AAA — Portland Beavers season recap and 2010 preview.
You can sum up the season of the Portland Beavers with their 60-84 record, good for last place and 14 games back in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) Pacific Northern division. Oh and by the way, that was also good for the worst record in the entire PCL. If your major league team isn't very good, it's a good possibility that your AAA squad isn't very good either, otherwise the players would be up with the big team. We all know how good the Padres have been lately, and the players in AAA aren't good enough to play on those teams.
What follows is that there really isn't much to say about this team. At present, there isn't one player on the team that can be considered a "hot" prospect by any means, and only a few players that can potentially make an impact on the Padres in the future.
Essentially, there wasn't one good hitter on the team last season. Utility infielder Russ Adams, who the Padres signed to a minor league contract after the Blue Jays cut him in July, led the team with a .285 average. 25 year old outfielder Mike Baxter was second best with .277. These two players didn't play the entire season however; out of players that got in a full season of ABs, 24 year old outfielder Chad Huffman and infielder Craig Stansberry were the Beavers' most consistent hitters with a .269 average each.
The best player and best hitting prospect on the team is by far Chad Huffman (Pictured left). Huffman led the team in HRs with 20, doubles with 30, and total bases with 220; he was also second on the team with 68 RBIs. However, he was also second on the team with 115 Ks.
As far as pitching goes, there really wasn't any starting pitching talent in AAA, at least until the trade that sent Jake Peavy to Chicago. I'll take about some of those pitchers later, but the one thing that AAA Portland does have is a few hard throwing pitchers who may contribute from the bullpen in the future. Unfortunately for the 2009 Beavers, none of these pitchers were on the team for most of the season. Edwin Moreno, who you may remember from the Padres, was really the only effective relief pitcher. He had 40 Ks in 45.1 IP, but a 4.17 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP.
For 2010, the Beavers will be very similar but with a few better pitching prospects. There will be a handful of potential starters and relievers to look out for. The Beavers most consistent starter whom you might remember, Josh Banks, was recently signed by the Astros as a minor league free agent. This season Cesar Carrillo, Josh Geer, Aaron Poreda, and Cesar Ramos will compete in spring training for a spot on the Padres but all will likely end up in Portland at least to begin the season. Carrillo and Ramos were selected in the Padres draft in 2005. Both pitchers eventually underwent arm surgery but looked very promising last season. Aaron Poreda was acquired from the White Sox in the Jake Peavy trade and was once considered the White Sox top prospect, but has recently had huge control problems. He will likely stay in AAA longer than the rest. Look for Carrillo and Ramos to make some starts for the Padres in 2010 as they are probably the two best starters at AAA.
It looks like Edwin Moreno will continue as the Beavers closer; the other hard throwing pitcher for the Beavers is Eulogio De La Cruz. Like Poreda, he throws hard but has troubles in the control department. Look for the Padres to continue to stockpile hard throwing arms and send them to Portland to find their control.
On the hitting side of the ball, there isn't much more hope than last season. Unless there are any call-ups or acquisitions by Jed Hoyer, the lineup is going to look exactly the same, and that means the same amount of poor hitting. The Padres system has a great deal of excellent hitters, but they haven't made it up to AAA yet. The previous administration's strategy was to keep mostly spare parts at AAA in case of emergency and promote any true prospects straight from AA. We'll have to see how Jed Hoyer will handle the situation.
Chad Huffman, who won the AAA Home Run Derby last season, will likely be the best hitter on the team again. He is almost 25, so the Padres obviously don't think that much of him, but the big team is in need of a right handed outfield bat and he definitely fits that mold. Depending on what Hoyer does the rest of the off-season, he may be a good bet to make the Padres out of spring training if he hits well. The last note about hitting is going to be the "X" factor, Matt Antonelli. Once considered one of the best prospects in the entire country, Matt has lost his groove after injuries and struggling with hitting for two seasons after dominating at the AA level. He still maintained good bat control and OBP, so hopefully if he is healthy he is able to put it together and start mashing again.
Terry Kennedy has been promoted from AA to be this year's manager of the Beavers. You can read all about the Beaver's 2010 schedule and opponents on their web-site here.