Padres Prospect Interview: Eddie Bonine

San Diego Padres prospect Eddie Bonine started the year with the Fort Wayne Wizards. After just a handful of starts, Bonine was promoted to Lake Elsinore where he makes his current home. Bonine was a member of Idaho Falls just a year ago so the shock of the lightning fast promotion to the Storm is stiff fresh in his mind.<br><br> "It was a lot quicker than I anticipated," Bonine admitted.

That is not to say Bonine isn't happy to be in his new position.

"It was good going from a team that we kind of struggled a little bit and coming to a team that is battling for first place which is good," Bonine said. "I am excited."

With a fastball that touches the mid-nineties, he has the repertoire to succeed. An underrated prospect a year ago, he has now caught many eyes.

In fact, Jim Callis of Baseball America mentioned Eddie Bonine as a player to look out for. And after posting an ERA under 2.00 in Fort Wayne it is easy to see why.

His ascension to Lake Elsinore has not been as kind as he had hoped. In relation to his dominant stuff with the Wizards, Bonine has struggled early on in the California League.

"There is obviously two or three guys on each team that are pretty solid," Bonine remarked on the California League. "You have to make sure you get ahead of these guys. If you get behind, they can hurt you. That is what has happened to me a few times so far.

"There is a big difference in talent in the two different leagues. Pitching in the California League is a little different. Its warmer, the wind is blowing out in some of these parks, the grass is thin and it is obviously a different league as far as the Midwest League high grass and cold temperatures and stuff like that."

So the transition to the Cal League hasn't been smooth, but that is the case for many a propect. Each player will inevitably face his own demons along the way. It is the mental aspect of the game that can keep so many from reaching their potential. How they respond often will define the character of the player.

Then there is the initial adrenaline that comes with a promotion. You come to a team where you want so badly to perform and the nerves on the mound get going.

"You try not to make the game too hard." Bonine said sincerely. "That is what the name of the game is no matter what level it is. I have just been trying too hard and pressing a little bit and I need to calm down and relax and trust my stuff.

"No matter what game it is, you are playing professional baseball and there is always that adrenaline and you have to get after it each and every game you are out there."

The Cal League is known to be a hitters' league, much like the Southern League has been known to send hitters into panic fits. But there is sunlight at the end of each rainbow. Tim Stauffer and Brian Whitaker proved it could be done already this year and earned promotions to Mobile for their efforts. Bonine hopes he is not far behind.

The mental approach to the game is the same, but it may have haunted Bonine early on. He sees it in a different light now.

"I am trying to take everyday just as if it was in Fort Wayne," said Bonine. "I played with these guys in spring training."

And if there is one key, says Bonine, "Hitting your spots and working ahead."

That works in any League.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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