Decker Endures Tough Season





Best Player: High Class A left fielder Jaff Decker collected three hits on June 17, boosting his average by 22 points and setting in motion a second-half run that nearly obscured a brutal start.

From that date to the end of his season on Aug. 18, the 20-year-old Decker batted .309/.441/.617 with 15 homers, 47 RBIs and a 41-to-43 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 53 games. His 1.058 OPS ranked second in the California League in that span.

On the flip side of the coin, Decker got a late start to the season with a hamstring injury and then started slowly when he did take the field, batting just .176 with 37 strikeouts through his first 102 at-bats. He missed the final two weeks of the California League season after he fractured a middle finger as the result of being hit by a pitch. But in a year in which many of the organization's top position players struggled, Decker distinguished himself by finishing strong and hitting 17 home runs.

Best Pitcher: Pitching was the strength of the organization in 2010, and no one stood out more than 25-year-old lefthander Cory Luebke, a supplemental first-round pick from Ohio State in 2007. He won five games apiece for Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Portland while compiling a composite 2.68 ERA and striking out 88 over 114 innings.

The Padres rewarded his effort with a September callup to San Diego, where he was inserted into the thick of the National League West pennant race. While Luebke pitches at 88-92 mph, his fastball plays up because of plus tailing action, and his slider has emerged as a strikeout pitch.

Keep An Eye On: Righthander Matt Lollis, a 15th-round pick out of Riverside (Calif.) CC in 2009, made a splash with short-season Eugene this season. The 20-year-old went 2-2, 2.86 in six starts, striking out 24 and walking four over 35 innings for the Emeralds. The 6-foot-9 Lollis fared even better with low Class A Fort Wayne after a promotion, going 5-2, 1.66 in nine starts. He struck out 45 in 54 innings.

FATHER FIGURES

• To clear room on the 40-man roster for Luebke, the Padres designated righthander Cesar Carrillo for assignment, the club's first-round pick (18th overall) in 2005. He went 5-14, 5.60 in 27 starts this season for Portland.

• Catcher Chris Stewart, 28, batted .248/.337/.395 for Portland this season and led the Pacific Coast League by throwing out 39 percent of basestealers.