Scouting Padres Prospect: Ben Krosschell

The Padres are rarely in the market for a high school pitcher but came away with a potential stud in 2004 with the selection of Ben Krosschell.

A 16th round pick in 2004, Ben Krosschell had a solid debut season with the Padres rookie league club and moved onto short-season Eugene for his encore.

Pitching at 19 during the season, Krosschell had misleading numbers.

A look at his 2-7 record may make you think that the 6-foot-1 right-hander had a disappointing year, ranking second in the Northwest League in losses. But the reality is he had the worst run support of any pitcher in the Padres' minor league system. While his 4.70 ERA was not ideal, Krosschell wasn't as bad as you would be led to believe and his upside is unquestioned.

In his seven losses, the Eugene offense managed just nine runs. You read that right. Seven games – nine runs. And in six of those losses he incurred, the Emeralds managed five runs, scoring four in his other loss.

After only pitching in 48.1 innings the year before out of high school, the extra workload had an effect. The 6-foot-1, right-hander worked 76.2 innings, struggling when he got into the fifth inning of games, allowing ten runs in 11 fifth-innings. In the sixth inning, his average against skyrocketed to .389.

The Colorado native wasn't very big on working out when he joined the Padres and he has changed his off-season habits but it will take time to gain the stamina necessary for a full season where he routinely pitches into the sixth inning.

Those numbers were in contrast to his .272 average against for the year. Krosschell does have strikeout material pitches and possesses good control – 59 strikeouts to 18 walks – but throws to contact. In one game he got 14 straight batters to put the ball in play, using three pitches or fewer on each.

Termed spongy because he ended the year with little meat on his bones – and nicknamed "SpongeBob" – Krosschell is a player that is frequently sought in trades as people around the league take notice of him.

Krosschell has a lively arm with a plus-fastball (two-seam and four-seam) that can reach the low-nineties with projected velocity increase. He also uses a slider that is roughly ten MPH slower than his fastball. Using a slow delivery, he has the ability to hide the ball effectively and comes at right-handers with a quick whip of his arm – holding them to a .238 average against.

"This kid was throwing 90-93 and throwing strikes and got people out," scouting director Bill Gayton said. "A good fastball and he revamped his delivery this past year. He will flash a plus change, plus slider at times. When you factor in age, his numbers are much better."

When the Padres selected him, Krosschell had only been pitching for a year but California-based scout Jake Wilson was impressed with what he saw.

Krosschell is still working on his changeup – a pitch he rarely threw in high school. He understands that it is a pitch that has propelled many a prospect to success and has tried hard to make it a plus-pitch. At one point, he experimented with 15 different grips to get the right feel for the pitch. He is now gaining confidence in its effectiveness and it will be important as he moves forward and continues the learning process.

"I was very impressed with was Ben Krosschell," outfielder Drew Davidson said of his teammate in Eugene. "As he develops and learns situational pitching, gets a little more command of his changeup and learns when to throw each pitch I think that he is going to be a very good player."

This off-season will be a test for the young right-hander. Slated to move on to full-season ball, Krosschell must show he can take the beating over a long season. An effective third pitch will also limit the success of lefties who swatted .316 off him in 2005, especially when the movement on his pitches tails into the meat of a left-handed hitters' bat.

He finished the season weighing in at 162 but the Padres asked him to gain weight and he is now at 180. Holding that weight effectively over the grind of the season will be a challenge.

"He has a good arm," added Gayton. "A late bloomer in terms of physical maturity."

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