Padres Minor League Notebook - 8-24-06

Several prospects in the Padres' system get a rest. The injury front isn't kind. Four players are on the list for Hawaii. The Instructional League invite list will be much smaller this year. Kyler Burke talk. Some playoff races heat up while others have gone cold and yet another is dead.

As the end of the season draws near, the San Diego Padres have taken a closer look at their prospects within the system, careful not to put too much strain on the players.

With a grueling season almost behind them, several players have been much needed rest. Left-handed starter Cesar Ramos will skip a start at the urging of Grady Fuson.

Nathan Culp and Wade LeBlanc, both selected in this year's draft, have been given extra days off to keep fresh for the playoff push in Fort Wayne.

The injury front didn't bring good news for shortstop Matt Bush. He made it into one game with the AZL Padres before succumbing to injury again. Compensating for a hamstring injury caused him to hurt his other leg. The Padres hope to have him back for their Instructional League, which begins in mid-September.

The Padres are considering bringing up Jesus Lopez to solidify the shortstop position over the next several days. Lopez has played in Fort Wayne before and is the surest defender available.

The news on Kyle Blanks is mixed. The hope is he can return for the playoffs in Fort Wayne but he may not be able to make it back in time. He is expected to be at Instructs.

Four players dot the initial list to join the Hawaiian Winter Baseball League: Peter Ciofrone, Sean Kazmar, Neil Jamison and Will Venable. An official announcement is expected as soon as the Padres finalize the details.

The Padres will bring 40 players to their fall Instructional League, down from the 80 that were invited last year. The hope is they will get more personalized tutoring to take their game to the next level this season.

It should be noted that only a handful of the players who came to Instructs last season were released by the club and that number will dwindle to next to nothing based on the early report of those who will be attendance. will post the invite list this weekend with only minor adjustments expected to happen before the names are officially finalized.

Bill Bryk, the Padres' minor league field coordinator is down in Peoria to take in the exciting AZL squad. When Kyler Burke stroked three extra base hits Bryk was asked whether he had a few words with the young outfielder.

He didn't. "He hit the ball with authority every time he came to bat," Bryk noted before switching topics. "This team is fun to watch. They stay aggressive and never give up."

The final few weeks of the season will be exciting for several teams within the system.

The Arizona Rookie League Padres won the first half and had hoped to sweep through the second half to avoid the one game Championship but it appears they will have to prove their strong start to the year wasn't a fluke. They are two games back with three teams ahead of them in the second half standings.

Eugene would a game out of first place if it played in the East but sit 11 games back within their own division. Their final six games are against the division leaders, Salem-Keizer, but with 13 games to go the magic number has been reduced to one.

Fort Wayne has a comfortable four game lead on Dayton for the final playoff spot but will be on the road for nine of their last 11 games. The Wizards have not won a playoff series since joining the Padres and have dropped six straight playoff games over the last three years. They claimed one game in the best of three in 2000 against the Michigan Battle Cats.

Lake Elsinore sits 1.5 back from Lancaster and is in the midst of a crucial series with divisional foe High Desert, a team that sits a half game back of the Storm. The Storm have not defended their home turf very well, however, posting a .500 record in the second half.

Mobile is only five games off the pace, despite a record that is two games under .500 in the second half. The BayBears will not face Montgomery, the team they chase, the rest of the year.

Portland is 12 games behind the pack with 12 games remaining. They place first place Salt Lake over the final week of the season but would have to win out with Salt Lake losing to force a tie – not including what Tacoma, five games back of the Bees, would have to do.

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