Padres Prospect Pulse: Dropping stock

This is the thankless part of the job. Honesty in an assessment, however, is more crucial to development than telling someone they are better than they are. With objective criticism, the hope is the prospect will take what has been said and become a better player – starting with these Padres' prospects.

Tim Stauffer was the golden child when the year began, touted as being a strong candidate for the number five spot in the San Diego rotation.

After making six starts in Portland, Stauffer became just that. But his ERA got progressively worse as the season wore on and he was shipped back to Triple-A after 15 starts and a 5.33 ERA.

Things weren't much better when he arrived with the Beavers. He posted a 10.73 ERA in his first six starts after rejoining the squad. But not to worry, his last start gave a glimpse of his resolve – a complete game three-hitter.

While it is true his stock has fallen since last we looked, this is not to say his future isn't bright. He has moxie and a strong ability to bounce back from adversity. It is one of many qualities that have endeared the Padres to him. The key is staying consistent with his pitches and keeping the ball down. When his ball is elevated it tends to leave the park, as witnessed by his ten homers allowed in San Diego.

He will again be given every opportunity in the spring and depending on how the pitching lineup stacks up, he could be a cog in the starting rotation. It may depend on what the team does with similar pitchers in Brian Lawrence and Woody Williams.

Saying the start of the year for Luis Cruz was terrible is being kind. It was downright awful. He had one extra base hit and two RBI's through his first 31 games with Mobile and was hitting .152.

Looking to give him a change of scenery, the Padres sent him to Mexico to regain some confidence. There he hit .283 with 22 extra base hits in 61 games – but it is not the level of competition that Double-A is.

He arrived back in Mobile towards the middle of August and hit .174 with the team the rest of the way, but showed more pop, netting five extra base hits in 13 games.

Cruz, 21, had just come off his best hitting year with Lake Elsinore with 46 extra base hits in 124 contests. Given his age, he has the ability to bounce back from the low point in his Padres tenure.

The question may be where to play him if the Padres bring Juan Ciriaco up to Mobile. Cruz earned the right to try his luck again in Double-A and given his age he will be afforded an extra shot or two.

Clark Girardeau entered the year with some promise. He displayed low walk totals, the ability to throw strikes and a low batting average against. His one problem seemed to be the long ball.

But he never seemed to find a comfort level through the year. After logging a 4.15 ERA in Fort Wayne, Girardeau was shipped to Lake Elsinore where he struggled.

He wound up losing his last six decisions and had an ERA of 10.80 over the final three months of the season. While he did have tightness in his throwing arm for a portion of that time, his inconsistency led to a decision by then Director of Player Development Tye Waller to leave him off the post-season roster as the Storm chased the California League Championship.

Obviously disgruntled, he then reportedly left town to head home. A spot would open up but Girardeau was not around to take it. That, in itself, disturbed several members of the Padres organization.

His future remains cloudier than most but responding to adversity is part of the job.

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