The Top 50: #35-#31

Pitchers dominate the next five in our countdown of the MadFriars.com Top 50 Padres Prospects. When you can touch 97 on the gun you'll get here, and when a fifteen game hitting streak is just getting started (literally) you'll end up on a lot of lists. Look out for Lake Elsinore, they dominate <b>#35-#31</b>.

35. Nate Sevier began slowly with the Storm, sporting a .341 batting average against and a 5.40 ERA for the month of April. He rebounded nicely by allowing earned runs in four of his next 21 appearances through May and June, limiting the opposition to a .212 batting average with an ERA of 1.57. July wasn't so kind as he slumped with a 4.97 ERA and a batting average of .309 against.

 A cumulative ERA of 3.10 was deemed excellent by California League standards and he earned a promotion to Mobile. In 11 games with Mobile, Sevier was dominant, allowing three earned runs in 18.1 innings of work and keeping the opposition to a .167 batting average. His walks were up but he was able to limit damage.

 One area of concern, especially as a reliever, was the high average he allowed with runners in scoring position. In Lake Elsinore that number was .304 and it was .250 in Mobile. Generally coming into a situation with men on base, it is his primary job to save the ERA of pitcher that began the inning. While his ERA is commendable, what was the damage he did to another pitcher?

 Sevier exceeded the expectations that the Padres had for him. He possesses a solid fastball and a nice curveball but nothing that overpowers hitters. He keeps the ball down in the zone and is confident in his pitches. That can be the difference between a winner and a loser.

34. Aaron Coonrod has all the talent and the question is whether he can put it together into a tight little package. He is another player who is wild outside of the strike zone which puts him in the hole. Once the control decides to go, it isn't an easy thing he can get back.

 He walked 30 batters in 35.2 innings with the Wizards while striking out 33. That number improved with Lake Elsinore where he struck out 37 in 33.1 innings and walked 19. His own worst enemy, Coonrod limit the opposition to a .221 batting average with the Storm.

 When the right-hander is able to put the ball over the plate, he thrives. He has a power arm and if he can stay sound mechanically will be fine.

 With an arsenal that includes a fastball that hits the mid-to-upper nineties, Coonrod will be given the necessary time to develop the mindset and mechanics that could make him dominate. When he does throw strikes with regularity, Coonrod is expected to be moved into a closer's role. One hurdle at a time.

33. Eddie Bonine wasn't happy with his 2004 season. Full of promise, Bonine was humbled when he got to the California League.

 "I wasn't real happy with how last year went," he admitted. "I believe that going into this year I may be better for it."

 After starting the year with the Wizards, where he allowed six earned runs in five starts that spanned 27.1 innings of work, Bonine was elevated to the Cal League. He left behind his 10-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio (31 K, 3 BB) and was hit around, particularly with men on base as a member of the Storm. Armed with a devastating knuckleball, sometimes referred to as a knucklecurve, he also added 12 wild pitches to his resume.

 Bonine's biggest troubles were the big inning. As the .328 average against with runners in scoring position indicates, the right-hander was not able to limit the damage laid on by the opposition.

 There is definitive reason to believe he will turn the tide on his career this season. He comes in more limber and with a stronger trunk, as well as increased stamina. Bonine wore down near the end of the 2004 campaign and worked hard this offseason to ensure that does not happen again. The one benefit that came from his decreased velocity late in the year was his reliance on his changeup. That may be the key for him moving forward.

32. Jared Wells has a fastball that can reach the mid-nineties and the key to his success is keeping the ball low. When his control wanes and ball begins to ride up in the zone, he gets smacked around.

 Wells began the year with Fort Wayne and was carving out a fine season until he lost some control in June and wound up getting tagged for four homers in four games after giving up just two in his previous ten starts. His ERA blew up by a full run and he was jettisoned from the Wizards to Lake Elsinore – a step up the chain.

 In nine of his 13 starts, Wells allowed three runs or less. A terrible month of July pushed his ERA up over 4.50 and Wells had to refine his game by relying more on finesse than power. He rebounded nicely, allowing 11 earned runs over his final six starts.

 A tale of two players, Wells performed well through the first four innings but his ERA ballooned in innings five and six. Armed with that knowledge, Wells has to rededicate himself to the game and the work begins in the offseason. Conditioning was an area of concern for Wells heading into 2004, by his own admission and it seemed to bite him as the season wore on. There is no questioning his talent, but some scouts have questioned his heart.

31. Sean Kazmar burst onto the scene in Eugene with a 14-game hitting streak beginning in the fourth game of his career. In the middle of August, Kazmar was still hitting .288 but a late season slump sent his average down the toilet. He managed to hit just .196 in August and ended the year with a .253 batting average for the Ems.

 Kazmar doesn't look like he can generate much power but he has outstanding bat speed and uses that to drive the ball to all parts of the field. He ended the year with 25 extra base hits in 70 games.

 There is concern over his pitch selection. He sometimes dives at balls and doesn't take enough pitches, walking just nine times in 65 games for Eugene. He received a late season promotion to Fort Wayne where he had hits in four of his five games but batted just .217.

 Kazmar was touted to have an outstanding glove coming out of college but he did not show that in the pros. Scouts said he had to settle down and not make everything too flashy on the routine plays. The shortstop/second baseman wasn't at all happy with his progress in the field and swore to make it a priority this offseason.


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