PBN Minor League Pitcher of the Month - April

The Phillies system is pretty full of good, promising pitching talent. The first month of the season provided some good candidates for Pitcher of the Month, but we had to narrow it down to one. So, here are the candidates for April Pitcher of the Month...

Lehigh Valley (9-11)

After an impressive start to his season, Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 4.57) had a pair of rough starts and saw his ERA jump from 2.37 after three starts to its current level of more than two runs higher, taking him out of the running for the April award. Justin Lehr (3-1, 5.06) would have definitely been in the running if not for a beating that Scranton Wilkes-Barre put on him late in the month when they scored seven runs on him in just four innings, pushing his ERA up from 2.60 after he had won his first three decisions.

Meanwhile, Kyle Kendrick (2-1, 2.77) pitched his best game of the season in his fifth and final start of the month, throwing six shutout innings against Toledo. Former Phillies batter mate, Carlos Ruiz, who was in Lehigh Valley on an injury rehab was reunited with Kendrick and said that he thought Kendrick, who won 21 games over two seasons with the Phillies, was throwing as well as he ever had. Andrew Carpenter (1-0, 3.86), salvaged his monthly numbers with a strong outing against Pawtucket, but has otherwise struggled for Lehigh Valley.

The bullpen was off to a horrible start early in the month, but rebounded with some amazing performances. Tyler Walker (1-0, 0.00) joined the 'Pigs from extended spring training and threw ten shutout innings, allowing just one hit and no walks in his five appearances. Cedric Bowers was pretty consistent in his eight appearances out of the bullpen. Veteran relievers Mike Koplove (0-1, 0.77) and Gary Majewski (0-1, 0.75) have provided a lot of leadership and consistency as well, while Jake Woods (1-0, 2.31) has pitched well in relief.

Reading Phillies (12-6)

Reading showed strong pitching from a number of sources in the first month of the season, flashing a 3.53 team ERA.

Starter Tyson Brummett (1-2, 3.13) pitched in tough luck, but allowed just three walks in 23 1/3 innings of work for the R-Phils and led the team in ERA. Left-hander Joe Savery (1-1, 3.68) showed that there was no reason to worry about his off-and-on season in 2008 as he responded well in his first month at the Double-A level.

But the best news among the starters came from two guys who skipped over Clearwater to start the season at Reading. Mike Stutes (3-0, 3.32) and Vance Worley (2-0, 2.22) both showed that they were undaunted by the double-jump and will now just need to show that they can stay ahead of the adjustments that Eastern League hitters are bound to make against them. Both have the talent to stay well ahead of the curve and move quickly in the organization.

Antonio Bastardo (1-0, 0.73) was pitching well in the bullpen, but the Phillies want to get him more work on some of his pitches and decided to move him back into the starting rotation. Odds are that his future still lies as a reliever, but for now, he's going to chalk up as much experience and pitch as many innings as they can give him, at least for a while. Bastardo didn't seem to mind returning to the rotation and started with five no-hit, no-run innings against Bowie in his first start of the season.

Left-hander Matt German (0-0, 0.00) started the year with 11 2/3 shutout innings out of Reading's bullpen. Opponents hit just .146 against German in April. New to the organization is Josh Shortslef (4-1, 1.93), who came over from the Pirates organization, where he had been since 2000. The 27 year old, who has pitched at the Double-A level since 2006, has put up some nice numbers for the R-Phils.

Clearwater Threshers (11-9)

Fans at Reading have already started glancing a look towards Clearwater, watching for the arrival of Kyle Drabek (3-0, 2.22), who has been magnificent in the early going. After missing most of last season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Drabek started the year at Clearwater to pitch in warmer weather. Once the cold, damp weather up north leaves for good, odds are that Drabek will head north to join the Reading rotation. Drabek won his first three decisions of the year, before stumbling slightly in his last two starts, but continues to throw very well and should be in Reading before too long.

Who is Yohan Flande (3-0, 0.38)? The 23 year old made his U.S. debut last summer in the Gulf Coast League after pitching two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. Just as Stutes and Worley were skipped over Clearwater, Flande was skipped over Lakewood to start the year at Clearwater and he hasn't disappointed. The left-hander won his first three decisions of the season and didn't allow an earned run until his fourth start, when he had thrown 21 innings without allowing an earned run. While Drabek will be the first to move up, Flande may not be far behind.

Consistency remains the key for Carlos Monasterios (1-2, 2.55), who started the year with seven shutout innings against Lakeland before the Tigers came back to hit him around a little in his second start. In that game, Monasterios was also jilted by some weak defense that elevated his pitch count. He hasn't been as masterful since that first start, but continues to generally pitch pretty well for the Threshers.

The bullpen success has come from Chance Chapman (1-1, 1.26) and Michael Schwimer (0-0, 0.77). Chapman and Schwimer both had WHIPs under one and combined to allow opponents to hit just .174 (15-for-86) against them in April.

Lakewood BlueClaws (12-8)

Jason Knapp (1-2, 1.85) is the big news in Lakewood. The Phillies second round pick last summer, Knapp has been impressive since his first start of the year when he struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings. He tied a Lakewood franchise record for strikeouts in a game against Lake County when he whiffed 14 hitters in seven innings of work and in April, struck out 37 hitters in 24 1/3 innings to lead all Phillies prospects in strikeouts.

Tyler Cloyd (1-1, 2.63) threw a six inning complete game against Lake County and also delivered seven shutout innings against Hagerstown last month. Cloyd turns 22 later this month and pitched in the Gulf Coast League and at Williamsport for the Phillies last season.

Jon Velasquez (5-0, 2.25) leads the Phillies organization in wins, even though he pitched his first two games out of the bullpen. At 23, Velasquez is a little old for the South Atlantic League.

Ryan Bergh (1-1, 1.74) has three saves for the BlueClaws and allowed earned runs in just one of his seven April appearances. He is currently on a streak of 5 2/3 shutout innings for Lakewood. Reliever Justin DeFratus (0-0, 1.08) hasn't walked a batter through his first 18 1/3 innings and struck out 20 hitters in 16 2/3 innings in April out of the Lakewood bullpen.

And the award goes to...

Yohan Flande. With an honorable mention to Jason Kanpp at Lakewood. Flande is making a big jump and is one of the least known, solid prospects in the organization. If he continues to pitch the way that he has through the first month of the season, more and more people are going to know who Yohan Flande is and are going to be watching his every move.

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