Position Player of the Year for Peoria

Peoria is the lowest of San Diego's six minor league teams. The Padres moved their Rookie League team from Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League to Peoria in the Arizona League to make sure their lower level prospects were competing on a more level playing field.

Tye Waller, the Padres Director of Player Development, said "The Pioneer League is an older league, really a college league now. Sometimes our younger prospects were getting overmatched. If don't have some success it can cause you to doubt your ability. We wanted them to face people that were more comparable to their age. However, I do wish we could change the weather in Phoenix, it is a little hot."

As stated in the Eugene report, the players that are assigned to the Arizona League tended to be high school players recently drafted in 2004, younger Latin players and minor leaguers on a rehabilitation assignments. In selecting the players of the year at this level, we tried to focus not only on players in their first year at this level, but also their age. For example, a fifth year college senior tearing up the Arizona League really is not going to have much of a future within the organization.

The Arizona League Padres saw the professional debuts of the three top Padres' draft picks of 2004, Matt Bush, Billy Killian and Daryl Jones. While Bush and Killian struggled in their debuts, the youngest of the three, Daryl Jones, flourished.

Position Player of the Year for Peoria

Daryl Jones
First base
6-foot-3, 200 pounds
Birthdate: 9/1/86

2004 Season: Daryl played the entire season with the Arizona Padres batting .295/.389/.327(batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage) in 149 at bats.

"You don't really know what guys can do," Waller admitted. "You kind of look at their action, what tools they might have, power and you try to develop the tools to the fullest.

"Daryl Jones is a young guy who played the whole year at 17 years old and had some success. He has some power potential and actually uses the whole field when he hits and that is always a plus."

Background: Daryl was the Padres third overall pick of the 2004 draft, selected in the fourth round out of Westchester High School in Los Angeles. A big right handed first baseman, Jones was named as the Padres best "raw power" prospect of the draft. According to Baseball America, once he learns to pull the ball he might be able to do some serious damage.

Jones, a recipient of $375K to sign with the Friars, was the last of three high school picks taken by the Padres with their first three picks in the 2004 draft. He had originally signed on to play for Cal State-Fullerton after a successful high school career at Westchester High in Los Angeles, but the deal from the Padres was too sweet to turn away.

He was voted as one of the top five players with the best raw power coming out of high school by former Baseball America reporter and newest Padres scout Josh Boyd.

2005 Outlook and beyond: The selection of Matt Bush, Billy Killian and Daryl Bush was a conscious decision by the Padres to try to get younger, to draft the higher risk/higher upside high school players. Drafting players straight out of high school allows the big league team to develop the player at a slower pace, than a college player. For example Josh Barfield is entering into his fifth year within the Padres organization and just turned 22 and will be one step away from the major leagues next year in Portland. Players the same age as Josh next year will be starting out in the short season leagues, or if their lucky, Fort Wayne. Younger players are exposed to greater levels of instruction and competition than their college counterparts, are usually allowed more time to develop and arrive at the major leagues at much earlier age. Naturally there are drawbacks, but much of any baseball draft/signings is a crap shoot.

Jones had a very good initial professional season, especially for someone so young. The real question will be if all three will not only be able to make the full season Fort Wayne Wizards, but also succeed. My guess is all three will spend the full season with the Wizards, especially with Randy Ready as their manager one of the Padres better minor league instructors.

Jones easily put together the best season of the three, and should be given an opportunity to play everyday at Fort Wayne, until he proves that he cannot. I'm always a little skeptical about minor league right handed first basemen, and will be curious to see if the Padres attempt to play Jones at positions other than first base as well. So far, he's definitely demonstrated that he has potential and has earned his opportunity.

Runners Up

Some other players had nice years, Kelvin Vasquez at second base, Peter White at first base and third base, and Nate Whitney in the outfield, but all seem to fit the dreaded profile of organizational players because of their ages.

Vasquez led the team in extra base hits with 17 and tied for the team lead in walks with 22 and runs scored with 30. He batted .272 with an on base percentage of .362.

White batted .315 on the year in 127 at bats and his on base percentage of .403 led all players with over 30 at bats.

Whitney led the team in RBI's with 29, tied for the team lead in walks with 22 and runs scored with 30 while placing second in extra base hits with 13.

Each will face a difficult time of attempting to make the roster of the Fort Wayne Wizards in Spring Training or go to extended spring training in Peoria.

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