Padres 2006 Instructional League awards

The 2006 San Diego Padres Instructional League is coming to a close, which also means that the awards have been handed out. It is a prelude to the staff and players finally getting a few days off in a row and inspiration for these prospects to continue their hard work heading into 2007.

"Improvement in players and attitudes," Grady Fuson, the Padres vice president of scouting and player development, said on how he measures success. "Getting guys on board but more importantly the ability to work.

"The work ethic, the fun that was had down there as well as the development. These kids finished stronger than they started. The last four or five days was fun to watch."

How good were the last few days?

"After an off-day we had a game at 10 AM on Monday and we play well," Fuson began. "The next day we have a game at 10 AM and absolutely obliterated the baseball with 21 hits and 25 hard contacts.

"The last five days they played like they didn't want to leave."

"This is one of the best group of kids we ever had both on and off the field," Bill Bryk, the Padres' minor league field coordinator admitted.

On Thursday, the Padres handed out their awards to players and staff, recognizing different areas of excellence.

San Diego Padres 2006 Fall Instructional League awards

Strength and Conditioning:

Stronger, bigger and faster. It is a motto many prospects will carry into the off-season. For two players, it was a trait personified throughout Instructs with their work in the weight room.

Right-handed pitcher Tyler Mead
Shortstop Jesus Lopez

Defensive Specialist:

Considered one of the finest defenders in the system, the winner of this award surprised no one.

Shortstop Jesus Lopez

Mr. Clutch:

An extension of the season for this player's ability to hit with runners in scoring position.

Third baseman David Freese

Choke and poke:

Given to the player that displays a steady hand, protects the plate, and takes the ball the other way, all with two strikes.

Outfielder Luis Durango

Most improved catcher:

Works tenaciously to improve footwork, calling a game, handling balls in the dirt and all of the intricacies of the backstop position.

Catcher Nick Hundley

Offensive achievement:

All-around compilation based on stats and production throughout Instructs.

Outfielder Cedric Hunter

Most Efficient pitcher:

With the Padres stressing three pitches or less per batter this was given to the pitcher who embodied the philosophy and kept the opposition to ten pitches or less in an inning.

Right-handed pitcher Drew Miller

Top situational hitter:

Hitting behind the runner, executing the hit-and-run, doing whatever is asked – he does it all.

Outfielder Cedric Hunter

Mr. Reliable:

The relief pitcher is called upon and everyone knows the door is locked.

Right-handed pitcher John Madden

Most improved player:

From the start of Instructs until the end, these players developed in more ways than one.

Second baseman Rayner Contreras
Outfielder Sam Carter

Most improved pitcher:

From the start of Instructs until the end, this pitcher worked his tail off to enhance his status.

Right-handed pitcher Manny Ayala

Instructional League MVP:

On top of the Arizona Rookie League MVP Cedric Hunter already corralled, the outfielder also snared the Padres MVP award for the Instructional League.

Outfielder Cedric Hunter

Staff award:

Rob Deer received the award for his tireless work with the hitters down in Arizona.

Jim Lefebvre was also given an award for his help, providing double duty as a hitting instructor and the coach of the Chinese team in Arizona.

Home run derby winner:

Winner: Outfielder Nic Crosta
Runner up: Third baseman Felix Carrasco

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