Players of the Month: April

April was a month that showed the perseverance of several young hitters within the San Diego Padres system. At the same time, some of the top prospects struggled in adjusting to new leagues.

Portland Beavers
Mike Baxter

Every season begins and no one is really sure where Mike Baxter is going to play, and every year his bat forces his way into the lineup at each level. The versatile Baxter can play both corners and first, some center and catch in a pinch and has excellent strike zone judgment, as he proved again this month with a 12/8 BB/K ratio. The cerebral Vanderbilt grad with his left-handed bat could be a candidate to make the big club next year as a reserve because he can fill so many different spots.

Prospect Watch: First baseman Craig Cooper was one of the pre-season sleepers, and the trade of Chad Huffman opened up an opportunity for him to play everyday. Cooper was second on the team in extra-base hits with eight and put together a very solid .338/.357/.515 line, as he seemed to revel in getting away from San Antonio. Minor league veteran outfielder Chris Denorfia, 29, turned some heads in spring training and kept it going leading the team in extra-base hits with nine and hit .333/.383/573, stealing six bases in seven attempts. Sean Kazmar has the defense but has struggled with his hitting in the past. This month, he hit .304 with a .385 on-base percentage.

Disappointments: Even though he was called up to the big club at the end of the month, shortstop Lance Zawadzki, and No. 7 prospect, struggled in his first month at Triple-A, hitting .162/240/.176 with 22 strikeouts in 75 plate appearances. Of course, this distinction means little when you get to the big leagues and notch a hit in your first at-bat.

San Antonio Missions
Luis Martinez

Martinez easily had his best month in the Padres system with seven extra-base hits this month, tying him for second on the Missions along with an excellent 7/10 K/BB ratio. With runners on, he hit .458 in 29 plate appearances.

Prospect Watch: Center fielder Cedric Hunter had a big rebound after a disappointing 2009, hitting .333/.348/.457 in April. He had nearly as many extra base hits in one month (7) as it took him for two months last year (9). Although his batting average and power numbers are up, for a leadoff hitter with his ability, he needs to collect more than four walks in 85 plate appearances and do better than four stolen bases in seven attempts. Second baseman Logan Forsythe got off to a hot start and then slumped once the team came back to San Antonio, hitting only .150 as compared to .333 on the road before going down with a broken hand. Additionally, he struggled in the field with four errors in 14 games. On the positive side, even in a down month at the plate, he still had a .367 OBP.

Disappointments: Third baseman James Darnell. The No. 3 ranked prospect for 2010 had his worst month in the system, hitting .203/.302/.338. Darnell may have been a little too selective at the plate hitting .292/.471/.500 while ahead in the count (33 PAs) and .115/.148/.231 (26 PA's) when behind.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Dan Robertson

As with Baxter, Robertson has had to fight for every opportunity and so far in his career he is Floyd Mayweather; he hasn't been beaten. Robertson absolutely crushed left-handed pitching at a .409 clip and hit .423 with runners on base. He leads the Storm in hits and runs, was third on the team in RBI and second in the Cal League with four triples. Robertson can play all three outfield positions and led the Cal League in assists with six in April.

Prospect Watch: Shortstop Drew Cumberland missed eight games with some bruised ribs but still hit .357/.410/.589, finishing second on the team with three home runs. He had a rough start in the field with four errors in the first three games, but settled down afterwards. His double play partner, second baseman Cole Figueroa, does everything well defensively and at the plate, hitting .301/.402/.361 and can play both short and second. Center fielder Blake Tekotte may be the best defensive outfielder in the system and once again put up solid numbers with a .280/.400/.480 line.

Disappointments: Outfielder Yefri Carvajal was given a lot of playing time but didn't produce in April, hitting only .140/.155/.228. A 3-for-34 slump to begin the year is going to kill any average.

Fort Wayne TinCaps
Nate Freiman
First Base

Freiman, the giant first baseman from Duke who was a catcher/pitcher in high school, was thought to have big time power, but quite a few holes in his swing. So far the 6-foot-8 former Blue Devil has yet to show it. Although he is a little old for the league at 23, he absolutely crushed the Midwest League pitching. Freiman was the triple crown leader for the TinCaps, leading the team in batting average, home runs, RBI and was flawless in the field with no errors.

Prospect Watch: With the struggles of many of the Padres' highly touted Kiddie Corps in Fort Wayne, shortstop Jonathan Galvez showed some good plate discipline with a 15/14 BB/K ratio for a .259/.411/.328 line but 11 errors in 18 games is a little scary. Catcher Griffin Benedict was supposed to be the backup but he put up some great numbers in April, hitting .423/.483/.654 in 29 plate appearances. It will be interesting to see how the team splits up playing time with Jason Hagerty, who was a high draft pick in 2009. Wande Oliabisi didn't see much playing time at Stanford, but many in the organization believe if he can even get his baseball skills close to his athletic ability they will have quite a player. He's off to a good start with a .286/.362/.405 mark.

Disappointments: Young players like outfielders Everett Williams and Rymer Liriano are expected to struggle, and they did hitting .202 and .198 but outfielder Bo Davis, a more experienced college player, needs to put up some better numbers than .196/.268/.314.

Player of the Month: Dan Robertson

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