MadFriars’ May Players of the Month
Each month, MadFriars looks at the best performers across the Padres minor league system. In May, Tucson (Triple-A), San Antonio (Double-A) and Fort Wayne (Low-A) all posted winning records, though in most cases the total was greater than the sum of the parts. There were still plenty of bright spots at every stop.
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As a 26th-round pick out of little-known Ball State, infielder Dean Anna doesn’t have much of a draft pedigree. However, the 26-year-old has hit consistently since coming into the Padres organization in 2008. Even by his standards though, May was a strong month. The left-handed hitting infielder posted a .336/.413/.505 line while providing solid defense at both second base and shortstop. While the organization has much more heralded players in front and behind him, Anna is doing all he can to force his way into a big league utility role.
On the mound, the Tucson staff posted a 4.33 ERA, which is pretty solid by Pacific Coast League standards. In particular, Robbie Erlin, Sean O’Sullivan and Brandon Kloess all delivered strong performances in the rotation. Erlin, the youngest and most likely to get significant big league time with the Padres, finished the month with a 3.33 ERA with 27 strikeouts in as many innings. While Kloess, who the club acquired for Blake Tekotte in the offseason, isn’t as well known, the 28-year-old righty was particularly effective after moving out of the bullpen, posting a 2.30 ERA and striking out 20 in 15.2 innings.
May Player of the Month: Dean Anna
With Burch Smith getting the call to the majors, Matt Andriese stepped up to lead the Missions’ rotation. The big righty, a third round pick out of UC Riverside in 2009, carried a 2.01 ERA across five starts. Though his strikeout rate isn’t as gaudy as some others’, his lively sinker induces a ton of groundballs. By limiting walks (only four in the month) and homers, he avoids big innings well.
There are very few players who possess a true 80 skill on the traditional scout grading scale. Rico Noel’s speed deserves such a lofty rating. In May, the diminutive outfielder from Coastal Carolina started reaching base with enough frequency to make that tool a true weapon for the club. Still learning to switch-hit, the 24-year-old posted a .326 batting average and got on at a fantastic .436 clip. Once at first base, he rarely stayed put, swiping 17 bases in 28 games. He also provides plus defense in center field, where he can chase down just about anything hit in the air.
May Player of the Month: Matt Andriese
Last season was something of a lost year for 2011 first-rounder Cory Spangenberg as he struggled to make consistent contact and lost significant playing time to a concussion. However, the 22-year-old infielder is making up for lost time this season. In May, Spangenberg put up an impressive 297/352/534 line, racking up five triples along the way. The left-handed hitter could be looking at a promotion at the All Star break with another month like that under his belt.
After Matt Wisler got a deserving promotion to Double-A, Frank Garces stepped up to help strengthen an otherwise depleted starting rotation. The lefty struck out a team-high 31 in 26.2 innings and put up a 3.71 even with a rough final outing of the month when he didn’t make it out of the first inning. Also of note on the mound, Johnny Barbato seems to be settling into the closer’s role, striking out 20 in only 14 innings.
May Player of the Month: Cory Spangenberg
The TinCaps are most notable for their starting rotation, which includes four first-round draft picks. While Max Fried, the seventh overall pick in last June’s draft, had a solid showing, it was Zach Eflin, who the Padres took 26 slots later, who really shined. The 19-year-old righty produced a 2.25 ERA with 25 strikeouts across 28 innings. The big-bodied Floridian’s best effort of the month came in his final outing, when he worked seven shutout innings.
Catching all those young, talented arms in Fort Wayne may seem a daunting task, but fellow teenager Rodney Daal has done an admirable job as he shares the duties with second-rounder Dane Phillips. The 19-year-old from the Netherlands posted a 304/328/571 line in May. While he continues to work to refine his catching skills, hitting like that as a teenager will certainly earn him plenty of opportunities to prove himself.
May Player of the Month: Zach Eflin
May MadFriars Player of the Month: Matt Andriese
In a system with as much high-end talent on the mound as the Padres have, a pitcher like Andriese can sometimes fly under the radar. However, he has all the skills and the makeup to be an incredibly valuable big league starter. Months like the one he put up in May will go a long way to getting the attention of the front office, even if national prospect watchers don’t know his name.