Pitcher of the Year for Peoria

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 you 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."

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.

Ben Krosschell

Right-handed pitcher

6-foot-1, 165 pounds

Birthrate: 10/2/85

2004 Season:  Ben had a nice debut season. In 48 innings pitched he struck out 40, while walking only 19. Krosschell went 1-3, with a 2.42 ERA in 14 starts. Most importantly he demonstrated a 93-mph fastball, one of the best of any Padres draft pick this year.

In his best performance, in his last start of the season, Ben threw five innings of no-hit, no-run ball in late August. He walked three batters and struck out seven. He left the game with the scored knotted at 0-0, thus denied the win. It was his best outing of the year and the best of any starter in Peoria this year.

Background:  Ben was the sixteenth selection of the Padres in the 2004 draft out of Highlands Ranch High School in Colorado. Baseball America ranked him as having one of the best fastballs of any of the Padres draft picks, and because of his potential to gain more size he could become even better.

2005 Outlook:  Ben should get an opportunity to make the Fort Wayne club, and could turn into a very legitimate prospect. He performed better as the season went further, and should benefit from being removed from the oppressive heat of the Arizona League. The Padres, after only selecting a high school player after twenty six rounds in 2003, selected three with their very first picks in 2004, and four overall with their first twenty. Krosschell was the last of the four high school picks, and performed well when given the opportunity.

Next year's Fort Wayne team may finally become an interesting blend of high school and collegiate talent. Overall, the four high school selections, Bush, Killian, Jones and Krosschell easily have the most upside of any of the players who played in Eugene or Arizona this year.

Runner Up

E.J. Shanks

Right-handed reliever

6-foot-5, 230 pounds

Birthdate: 4/8/82

2004 Season: Again, it is difficult to rate college players at this level. For the most part, the Padres began most of their more promising collegiate draft picks at Eugene. The one exception to this rule may be Shanks, a 6-foot-5, 230 pound right-handed pitcher out of Oklahoma City University. In the Arizona League, Shanks struck out 35 batters in 28 innings, against only seven base on balls and five earned runs. Additionally, EJ went 2-1 with 1.63 ERA, which earned him a late season promotion to Eugene. At Eugene, EJ appeared in two games, and was called up to Lake Elsinore for one game as well.

He has a fastball and change which are considered good pitches and a below average curveball. According to scouts, when that is on, he is nearly knittable. His fastball is in the low 90's (90-92 mph) but rumor is the Padres think he will eventually reach 95 with it.

Background: Shanks was selected by the Padres in the twenty ninth round of the 2004 draft. Shanks, a native of Las Vegas, was a NAIA All-American in his last year at Oklahoma City University. At Oklahoma City University, Shanks finished the season leading the pitching staff in wins with a 16-1 record. He recorded a 2.89 ERA, 37 walks and 113 strikeouts.

2005 Outlook: The Padres believe Shanks future will be in the bullpen, not as a starter.

Shanks pitched well in the Arizona League, and it is a bit of a mystery why he wasn't promoted quicker.

Shanks should start the season in Fort Wayne in 2005, and could compete for the closer role in 2005. If he succeeds, we will see him in Lake Elsinore quickly.

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