Eugene Emeralds Pitcher of the Year

Summary: A mix of collegiate arms and second-year players looking to make their mark dotted the San Diego Padres short-season affiliate in the Northwest League in 2009. Some showed promise while others experienced growing pains.

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 of not what the players did this year, but their age and ability to improve.

Level: A league that hat existed in various forms since 1901, it features a mix of college talent acquired in the subsequent draft and high school and Latin American prospects that worked their way up from rookie ball. The Eugene Emeralds were no exception in this mix. Pitchers are generally ahead of hitters in this circuit since the batters must transition from aluminum bats to wood.

Savage Sub-Rosa

Pitcher of the Year:
Nick Greenwood
4-1, 1.71 ERA
Left-handed starter

Greenwood claimed the Northwest League ERA championship, allowing more than two earned runs just once during the season in nine starts. When moved to the bullpen, he allowed just three earned in 14.2 innings. A ground ball pitcher thanks to a two-seamer that has terrific downward movement, Greenwood mixed his pitches well and kept hitters guessing. Even the hits he did surrender came on tough pitches, as batters rarely squared up one of his offerings.

Runner-up:
Chris Fetter
2-0, 1.33 ERA
Right-handed starter

The Michigan alumnus held the opposition to a .164 average on the year and touted a 0.79 WHIP across 40.2 innings. The tall right-hander gave up just three hits in 28 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Fetter is able to spot his fastball at will, hitting corners with tremendous accuracy. His promotion to Fort Wayne for the playoffs and a primarily role was due to his ability to throw strikes with the heater. He can be fastball heavy in his pitch selection and will need to mix in his slider and changeup more.

Conniff Confidential

Pitcher of the Year:

Nick Greenwood
4-1, 1.71 ERA
Left-handed starter

Greenwood had an excellent year with a 50-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio while giving up only 52 hits in 63.1 innings. Greenwood, a polished college lefty without big stuff, is the quintessential pitcher that succeeds at this level; moves the ball well in and out with a change of speeds. He doesn't have great size at 6-foot-1, 175-pounds, leaving less room for projection on his fastball, meaning his secondary stuff will be pivotal in keeping hitters honest as he moves up the chain.

Runner-up:
Chris Fetter
2-0, 1.33 ERA
Right-handed starter

In his senior year at Michigan, Fetter's fastball improved and he again caught the attention of major league scouts, although at 6-foot-8, he is someone that is hard to miss. The organization put him in the bullpen during parts of the season because of concern of his overall innings, but his future is as a starter. The big statistic that stood out was only allowing six earned runs in 40.2 innings. Additionally, he struck out 54 against only eight walks and was 6-for-7 in saves this year in Eugene.

Others of Note: Jorge Reyes debuted here after a late sign, working in three games. He has a lot of promise that went unfulfilled in his final seasons at Oregon State and the Padres believe in his fastball and slider. Chris Wilkes returned to form in Eugene, trusting his stuff and challenging hitters by working ahead and using his changeup. An injury cut his year short. Jeff Ibarra, a lanky left-hander has a whip of an arm that has projection. With everyone seeking left-handed relievers, Ibarra's terrific slider could serve for quick promotions.

Manager's Comments: "He's good now, but once he masters that curveball, he is going to be even better. He has a work ethic that is second to none." - Greg Riddoch on Nick Greenwood.

Top Prospect: Jerry Sullivan

A power pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and power slider, Sullivan struggled mentally when he first arrived in Eugene and had to work out of the pen. Once he returned to the rotation, Sullivan was able to drop into a routine and see success. He has a tendency to drift over his front foot, which elevates his pitches but is working to stay back to get a good downward plan and consistent command. His two-seam fastball has improved quite a bit since going to Eugene, and his slider and changeup flash potential. He is a competitor that will be emotional but channels that well.

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