Happy New Year. Lets hope 2011 is the year of the Friar, both in the majors and throughout the farm. In 2009 the Storm had one of the most consistent rotations in all of baseball. Pelzer, Hefner, Luebke, Kluber, and Breit each had over 100 IP. 2010 was a different story. The 2010 staff was riddled with uncertainty and short starts. Adam Bass was the ONLY Storm pitcher to log 100 innings (although Davis had 99 with the Storm and well over 100 overall). What might be even worse was that only Jeremy McBryde and Erik Davis averaged over 5 IP per start. This means that there was a LOT of middle relief. The Storm had 5 relievers appear in at least 48 G. The 2011 staff will hopefully bring about more certainty. The rotation may lack the true star power of Fort Wayne and San Antonio, but aims to be solid none the less.
1) Matt Lollis– 7-4, 2.12 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (Eugene and Fort Wayne). The biggest pleasant surprise in the 2010 season might very well have been Matt Lollis. Coming out of extended the 19 year old was overshowded by Portillo and Sampson in Eugene. Quickly, he moved past them to Fort Wayne and was named the Tin Caps pitcher of the year. Lollis is a BIG guy in both height and weight. He uses this to his advantage with a solid low-mid 90s FB. His secondary pitches are average with room to grow. For a pitcher of his size and age there is some concern with keeping his weight under control. The Padres would like to see his K numbers improve in 2011, but the bigger concern might be to just keep him healthy and conditioned during the summer months in the Cal League. There is a lot to like out of this top prospect.
2) Jose De Paula– 8-5, 3.27 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7.28 K/9. De Paula will more than likely end up being the #3 or 4 starter, but in potential alone he should be the #2 starter. He has a solid FB sitting in the low 90’s His best pitch is his curve which is one of the best in the organization. The biggest difference between 2009 and 2010 was the improvement in his change. The better his change up becomes the more dangerous his FB and curve become. If De Paula remains healthy look for him to be a potential breakout candidate.
3) Michael Watt– 6-6, 3.82 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 7.56 K/9 (Ft Wayne) Watt was acquired from the Dodgers in the Greg Maddux deal a few years ago and has been a solid starter for the Tin Caps since. Over the past 2 years Watt has logged 246 innings with the Tin Caps. The South Paw has not lived up to the potential that the Dodgers saw when he was drafted in the 2nd round out of HS. He might only be viewed as organizational depth, but the lefty should eat some much needed innings and give the rotation a consistent starter in the middle of the rotation.
4) Jerry Sullivan– 7-4, 4.03 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.14 WHIP (Ft Wayne) Sullivan was the first college players drafted by the Padres in the 2009 draft. Sullivan might have the most refined stuff of any of the Storm pitching staff. He only allowed 2.25 BB/9 which was one of the best in the org. Sullivan can spot a low 90s FB and works both sides of the plate. At times he would find too much of the plate which resulted in a .264 BAA. He needs to work on getting quick outs which will allow him to work deeper into games. With his control and stuff he has the chance to be the “veteran” (at 23) presence in the rotation.
5) Take your pick. My guess would be Pedro Hernandez (4-3, 4.04 ERA, 100.1 IP, 122 H, 17 BB). Ideally Hernandez would spend another year in Fort Wayne where he can continue to refine his stuff. However with the multitude of candidates for the SP jobs in Fort Wayne is seems Hernandez will be bumped to Lake Elsinore. Hernandez has a plus change and a pretty good FB. Batters hit .295 off of him which means he will be eaten alive in the Cal League if he doesnt make adjustments. Daniel Sarria is another candidate. The Cuban righty attacks the strikezone and loves to throw his offspeed stuff in fastball counts. He has good location with all of his pitches and the 8.00 K/9 in Fort Wayne is a good sign, though he will probably end up starting in middle relief. Josh Spence is the final candidate that I see. Spence is a crafty lefty who had a 15.75 K/9 last year over 3 levels. Spence might not have the overall stuff to maintain a starter, and is also a good candidate for the back of the bullpen. However Spence was a starter, wants to be a starter, and will probably have a chance to start at some point this year.
Closer: Jackson Quezada: Quezada should be back with the Padres in 2011. The Padres decided to add him to the 40 man roster after the 2008 season when he struck out 79 hitters in just 63 IP as the closer for Fort Wayne. Sadly Quezada missed all of the 2009 season and most of the 2010 season coming back from injury. If he is healthy Quezada is one of the most lethal relief prospects in an organization rich with great bullpen arms. If Quezada remains healthy look for him to be the closer for the Storm then get promoted to San Antonio mid season.
8th inning/closer: Mike Mikolas: The best stat for any reliever is that over 60 appearances last year he allowed more than 1 ER just 3 times! Mikolas has a good FB-curve combo and has settled in nicely in the back of the pen.
Others: Stiven Osuna, Rob Poutier, Jeff Ibarra, and Nick Schumacher (though Nick could be in SA)
BTW later in the week I will preview the Storm batting aka less hope the offense can score more runs then they give up through errors. Then sometime mid next week I will begin rolling out FriarForecast’s top prospects including the new acquisitions. Lets just hope everyone has a happy and healthy first week of 2011