Lake Elsinore Position Player of the Year

The Lake Elsinore Storm may have missed out on the playoffs but several members of the Mobile BayBears said, "Paul McAnulty single-handedly won the first round of the playoffs for us."

Position Player of the Year for Year

Paul McAnulty (OF/1b)
5-foot-10, 220 lbs.
Date of birth - 2/24/81

2004 Season: and Padres' Minor League Player of the Year. McAnulty hit .297/.404/.521 (batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage), with 23 home runs and 87 RBIs.

A further look into the stats reveals that Paul posted the best K/BB ratio of any member of the Storm striking out 106 times to 86 walks, which not only led the Storm, but tied him for the lead in the California League. The biggest change in McAnulty from previous years was not only his new trimmed up body, ending comparisons between him and John Kruk, but his new found power, a part of his game that had not been evident before.

A late season promotion to Mobile for the playoffs, McAnulty continued his progression hitting safely in two out of the three games he appeared. He also knocked in a bunch of runs for the BayBears and led them to a Southern League Championship.

In the Arizona Fall League, McCauley again continued to turn heads batting .353/.400/.647, with six home runs and 25 RBI's in only 102 at bats. In proving that he could become a serviceable outfielder, and dramatically increasing his home run output as well as conditioning, McAnulty has turned himself into a legitimate prospect.

"Fantastic," Padres' Director of Player Development Tye Waller said of McAnulty.

Background: McAnulty was drafted in the 12th round out of Long Beach State in 2002. In his first professional season he won the Pioneer League batting title, hitting .379/.488/604, and leading the Pioneer League in doubles. However, according to the most recent issue of Baseball America, blowing up to 260 lbs last year at Fort Wayne considerable slowed McAnulty. Even at that increased weight he still posted good offensive numbers .273/.370/.378, with 7 home runs and 73 RBIs in 133 games. What did suffer were his defense and the perception of the Padres how serious he was about his career.

2005 Outlook and beyond: 2005 will be a huge year for McAnulty. To make it as an OF/1b is very difficult, and especially with what the Padres have in the major leagues and with players such as Xavier Nady, Jon Knott and Tagg Bozied ahead of him. On the other hand there are other factors that could propel McAnulty forward. First and foremost is he is a left-handed batter in a system that is very weak with left-handed hitters. Currently, the only real left-handed hitter above A ball is Jake Gautreau or the switch-hitting Freddy Guzman. Additionally, the Padres will probably have to move at least one and possibly two of Nady, Knott or Bozied in the coming year. Factor in the Padres should have Nevin, Klesko and possibly Giles gone by 2006, and McAnulty could become a factor. However, the jump from A ball to the AA leagues is the toughest in baseball, outside of going to the major leagues.

Runner Up:

Michael Johnson (1b) (number eight on top ten disappointments)
6-foot-3, 215 lbs.
Date of birth - 6/25/80

2004 Season: A bit of a controversial pick, especially in light of my colleague Denis Savage naming him one of the Padres top ten disappointments, but there are some factors that merit the inclusion of Michael Johnson.

Although Johnson only hit .254, his on base percentage was .358 combined with a slugging percentage of .471, for a .829 OPS, which was second only to McAnulty on the Storm in 2004. Throw in 15 home runs with 64 RBIs in only 331 at bats, and you wonder what Johnson would have done with an extra 200 at bats.

Finally, Johnson is another one of the Padres few left-handed hitting prospects, in a system with very little left-handed power.

"He did have a setback with his injury and we could not get him to keep any hitting consistency," Waller said of Johnson.

Background: Johnson was the Padres second round pick in the 2002 draft, right after his teammate Khalil Greene at Clemson. In a strange move, Johnson turned down the Padres offer of $900,000 to return to Clemson for his fifth year.

After a good, but not great senior year, Johnson signed with the Padres just before the 2003 draft for $500,000. Not one of the better financial moves in baseball history.

In both 2003 and 2004 Johnson has spent significant time on the disabled list, but has shown flashes of power and patience at the plate that led the Padres to select him so high in 2002.

2005 Outlook and beyond: Mike will be 25 in June, which is old for a Double-A player. He needs to put together solid numbers at Mobile during the first half of the season, hopefully for a potential call up to Portland in mid-season. Like Tagg Bozied, Johnson is limited to 1b, so his odds of making to the major leagues will be difficult. A great deal will depend on what the Padres do with the people ahead of him, but as with McAnulty, his powerful left-handed bat will be his biggest asset; but he has to prove to the Padres that he can stay healthy first.

John Conniff can be reached at

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