Pitcher of the Month: July

Dodging four-seamers up and in while bailing on curveballs, John Conniff sorts through the mitts and batting practice ball hoping to come up with the magic formula for Pitcher of the Month within the San Diego Padres system.

Portland Beavers
Cory Luebke
2-0, 3.81 ERA

In nearly every trade that the Padres were involved with, one of the most frequent names that came up was Luebke, the big lefty out of Ohio State, and each time the team balked at giving up what may be their top pitching prospect. Luebke won two of his four starts and struck out 22 against six walks and 21 hits holding PCL batters to a .216 average. Luebke throws everything down in the zone and his velocity is usually between 90 to 93. In a way, he is kind of like a LeBlanc with more velocity but without the plus change.

Prospect Watch: Cesar Carrillo posted a good K/BB ratio of 26/12 but allowing 44 hits in 39 innings pitched along with five home runs in six starts that led him to have an 0-4 record with a 5.31 ERA. Adam Russell was 3-for-3 in saves with a 2.45 ERA but also was tagged for three losses, giving him an 0-3 record. Reliever Luis Perdomo was 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA only giving up three earned runs in 15 innings pitched.

Disappointments: Aaron Poreda was a top prospect on many lists simply because a 6'6" lefty that throws in the mid-90s is not an everyday occurrence. Unfortunately, he has struggled so much with his control, the team has moved him to the bullpen, and he still has had trouble finding the plate, walking 20 batters in 10 innings against only seven strikeouts. Batters only hit .194 against him but his inability to command the strike zone led him to give up 13 earned runs, which is not going to cut it coming out of the bullpen.

San Antonio Missions
Corey Kluber
3-1, 3.27 ERA

Quietly behind all of the attention focused on Simon Castro and Luebke, Kluber was having a very good year leading the Texas League in strikeouts, and in July, he put together his best month before being sent to Cleveland as part of the Ryan Ludwick trade. Kluber struck out 40 in 38.1 innings against only 11 walks and 36 hits. He allowed only 14 earned runs in six starts with his only downfall is that he can sometimes struggle with his control giving up a team high four home runs.

Prospect Watch: Jeremy Hefner didn't put up great K/BB numbers at 16/11 but allowed fewer hits than innings pitched, 38/37, and posted the same ERA as Kluber at 3.32; only surrendering 14 earned runs in 38 innings. With relievers Evan Scribner and Craig Italiano struggling, Brandon Gomes picked up the slack with a 1.06 ERA in 17 innings. Gomes struck out 21 against only four walks, as Texas League batters could only hit .226 against him.

Disappointments: Wynn Pelzer lost his spot in the rotation, struggled in the bullpen and was traded to Baltimore for Miguel Tejada. He walked 19 batters in 23.2 innings against only 18 strikeouts, as he had difficulty repeating his delivery.

Lake Elsinore Storm
Rob Musgrave
1-1, 0.86 ERA

Middle reliever Musgrave put up his best numbers of the year, as he struck out 28 in only 21 innings against only six walks and 15 hits. He gave up only two earned runs all month as Cal League batters only hit .205 against him.

Prospect Watch: Erik Davis and Anthony Bass continue to pitch well, although the organization is keeping a pretty tight rein on their innings. Bass was 0-3 this month but his peripheral numbers indicate he was better than his won-loss record indicates with a 19/7 K/BB ratio and Cal League batters only hit .244 against him. Davis was better with 2-0 record in five starts but a little more hittable giving up 29 hits in 25 innings pitched. Relief pitcher Aaron Breit continued to show his power arm with 20 strikeouts in 17.2 IP against eight walks before being promoted to San Antonio. Nick Vincent also put up some good numbers, coming out of the pen to strike out 26 in 23.1 innings against eight walks for a 1-0 record and 1.54 ERA.

Disappointments: Reliever Zach Herr had a tough month with a 4.95 ERA for an otherwise stellar bullpen.

Fort Wayne TinCaps
Miles Mikolas
1-2, 3.75 ERA

Mikolas led the relief corps in innings pitched and appearances with 14 and 19.2 innings pitched. He struck out 20 against only three walks giving up six earned runs.

Prospect Watch: Jose De Paula keeps on putting up numbers with a 3-1 record, striking out 23 against nine walks and allowing a little over two earned runs in six starts as he led Fort Wayne in innings pitched at 29.2. Giant Matt Lollis was called up to Fort Wayne and pitched well in two starts with a 3.27 ERA striking out 10 against two walks. And the 6'9" right-hander is not yet 20 years old.

Disappointments: Jerry Sullivan, who has had a good year with the TinCaps, struggled this month in five starts with a 7.71 ERA.

Eugene Emeralds
Keyvius Sampson
1-1, 3.47 ERA

Of the top three prospects picked in last year's draft, Sampson has by far performed the best. This month he struck out 30 against only 11 walks in 23.1 innings. He is allowing a little under two runs a start and Northwest League batters hit only .198 against him. His command and secondary pitches have improved tremendously from last year and he is one to watch.

Prospect Watch: Adys Portillo is getting the strikeouts with 21 in 21 innings but his command is what is responsible for an 0-3 record and 5.57 ERA as he has given up 14 walks. Big Pedro Martiniez (the other Pedro Martiniez) also struggled with his command giving up 18 walks in 15.2 innings pitched and was sent down to the AZL. Allen Marona pitched well coming out of the bullpen with an 0.84 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 10.2 innings against only two walks.

Disappointments: Dexter Carter, one of the four giant pitchers acquired in the Jake Peavy deal with the White Sox, continues to struggle since his demotion from Fort Wayne with a 6.46 ERA, as batters hit .328 against him.

Arizona Rookie League Padres
Adam Schrader
3-0, 3.09 ERA

Schrader of Southwest Minnesota State struck out 27 batters in 32 innings pitched against only four walks in six starts. He allowed less than two runs a start and held batters to a .262 average, which is very good for the very hitter friendly conditions in the desert.

Prospect Watch: Throwing out one bad spot start in Lake Elsinore, Mark Hardy pitched well for the AZL Padres with a 26/3 K/BB ratio in five starts over 26.1 innings pitched. Jackson Quezada continues to make progress with his rehab with a 1.80 ERA in five innings pitched, striking out three against no walks.

Disappointments: Juan Herrera struggled with his command with a 22/15 K/BB ratio for a 1-4 record and 5.79 ERA.

Dominican Summer League Padres
Bryan Rodriguez
1-0, 2.78 ERA

A pitcher that commands the strike zone well (23K, six walks) and can get the ground ball at this level is invaluable. He averaged over five innings per outing and was a workhorse for the club, getting quick outs when needed. Rodriguez is someone that understands how to pitch and just turned 19 this month.

Prospect Watch: Jean Corpas is a player to watch. He has good stuff and understands the game. Corpas posted a 3.10 ERA for the month. Tayron Guerrero is turning things around now that his workload has increased but had some tough moments with a 5.03 ERA.

Disappointments: Rudi Andujar walked 23 batters in 12 innings while also adding a pair of hit batsmen and eight wild pitches.

MadFriars Pitcher of the Month: Rob Musgrave

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