Disappointments in the Padres' system

Consistency is one of the primary reasons players find themselves working their way through the minor leagues. Struggling to find that often permeates through a season and struggles become magnified. A few Padre prospects experienced the crunch this season after promising years in 2005.

1) Ben Krosschell

Perhaps it was too much to annoint a 19-year old kid as the next Jake Peavy. Krosschell has always had the "stuff" to be dominant but his mind has gotten in the way this time around.

His command faltered this year and the right-hander struggled mentally with regaining control. Knowing you have to throw strikes while you struggle is one of the hardest things to do and becomes a deterrent at every turn. It is that consuming mindset that beseeched the talented pitcher.

Forgetting about the game will be important to Krosschell this off-season. While he denied it, there is a feeling that he did too much last off-season to prepare for 2006. He didn't have any "me" time. Clearing his head will lead to wonders that a pitching coach can't teach and it won't surprise to see him back near the top of his game next season.

2) Matt Bush

Slated to begin the year with Lake Elsinore, Bush was lost for the first half of the year to a broken leg. He hit the disabled list a second time and this has to be chalked up as a lost year of development as he sits in the Midwest League. Even in the Instructional League he missed time.

Bush has a fiery attitude this season that could be viewed as arrogance - it will be interesting to see if he can back up words with a more competent bat. A third trip to the disabled list further marred what could have been a solid building year for the shortstop.

Now, he will have to struggle with being a year older and no further along in his development than a year ago.

3) Colt Morton

The big catcher came out of his shell last season and exploded onto the scene. The regression has been huge; the catcher had a tough time in the California League and was moved up to Mobile based on need, not merit Give him credit for holding his own up there.

Morton has always been forced to shorten his swing but has found other holes dogging him, including chasing pitches out of the zone and hitting them weakly. While he remains a potential stud with his bat, the concerns over his struggles have become magnified since he has seen them in the past.

He is getting a chance in the Arizona Fall League and that could be just what the doctor ordered - a confidence boost that propels him into next season and a springboard for the future.

On the plus side, his defensive work has been praised up and down the system.

4) Riki Paewai

He started the year off doing quite well on the mound in Eugene but got into some trouble off the field by missing curfew. He was then banished to Arizona where his struggles began.

Paewai made it into just ten games before arm trouble ended his year. The biggest problem is that his delivery suffered down in Peoria. Mechanics were thrown out the window and that led to an increased strain on his arm.

The right-hander had been trying to impress after putting himself in the doghouse. Given his electric stuff, he likely won't be there long.

5) Mike Baxter

The former fourth round pick has played well defensively but the Padres expected a more consistent approach at the plate and bigger offensive numbers.

Given his position on the field, corner outfield, the expectations are a little bit higher for Baxter. He is still learning how to hit and perhaps the power will come. The end of the year did show promise for the future.

He also has the intangibles that are often overlooked, a hard worker and consummate professional. But the gaps that the Padres believed he would hit have eluded him. Baxter is still young and the Friars remain faithful to his cause. Given his work ethic it is more than possible.

6) Jonathan Ellis

Ellis was on his way to making the top climbers before his suspension for violating the Minor League Drug and Prevention Program. His 50-game season marred an otherwise impressive campaign. He was sent to the Arizona Fall League to get more work in and expressed genuine disappointment in himself for his actions.

7) Matt Varner

Varner had the locked up the role of closer in Lake Elsinore but was suspended 50 games for violating the Minor League Drug and Prevention Program. He spent the rest of the year in middle relief and his status took a hit.

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