team in, hits (27), doubles (5) and slugging percentage.

Prospect Watch: The bespectacled Sogard, who led the Cal League in doubles with 42 while posting an OBP of .394 could be pushing Matt Antonelli as the heir apparent at second. This month he hit .307/.447/.453, and if he can show he can handle the position defensively, he will push Antonelli. Durango has bulled his way up the organization ladder with his speed and exceptional batting eye and appears to have made another jump. The big knocks on Durango always were his arm and the routes he took to the ball, both of which have improved, and his judgment on the basepaths, which also seems to have improved in swiping 13 of 15 bags while hitting .316 with a .388 OBP. Mitch Canham again shows that he has exceptional strike zone judgment with a .298/.420/.404 line, but the big question with him is how far he can come in his development as a catcher. Baxter, who is perennially written off, keeps improving and finding ways to put himself into the equation with a .316/.379/.468 mark, tying with Cooper for the lead in extra base hits.

Disappointments: Cedric Hunter with an .185/.241/.235, which is not the type of numbers you want to see from the 2009 #1 prospect.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Logan Forsythe

Others of Note: Lance Zawadzki, Felix Carrasco

The first thing we need to know about Forsythe is he beat out the highly regard James Darnell for the third base job in Lake Elsinore, who we will discuss in the Fort Wayne section, so we know he's pretty good. Forsythe led the team in hits (21), extra base hits (7), walks (17),and posted a very strong 17/14 BB/K ratio while playing a very strong defensive third base.

Prospect Watch: Felix Carrasco shocked some people with winning the everyday job at first for the Storm, but then again when you hit .212/.359/.296 with 77 strikeouts in 219 plate appearances in the second half in Fort Wayne it doesn't engender much confidence. Carrasco appears to have turned it around, hitting .296/.414/.493 this month. He still struck out at a decent clip, with 21 in 83 plate appearances, but tied for the lead in extra base hits with seven, was second in walks with 12 and led the team with 13 RBI. Shortstop Lance Zawadzki missed half the month, but when he came back he was a ball of fire, hitting .355/.459/.742 with a team leading four home runs and 11 RBI in 10 games. Zawadzki is a middle infielder with five-tool talent and is someone to watch.

Disappointments: Second baseman Cole Figueroa, a highly regarded middle infield prospect out of Florida, got off to a tough start with a .184/.245/.204 line.

Fort Wayne TinCaps
James Darnell

Others of Note: Drew Cumberland, Jaff Decker

Darnell is the embodiment of the good that the Padres look for, power, a team leading 10 extra base hits, and patience, 22 walks in 78 plate appearances, but with questionable defense, five errors in 19 games. If you take out the errors, there is a lot to like, especially on offense with a 22/14 BB/K ration and being successful in 4-of-5 stolen base attempts. He's a premium athlete and is worth keeping an eye on; the question is if he has enough glove to stick at third.

Prospect Watch: Before he got hurt, speedy Cumberland was the catalyst for the TinCaps hot start, hitting .304/.418/.457 before going down with a sore quadriceps muscle. Decker joined the team late after suffering a concussion late in spring training but still looked sharp in his first seven games, hitting .238/.429/.476 in 28 plate appearances.

Disappointments: Allen Dykstra, the Padres first-round pick in 2008, struggled with a .188 batting average, but his peripheral numbers weren't that bad with a 15/18 BB/K ratio. When the weather warms up in Indiana so should he.

April Player of the Month: Craig Cooper

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