Position Player of the Year

"It's an honor, I guess I'm really at a loss for words. It's hard to explain, there's a lot of great players in this organization, Josh Barfield, Ben Johnson, guys like that, but its awesome to be named ( Minor League Position Player of the Year."

That is the reaction of Paul McAnulty, the 2004 winner of the award.

He earned the award after hitting .297 at Lake Elsinore with 23 homers and 87 RBI there. It was a great season for McAnulty, who's known in the Padres organization as a workaholic.

"I guess it shows that hard work really does pay off," he added.

Hard work is the key to McAnulty's game. A first/third baseman earlier in his career, McAnulty was asked to move to the outfield, and recognized to play well out there changes had to be made. McAnulty lost weight during the offseason and added speed to his game, while developing into a very solid defensive outfielder.

"I've been playing in the Instructional League, and working on my outfield defense. I just decided before this season that I was going to commit to nothing except baseball. I came into this season with a game plan, and I've stuck with it. I've got a pretty regular routine it's worked well for me. I just try to make sure I'm always working on something."

One of the biggest attributes McAnulty has shown is his great eye. At a level when a power hitter's strikeouts often outnumber walks five, six, or even ten to one, McAnulty earned 88 free passes this past season against 106 strikeouts. His 88 walks tied for the California League lead.

Seeing pitches has always been part of his game, but McAnulty doesn't rest on his laurels.

"I've always worked on having a good eye," McAnulty said. "The higher up you go in an organization the better the pitchers get, and if you're swinging at pitches out of the strike zone your job is just that much tougher.

"I still work on seeing pitches well, recognizing if they are strikes or not, because like everything else if you don't work on it, that skill will go away."

Padres' coaches and scouts have been impressed with McAnulty's game, but even more than that they've been impressed with the progress that he's made.

McAnulty has a chance to skip a level in the minors and could quickly become a candidate for the big league squad next season. That is, of course, asking a lot from a player who has seen just a handful of at bats above High-A, but that's one of the things McAnulty says will not affect his routine now.

"I can't think about who's ahead of me," he said. "I will play hard no matter where I'm at. One of the things this game has taught me is that you can't look ahead. I focus on what I'm doing that day. Right now I'm in the Arizona Fall League, and I'm working hard on things I can control. I can't control where the Padres put me next year, all I can do is work."

He's working on seeing pitches, but also seeing pitchers: "I'm seeing the best pitchers in the minors down here, a lot of these guys will make their Major League clubs next year, so I'm trying to get to know them, figure out what they've got and how they are pitching me. There isn't anyone you can take for granted here. Every single guy playing in this league has something special, that's why they are here. So I just watch, listen and learn as much as I can."

For McAnulty, the honor of Minor League Position Player of the Year is something he wasn't looking for, he wasn't counting on. He's here to play, work, play, and work.

But that is exactly why has given him the award, because Paul McAnulty has the talent, and even more importantly, the work ethic, to move up.

James Renwick is Managing Editor of and covers the Arizona Fall League for and

The top three in voting from

1) Paul McAnulty – he played well from the start of the season until the end with very few patches of inconsistent play. If he had anyone to hit around him, anyone at all, the kid would have posted even better numbers.
2) George Kottaras – he went from part-time player to future superstar in a short time span. Kottaras took time off to play for Greece in the Olympics and his lack of playing time coupled with the success of McAnulty kept him out of the winner's circle.
3) Tagg Bozied – The guy was simply crushing the ball before his freak injury and would have been hard to beat had he remained healthy. He actually had more RBI's than games played.

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