8/14/2013 3:11 P.M. ET
Padres allow some flexibility developing young arms
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
DENVER -- It is the time of year when Minor League pitching prospects are starting to reach their ceiling as far as innings go.
For the Padres, this does not necessarily mean a hard cap for innings for pitchers like Matt Wisler, rated the organization's No. 5 prospect by MLB.com, as well as Burch Smith (No. 9) and the three highly regarded prospects with Single-A Fort Wayne -- Max Fried (No. 1), Zach Eflin (No. 12) and Walker Weickel (No. 18).
That was not always the case, though.
When former general manager Jed Hoyer and former assistant GM Jason McLeod were in charge, the Padres had a firm number of innings a pitcher was allowed to throw. Hoyer and McLeod moved on to the Cubs after the 2011 season.
"We used to have a hard and fast innings limit, period, without taking into account how they do it," said Randy Smith, the team's vice president of player development and international scouting. "Some guys do it a lot easier. Now, it's more of a hybrid of pitch-count and innings.
"Before, it was a 20 to 30-inning increase from one year to the next. It was a hard and fast number. There was a start a few years ago where [Casey] Kelly was through five innings and had 48 pitches, and we took him out. Some people were surprised. But those were the marching orders."
This is not something the Padres look at on the fly.
Smith and others in the organization, such as Padres GM Josh Byrnes, assistant GM A.J. Hinch, Minor League field coordinator Randy Johnson and Minor League pitching coordinator Mike Cather discussed this prior to the season, before implementing their plan.
The workload of each pitcher in the system is then monitored.
"We want to give guys a chance to pitch deeper into games but still protect their arms," Smith said.
In Class A Fort Wayne, the Padres implemented a six-man staff. That way, Fried, Weickel and Eflin -- who are all in their first full professional season -- will all be available to pitch during the playoffs. Of that group, Eflin has the most innings (107 2/3).
"With that extra day in there, these guys are sometimes pitching once a week," Smith said.
Then there's Wisler, who began the season with Class A Lake Elsinore and is now in San Antonio. In the case of Wisler, who was scheduled to start Wednesday, he got a little tired toward the end of the 2012 season. That was something the Padres are watching.
"In Double-A, because we've got some young pitchers there, we'll give you 11 innings to work over two starts," Smith said. "That gives the manager some discretion. Now that we're getting to the end, with some playoff starts coming, it's a balancing act.
"We're gauging how guys feel and buying them extra rest if needed."
New, improved slider paying off for Street
DENVER -- Closer Huston Street got the last four outs of Tuesday's 7-5 victory over the Rockies, earning his 23rd save in 24 appearances and running his scoreless-innings streak to 12 1/3 innings.
Street has converted eight consecutive save opportunities and has not allowed a run since June 23, when he gave up two against the Dodgers.
He has come a long way since a vexing start saw him allow 10 home runs in his first 27 games. He had a 4.78 ERA at that point and was 0-4. It was at that point he focused more on improving his slider. The results -- no runs in 12 games -- speak for themselves.
"I've noticed his hand speed and arm speed has increased," said Padres manager Bud Black adding, "so with that, the [increased] hand speed has allowed him to create a tighter rotation. The velocity is up a tick. The stuff is better. And when your stuff is better, your confidence goes up.
"He's throwing more first-pitch strikes. He's in better counts; he's putting guys away. When you're going well, your confidence soars, you attack. When it's the other way around, pitchers have a tendency to be a little defensive."
With the Padres leading, 7-5, Black called on Street to get the final out of the eighth inning with a runner on third base. Street got Dexter Fowler to ground out, and then worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, throwing some good sliders and changeups, to retire the Rockies.
Maybin getting legs back under him at Tucson
DENVER -- Outfielder Cameron Maybin, currently on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Tucson, has not played since Aug. 6 because of soreness in his right knee.
Maybin, who has been on the disabled list since June 12 with a tear in his posterior cruciate ligament, is able to run about "75-80 percent" in the outfield, said Padres manager Bud Black, and has also been hitting in the cage with Tucson.
It is not known when Maybin will return to the Padres' lineup.
Maybin has hit .268 in 14 games with Tucson with four home runs and five RBIs.
The Padres did not have a predetermined number of games or at-bats for Maybin in Tucson before they planned to reinstate him from the disabled list.
The 2013 season to this point has been a loss for Maybin, who has played in only 14 big league games. He missed 45 games with an impingement of his right wrist and returned briefly before injuring the knee.