Padres prospect stock: On the rise

After the opening month of minor league baseball, several prospects have landed on the map as legitimate talents. They may have been overlooked in the past but the success is becoming tough to toss aside now.

Michael Johnson has been considered a disappointment heading into the 2005 season. With his third stint in Lake Elsinore – Johnson was clearly not performing like his former Clemson teammate, Khalil Greene.

Everyone knew he had a sweet stroke but pure sugar cane is bitter compared to the year he is in the midst of. Johnson leads the entire minors in RBI's with 32, leads all the minors in the sacrifice fly category with five, and his eight homers rank fourth with the minors.

Tom Vincent didn't show a whole lot of anything last year with Eugene. He barely touched .200 throughout the season before coming on strong at the end, but was considered an afterthought.

The Australian committed to baseball during the offseason and came back on a mission. He is now at the forefront among prospects, hitting .364 with 14 RBI's and six stolen bases. In 56 games, Vincent had 13 multi-hit games and he already has eight in 17 games this year.

The Padres have always loved Juan Ciriaco. They hate his defense. He committed 44 errors a year ago and has ten in 22 games this year. Take away the defense, however, and Ciriaco is on the map.

The Friars are not very forgiving on defense angst, but a .367 average can go a long way towards dispelling his deficiencies. After hitting .241 a year ago, Ciriaco hasn't shown a lot of patience at the plate but has been hitting them where the defenders aren't.

Bobby Scales is hitting .353 on the year in Portland, a year after he hit .235 for the Triple-A club.

Scales, who hit one homer in 73 games with Portland last year, already has knocked three out of the park. He had a six game hitting streak and what is amazing about the streak is in three games he only got to the plate once – as a pinch hitter.

Left-handed reliever Craig Breslow has been a breath of fresh air in Mobile. Signed out of a tryout camp, Breslow has gone six straight outings without allowing a run and has given up runs in just one of his eleven appearances this year.

Taking the role of middle relief, Breslow has picked off three runners and has allowed seven hits in 13.2 innings.

After a strong season of relief with Fort Wayne, Paul Abraham has knocked em down in Lake Elsinore. Facing the toughest league in the Padres' system, Abraham has yet to allow an earned run.

After holding a WHIP of 1.41 last year, and that number has dropped to 0.71 this year in 14 innings of work.

After spending most of the year on and off the trainer's table, Luke Steidlmayer has proven himself more than effective in middle relief.

Steidlmayer has an ERA of 0.63 on the year and recorded all five of his outs by way of the strikeout in his April 29 outing.

Fabian Jimenez was 2-6 with a 6.95 ERA last year, yet he still made the top twenty prospect list on MadFriars.com. This year, he is earning his pay in lump sums.

He has allowed just seven hits this year in 21.1 innings (no more than two in any outing) of work and has allowed three runs over that span. He is 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA. If he can drop his walk totals, 11, look out.

Michael Ekstrom went 1-3 with a 3.69 ERA last year but has been dominant for Fort Wayne in 2005. The right hander is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA.

Ekstrom allowed just one run over his first 17 innings of work, spanning three starts, and hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his starts.

Although Mike Thompson turned in a solid season from a won-loss perspective in 2004, the opposition logged a ton of hits off him.

This year, he is a changed man. He has made five starts and has allowed seven runs, two or less in each game, and batters are struggling to connect on the righty. They are hitting just .216 off him.


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