It’s Spring Training! The long, cold Winter is over, and we can finally get back to some baseball now that football is finished until the Fall!
On Wednesday, Robert posted a list of the Non-Roster players being invited by the Padres to Spring Training in Peoria over the next month and a half. While there are some familiar players coming as Non-Roster invites such as Jedd Gyorko and Tim Stauffer, I was particularly intrigued by some of the talented Minor League Pitchers on the aforementioned list: Relievers Kevin Quackenbush and Matt Stites, and Starters Robbie Erlin, and Donn Roach.
Quackenbush & Stites
Quackenbush and Stites, both Right-Handers, really burst on the scene as potential contributors in the Padres’ Bullpen after both enjoyed terrific stints in the Arizona Fall League. During A.F.L. play, Quackenbush and Stites emerged as two of the League’s most effective Relief Pitchers, and Quackenbush was named to the League’s “Top Prospects” team at the conclusion of the season as he posted 6 Saves over 11 Appearances to go along with 16 Strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA. No slouch himself, Stites posted a 1-0 record over 12 Appearances, and a 3.21 ERA with 15 Strikeouts, as both teammates were a formidable pair out of the Peoria Javelina’s Bullpen.
Because of how effective they were in the A.F.L., as well as the 2012 regular season, the Relievers are likely in line for a promotion in Minor League levels in 2013 too. Stites is coming off of a productive year with Single-A Fort Wayne, as he befuddled Midwest League hitters to the tune of a 2-0 record, and a 0.74 ERA in 48.2 Innings Pitched and 43 Appearances. Most impressive of all however was the 60 to 3 Strikeout to Walk ratio Stites tallied last year! Quackenbush, who pitched with High-A Lake Elsinore, was no slouch himself as he went 3-2, posted a 0.94 ERA over 57.2 Innings Pitches and 52 Appearances, and Struck Out 70 batters.
Erlin & Roach
Acquired in exchange for then-Setup Man Mike Adams back in 2011, Erlin figures to be a fixture in the Padres’ Starting Rotation in the near future. And like Quackenbush and Stites, he enjoyed quite the stint in the Arizona Fall League as well. Overall, Erlin pitched 23.2 Innings, and went 2-1 over 7 Starts with the Peoria Javelinas (he was a teammate of both Stites and Quackenbush) this Fall after he sustained a rough 2012 regular season due to an injury.
Erlin missed a large chunk of the 2012 campaign due to elbow tendinitis, but was nevertheless effective in his 11 Starts as he posted a 3-1 record, and logged a 2.92 ERA to go along with 72 Strikeouts over 52.1 Innings Pitched. The Left-Hander’s career stats in the Double-A Texas League, with Frisco and San Antonio, illustrate that he is more than ready to begin the regular season with Tucson in Triple-A. If this happens, I for one will be coming out to Kino Stadium like I did last year as I saw Gyorko and Yasmani Grandal tear up Pacific Coast League Pitching. Only this time I will be there to watch some top notch Pitching.
Speaking of Pitchers, do you Friars fans remember when the Padres traded Ernesto Frieri to Los Angeles of Anaheim in May of last year? Well besides “Swiss Army Knife” Alexi Amarista, the Friars received Minor League Pitcher Donn Roach in exchange for Frieri. Although Roach did not contribute at the Big League level like Amarista did in 2012, he really did a fantastic job in The California League.
How good was the former Angels prospect? Well, Roach, with Inland Empire and Lake Elsinore, was as close to dominant as a Starter could be in High-A ball last year. Over 14 Games (13 Starts) and 88.1 Innings Pitched, the Sinker-baller registered a 10-1 overall record, a 1.94 ERA, and an impressive 73 to 14 Strikeout to Walk ratio. It would not shock me in the least to see Roach making Starts with Triple-A Tucson by the end of the year. In fact, Roach could very well be on the fast track to Triple-A if he proves he can hang with Texas League hitters after his promising debut last year with the Missions (4 Appearances, 3 Starts, 1-1 record, 1.59 ERA) before he was shut down for the year due to his workload.
As promising as these Pitchers are, I nevertheless have to remind myself that only Erlin is likely to make any sort of contributions with the Padres this season. Stites and Quackenbush have yet to pitch an Inning of Double-A ball, and Roach has a limited amount of experience at the Double-A level also. Nevertheless, it is at least intriguing and hopeful to see that the Friars do have some potential in their Minor League system after so many years with their “cupboards” essentially “bare” of talent. This added time against increased competition will hopefully serve these hurlers well, because they will be counted on to help the Friars as the rebuilding process continues for the franchise.
So keep a close eye out for these four prospects over the next month and a half, Friars fans. Each one has the potential to be an integral pieces of the Padres’ Pitching Staff puzzle soon, and I for one am interested in seeing how they perform this Spring as Non-Roster invitees.