Prospect Profile: Eddie Bonnie

An early promotion to Lake Elsinore, after just five starts with Fort Wayne, pushed Eddie Bonine up to the California League. After dazzling the masses with the Wizards, the right-hander fought his way through the tougher league and was slightly humbled.

After sporting a 1.98 ERA with Fort Wayne and averaging better than a strikeout per inning, Eddie Bonine was promoted to Lake Elsinore. He found out life wasn't so fun on the other side.

In his first year of extended action in the Padres' system, Bonine went 5-10 for the Storm in 21 starts with an ERA of 5.45.

"Eddie Bonine - that was the toughest one for me." Tye Waller, the Padres' Director of Player Development, explained. "Stuff-wise, there is enough there. He pitched enough good games where that 5-10 could have been 10-5 - if he could have gotten out of that one inning."

The culprit? The fourth inning was as good a choice as any. Hitters bat .341 against him in the fourth inning and had an ERA of 6.43. He also had a 6.43 ERA in the third inning but he kept the opposition from hitting as well. By contrast, his first inning ERA was a slim 3.00.

One of his trouble spots was getting through an inning when men got on base. Hitters batted .328 against him with runners in scoring position. Ironically, he yielded a .242 batting average when the bases were empty.

"In his first six to eight starts, one inning cost him," Waller added. "He would get in that one inning and he couldn't get out. He would shut them out in every other inning in every one of those starts. It became mental as well."

In 11 of his starts, Bonine allowed four earned runs or more. He went 12 straight starts without a win during one point in the season but seemed to get stronger at the end of the year. Minus one bad outing in August where he gave up eight runs, seven earned, he had four games where he surrendered seven earned runs total.

His strikeout totals remained high in Lake Elsinore. He whiffed an average of 7.7 batters per nine innings while keeping his walk totals to one every three innings pitched, resulting in a 1.43 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). He was also credited with 12 wild pitches.

Early in the year with Fort Wayne, Bonine allowed just six earned runs in five starts and limited hitters to a .236 average.

Perhaps the challenge was a bit more than he could handle at the time and when he got smacked around once it made it easier the second time.

The Padres like to challenge their pitchers and Bonine clearly showed he has the capability to dominate. A year wiser, he should blossom.

"That is part of the process we have to go through to develop these guys," Waller said. "Now he knows what to expect and I think he will come back better served. I think you will see a turnaround with Bonine."

The California League is tough on any pitcher coming through the system. With hitter-friendly parks and air that allows the ball to travel, it is one of the challenges a pitcher in the system faces, equal to what hitters face in the Southern League. Now that Bonine has seen what Lake Elsinore has to offer, our bet is he bounces back with renewed confidence and attacks the strike zone with a vengeance.

As Waller said, "he has the stuff."

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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