Padres find gold with castoffs

PEORIA-- The San Diego Padres have always found a home for Independent League players, castoffs and undrafted free agents. Seeing them for two days, and getting just brief glimpses, often means they will find out they were wrong or be surprised with what they find. Several have stepped up.

Catcher Matt Stocco has shown off his arm but it is the bat the Padres were concerned with from the start. The Canadian has shown the ability to go with the pitch and flashes more of a bat than many think.

"I just have to work on consistency," Stocco admitted. "What I have to work on is plate discipline and it is coming along well.

Tim Turner, an undrafted signee a year ago, may be the fastest man in camp but it is the bat he is concerned with.

"I was so raw when I first got here," he revealed. "This offseason I really got after it. I am trying to shorten my swing as I had a lot of strikeouts last year. Put the ball in play and let my legs get working."

Matt Hagen, signed out of a tryout camp after spending his first few seasons in the Seattle Mariners' minor league system, is looking forward to his Padres' career.

"A new baseball life for me," he said. "They have been great here.

On the flipside, the Friars don't always choose wisely.

Rule 5 pickup Peter Maestrales was cut this week and offered some insight into what happened while he was here and perhaps the pressure to perform got to him and other prospects.

"You are trying to impress people right off the start," he said. "The first week I was really pressing because you are trying to gain the respect of your coaches."

The Padres have thinned out their minor league system and several more moves are expected as rosters begin to take shape. A few prospects will begin the year on the disabled list, perhaps making placement easier.

As previously mentioned, Nic Crosta will begin the year on the disabled list after hurting his ankle and appearing on crutches early in the week. He was having a torrid spring and had earned praise from many of his teammates.

"He has been impressive," shortstop Ray Chang said.

Others that will be on the disabled list when the season begins include David Mead, now doing a long toss and expected to be back on the mound soon, Javier Martinez, a Tommy John surgery recipient they have penciled in for mid-season, and David Jolliff, a San Diego native that was an infielder in college and is making his way on the mound with the Padres.

Cuts are expected to take place in the next day or two.

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