Padres Top 50 Prospects: #40-#36

The Top 50 continues, and with the exception of the numbers before the names there is no pattern to be picked up on. Record breaking power hitters alongside 19 year old pitchers? The rankings are in. <b>40. Mike Thompson </b>suffered through seasons of mediocrity in the Padres' system before finally "getting it" this past season. To hear scouts in the system recant his tale, they say some players, and more precisely pitchers, take longer than others to grasp the game. <br><br>

The right-hander began the year in the bullpen, allowing runs in four of his 17 appearances. He was promoted to the starting rotation and went 9-2, winning his first five decisions.

Thompson's game is based on putting the ball in play and trusting his defenders. He does not have overpowering stuff and won't register a ton of strikeouts. What he does well is damage control. He buckles down when men get on base.

While leadoff hitters smacked him around and tore him up at a clip of .397, he limited the opposition to a .223 batting average with men on base.

Those numbers are not something he can carry over into next season. Allowing the leadoff hitter to get on base it taboo and Thompson has to feel a little lucky that he did not get burned. At 24, he still has time to grow into the pitcher he will become and that starts with focus from the time he takes the hill until the third out of each inning.

39. Ben Krosschell was selected out of high school in the 2004 draft. At 19 years old, he has not yet grown into his frame. Despite being thin, Krosschell has an above average fastball and a slider with late breaking action.

Playing for the Peoria Padres, Krosschell led the team with 11 starts and ranked second on the team in innings pitched. His 40 strikeouts also led the team and it was due to his ability to set up hitters with his fastball and get them chasing his slider.

The Padres are working on his ability to throw from the windup as he played most of his high school ball throwing from the stretch. There was also some debate over whether to change his motion from three-quarters to more of an overhand.

The right-hander can get wild at times, walking over three batters per nine innings coupled with seven wild pitches. He does, however, know how to pitch out of trouble. He allowed the opposition to hit .263 off him and held a 2.42 ERA. With time, he should begin to blossom in the system.

38. Billy Killian was considered the top prospect coming out of Michigan this year and he is the son of part-time Padres' scout William Killian. That has certainly given him a leg up since he knows a little more about what to expect on the road traveled.

Killian has an advanced eye for his age and is a good contact hitter who rarely strikes out. Unfortunately, the balls didn't fall for him a whole lot in 2004. His .230 average in Peoria reflects more on the transition from high school ball.

His work at the plate, as with any catcher, will always be "in progress". He has had the benefit of picking the minds of some of the best catchers to ever play in the Majors, including Carlton Fisk. Killian knows that putting in his work behind the plate may be more vital to his success than what he does with the bat in hand. While taking both seriously, he thrives on his ability to catch and call a good game. The best praise is the one overheard from the pitching staff on his abilities.

A catcher, Killian will be given all the time needed to produce as he moves up the chain. He is mature beyond his age and it is part of the reason he was thrown in the fire at Portland and allowed to get some at bats.

37. Greg Sain had a record setting year with Mobile. He broke the Mobile home run record by hammering 28 jacks. His homers became the stuff of legends at the Hank with his booming shots but he hasn't been able to accompany his power with a solid average.

After hitting .268 in April, Sain hit .199 over the next two months. A .293 July saved his season from being a total collapse and he ended the year batting .235. Just as troubling, Sain hit .223 with runners in scoring position. Slated in the cleanup spot for most of the year, he was only driving in runs when he hit when out of the park.

He spent most of his time at first base but there has been talk of moving him to third, a spot he manned seven times in '04. He doesn't have great range but possesses a cannon arm. Sain has also spent time behind the plate as a catcher.

Sain struck out 140 times in 133 games. He has a long swing that generates tons of power but may need to shorten it to continue his progress. Homers may get the chicks, but if he does not show he has the ability to knock a single through the hole to advance the runner, it won't matter. His 66 walks were also a tad disappointing considering his power.

36. Michael Johnson is 25 years old and had to repeat the California League in 2004, pushing him down the prospect list. Injuries further hampered his development and he has a tendency to focus too much on getting hits rather than driving the ball and letting it fall where it may.

The first baseman has a sweet swing and many scouts believe his problems stem from the mental aspect of the game. The feeling is if he learns to overcome that obstacle, he could again cement his status as a legitimate prospect.

Johnson has the power to make waves and his defense at first is above average – although late season problems at the bag put that in question. Starting in Lake Elsinore again would be a huge mental barrier – but odds are he has done all he can in High-A and will end up in Mobile.

The problem is Double-A and more specifically the Southern League is not considered friendly to hitters. If he struggles to hit, will his confidence spiral further downhill? Given his age, the Padres are running out of time to challenge him and he must respond now or fall completely off the list.

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