MadFriars Pitchers of the Month: April

April is a month for optimism. The San Diego Padres prospect pipeline looked to a new year to show their wares. Many came through with big months and look to do even more in May and beyond. As good as the big league pitching has been, it should push the minor leaguers to perform at their best.

Portland Beavers
Radhames Liz
2-0, 2.57 ERA

Liz comes over to San Diego after bouncing around the Orioles system for five years, which included three stints on the big club. The 26-year-old put up some big numbers in Portland, striking out 22 in 14 innings against only six walks. Batters in the hitter- friendly PCL could only muster a .196 average against him, as he allowed only four earned runs in three starts.

Prospect Watch: Left-hander Wade LeBlanc wasn't in Portland long, but did strikeout 15 in 10 innings against only one walk, but two bad innings hurt his overall numbers. One of the Padres' many giant relief pitchers, right-hander Ryan Webb at 6-foot-6, had a nice month and didn't allow a run in 10 innings, with a 10/2 K/BB ratio, as batters hit .176 against him. Righty Mark Worrell, who was acquired along with Luke Gregerson for Khalil Greene, is recovering well from his season-ending injury in 2009 with a 8/1 K/BB ratio and only allowing six hits in 9.1 innings. Right-hander Greg Burke also was perfect in nine IP, striking out eight against no walks. Starter Will Inman was 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA, only giving up six earned runs in four starts but still struggled with his command with a 16/13 K/BB ratio.

Disappointments: Left-hander Nathan Culp struggled in two starts with the Beavers with a 6.55 ERA giving up eight earned runs in two starts.

San Antonio Missions
Simon Castro
2-0, 1.11 ERA

Castro is the organization's top prospect and this month he only gave up three earned runs in four starts with a 17/6 K/BB ratio in 24.1 IP. Batters hit only .183 against the right-hander with his best outing, despite some sloppy fielding, his last, where he went seven strong innings and 62 of his 99 pitches were for strikes.

Prospect Watch: Right-hander Jeremy Hefner was nearly as good as Castro with a 2-0 record and a 1.35 ERA. In 20 innings he only gave up 14 hits with a 18/7 K/BB ratio. Starter Corey Kluber was 0-2, but the big right-hander was better than his won-loss record indicates with a 23/9 K/BB ratio only giving up 17 hits in 22 innings, as Texas League batters only hit .224 against him. The real strength of the Missions staff and really of both upper level pitching squads, is there strong bullpens. Closer Craig Italiano, acquired in the Scott Hairston trade was 5-for-5 in save opportunities and didn't allow a run in 10 games.

Disappointments: Both starter Wynn Pelzer and relief pitcher Aaron Poreda made the pre-season MadFriars Top 10 and both struggled in their first month in San Antonio. Pelzer had a 7.88 ERA and batters teed off against him at a .329 clip. Poreda had a 1.64 ERA but failed to improve upon his biggest weakness, walking more batters (10) than he struck out (5) in 11 innings.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Jorge Reyes
2-1, 3.54 ERA

Reyes was a late round draft pick in 2009 out of Oregon State and was considered to have more talent than where he ended up being selected because of some off the field issues. The right-hander struck out 19 in 20.1 innings against only five walks. He caught a little too much of the plate at times, but the right-hander has a good fastball that sits in the low-90s.

Prospect Watch: Closer Brad Brach looks like he never left the Midwest League as the 6-foot-4 New Jersey native was 8-for-8 in save opportunities, allowing only one earned run in 11.2 innings with a 10/2 K/BB ratio. Starter Anthony Bass continues to pitch well with a 3.41 ERA, striking out 18 against five walks and averaging nearly six innings a start.

Disappointments: Relief pitcher Nick Schumacher had a rough month with a 10.29 ERA as Cal League batters hit .455 against him.

Fort Wayne TinCaps
Juan Oramas
0-1, 1.20 ERA

The stocky Mexican native, 5-foot-10, 215-pounds, had a big month for the TinCaps in middle relief, striking out 25 in 15 innings against only three walks and nine hits. Midwest League hitters could only manage a paltry .176 average against him, as he went three innings in each of his five appearances.

Prospect Watch: Left-hander Nick Greenwood pitched well in five starts with a 2-0 record and 3.18 ERA. Greenwood had a 19/5 BB/K ratio but caught a little too much of the plate in allowing 35 hits in 28.1 innings. Right-hander Jerry Sullivan, one the teams' top draft picks last year, also had a good month with 21 K's in 19.2 innings against only seven walks and 15 hits. Right-hander Michael Watt, who was acquired for Greg Maddux from the Dodgers, put together a solid month with 20 strikeouts in 20 innings against only six walks and a 2.61 ERA. In the pen, right-hander Miles Mikolas had a 1.62 ERA and a 15/2 K/BB ratio in 16.2 innings.

Disappointments: Relief pitcher Matt Irsfield had a rough month with an 0-2 record and a 19.29 ERA giving up three or more runs in 5 outings that never went past an inning. He was sent down to extended.

Pitcher of the Month: Juan Oramas

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