The Padres minor league players of the month picks are in from MadFriars.com
By DAVID JAY FS San Diego
Every month, MadFriars looks at the best performers across the Padres’ minor league affiliates. As the minor league season wraps up, we take one final look at all six affiliates to highlight the players who made the biggest contributions in August.
Reymond Fuentes’ August was one of the best months any Padre farmhand posted all year. The 22-year-old outfielder had a torrid two weeks in San Antonio, hitting .417/.545/.625 to earn a promotion to Triple-A. He promptly launched a 13-game hitting streak for Tucson, reaching base at least twice in all but one of his 14 games before getting the call to The Show. In his brief stay in the Pacific Coast League, Fuentes put up a .418/.515/.491 line, and added six stolen bases for good measure.
With Fuentes streaking through, it was minor league veteran Brandon Allen who provided stability in the middle of the Tucson lineup. The 27-year-old slugger paced the team with six homers in August, posting a .309/.365/.606. The strong finish won’t, however, get the lefty a look in the big leagues this September, making this the first year since 2008 that Allen won’t get any major league service time.
After shuttling back and forth to San Diego in July, Burch Smith spent all of August in Triple-A, and found his rhythm again. The hard-throwing righty posted a 3.68 ERA, capping off the month with a seven-inning, three-hit masterpiece with a season-high 10 strikeouts. Fellow righty Anthony Bass was even better throughout the month, finally regaining the form that helped him succeed in the majors in 2011. The righty from Michigan had a 2.52 ERA across four starts, fanning 19 against only four walks in 25 innings. The showing was enough to get him a third round-trip to and from the big league club at the end of August. He’ll rejoin the team one last time at the completion of the PCL season.
August Player of the month: Reymond Fuentes
With the exception of Fuentes for the first half of the month, the Missions’ offense was atrocious in August. As a team, they hit .235/.301/.327. Amidst all the struggles, however, the Padres saw encouraging signs from 2011 first-rounder Cory Spangenberg. The left-handed hitting second baseman has improved each month he’s been in Double-A, a pattern he’s repeated at each level. The 22-year-old hit .330 in 27 August games, adding enough patience and gap power to put up an .810 OPS. His performance was enough to claim a spot in the Arizona Fall League.
Despite the anemic contributions of San Antonio’s position players, the club finished the month with a winning record. That’s a testament to the strong showing of the pitching staff, which combined for a 2.65 ERA. Juan Oramas and Matt Wisler were particularly outstanding. Wisler, the 20-year-old righty who has rocketed up prospect rankings since signing as a seventh-round pick out of an Ohio high school in 2011, surrendered only one run through his first 25 innings of the month. Even after a hiccup in his final start of August, he posted a 1.86 ERA with a stellar 37 strikeouts against five walks in 29 innings.
Oramas, on his way back from Tommy John Surgery last summer, was even better. The 23-year-old lefty had a microscopic 0.65 ERA allowing 23 men to reach base safely all month. He will likely be ready to compete for a big league roster spot next spring.
August Player of the Month: Juan Oramas
The Storm have limped through the 2013 season and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The club’s situation wasn’t helped when shortstop Jace Peterson went down with a foot injury in the midst of his second major hot spell of the season. The 23-year-old from Louisiana hit .372/.534/.605 in 12 games this month, drawing twice as many walks as strikeouts. In his absence, 2012 second-rounder Jeremy Baltz was the team’s top performer. The St. John’s alum posted a .311/.333/.528 line in August.
On the mound, while several starters hit a wall as the Cal League season wore on, Johnny Barbato transitioned back to the rotation and put up an impressive month. The 21-year-old Floridian made five starts, dominating in two and performing well enough in the others. The “consolation prize” signee when Karsten Whitson didn’t sign out of the 2010 draft, Barbato posted a 2.77 ERA thanks in large part to surrendering only 22 hits in 26 innings.
August Player of the Month: Johnny Barbato
Alberth Martinez missed most of July with a leg injury, but returned impressively for the season’s final month. The 22-year-old Venezuelan hit .271/.364/.479 with a team-leading four homers and a share of the club lead for extra-base hits. The athletic outfielder maintained his healthy strikeout-to-walk ratio, whiffing 17 times in 112 plate appearances while drawing 12 walks. Martinez was the only TinCap hitter to finish the year with a double-digit home run total. Having taken two years to get out of the Midwest League, Martinez will be in line to be pushed next year if he produces early in Lake Elsinore.
Zach Eflin may not have the best stuff among the four first-rounders who manned the TinCaps rotation all year, but he’s been the most effective by a wide margin. The big righty allowed only four runs across 23.1 innings in August, creating further separation between himself and his fellow starters. Eflin claimed the Midwest League ERA title with a 2.73 mark over 118.2 innings. Though his strikeout rate lagged both Max Fried and Walker Weickel in August, he also avoided causing as much trouble for himself as the others. The 19-year-old walked only five hitters for the month.
August Player of the Month: Zach Eflin
August put a cap on a brutal campaign for the Ems. For the month, the team combined to hit only .212/.285/.290, while posting a league-worst 4.06 ERA. Malquiel Brito, who turned 20 during the month, hit four of the club’s six home runs and paced the team with nine extra-base hits. The left-handed hitting outfielder easily led the club with a .267 average and .493 slugging percentage. However with only two walks in 79 plate appearances, his .295 on-base percentage lagged well behind Donavan Tate, who reached base at a healthy .363 clip in his return to the playing field.
On the mound, righty Coby Cowgill threw 32.2 innings, more than double the work of any other member of the rotation. Originally drafted by the Rangers last year, Cowgill was released out of full-season ball in May after walking too many, but in returning to the Northwest league, he found a rhythm. For August, Cowgill struck out a team-high 38, walking only 11 in the process. Though he didn’t work nearly as many innings, Erik Schoenrock was completely dominant in his five starts. The lefty worked exactly three innings in each outing, only giving up two runs total for the month. The 22-year-old from Memphis struck out 12 to go along with his 1.20 ERA.
August Player of the Month: Erik Schoenrock
After a slow start to his professional career, Jake Bauers boosted his OPS by 100 points in August. The youngest player in the 2013 draft, Bauers hit .355/.395/.421 in 21 games for the month. Bauers, who will turn 18 in October, struck out 13 times, but drew six walks as well. Though several players had better performances in more limited action, it was once again Franmil Reyes who was a daily force in the middle of the AZL club’s lineup. The huge outfielder hit .313/.391/.450 with a team-high 16 RBIs.
Under most circumstances, Pete Kelich would not have remained in the desert for the entire month. But the righty was so dominant, and Eugene was so bad, that the organization chose to let him finish out his great run in the AZL. The lowest-drafted player to sign with the Padres this year, the 38th-rounder from Bryant University gave up one earned run in 27 August innings, posting an absurd 35 strikeouts and one walk in the process. As a 22-year-old already, Kelich will definitely be in line to start in Ft. Wayne next spring.
August Player of the Month: Pete Kelich
August MadFriars Player of the Month: Reymond Fuentes
In less than a year, Fuentes has gone from a near-forgotten player destined to repeat in Double-A to a big leaguer. He’s a perfect example of giving a player with raw tools time to grow into them and the coaching to turn them into success. As a plus defender and top-of-the-lineup producer, Fuentes fits the profile of what the Padres are looking for from their outfield.