Padres Instructional League wrapup

Over 70 prospects packed their bags and left the Padres' complex in Peoria, Ariz. on Friday, marking the end of the organization's fall instructional league. The instructs offer a unique opportunity for a club to work with young players from their minor league teams and focus on specific skills they want to develop throughout the organization.

For the first time, the Padres' camp included many players from their operations in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, exposing those players to the club's coaches and the routine of professional baseball in the United States.

After five weeks of work, players, coaches and staff gathered Thursday evening for the camp awards dinner and to celebrate the prospects' accomplishments.

In recognition of their on-field production and off-field leadership and work ethic, second baseman Sean Kazmar and shortstop Juan Ciriaco shared this year's Tony Gwynn MVP Award.

Both the award-winners worked hard coming off their first full-season campaigns. Kazmar, drafted out of community college last year, spent the year in Ft. Wayne where he got one nod as the MadFriars.com hitter of the year [LINK]. Ciriaco, one of the more advanced products of the Padres' Dominican program, had 44 extra base hits and 17 stolen bases in 120 games at Lake Elsinore.

"Both those guys had long years, but they came out and did everything we asked them to do," said Bill Bryk, the Padres' minor league instruction coordinator. Ciriaco has opted to extend his long year even more, heading out a few days early to play winter ball in his native Dominican Republic where he'll be joined by fellow prospect Yordany Ramirez.

While the two middle infielders shared the top award, it was this year's second-round pick Chase Headley who really turned heads. A close runner-up in the MVP selection, Headley got the nod both as "Mr. Clutch" and the award for offensive achievement.

"He really improved his power," said Bryk. "He worked hard to be ‘patiently aggressive' and build his power potential."

Nick Hundley, also a product of the second round this year, continued to work on strike zone control, tying Javis Diaz for the organizational lead in on-base percentage in game action.

Diaz, who was among the summer's Rookie League leaders in average, slugging and on-base percentage, continued his excellent first year stateside.


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