Padres name organization award winners

SAN DIEGO, CA -- The San Diego Padres matched in naming Will Venable and Mike Ekstrom as the Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez was named Padres Most Valuable Player and Madres Favorite New Padre, right-handed pitcher Trevor Hoffman received both the Clyde McCullough Award as the club's Pitcher of the Year and the inaugural Fireman's Award, and right-handed pitcher Jake Peavy won the Chairman's Award for contributions to the San Diego community tonight at the 2006 Padres Awards Dinner. Held at the Marriott Hotel & Marina for the seventh consecutive year, the event benefited United Cerebral Palsy of San Diego County, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Padres Foundation for Children. This year's program featured keynote speaker Robert Wuhl, whose movie credits include "Batman," "Good Morning Vietnam," "Cobb" and "Bull Durham" as well as a starring role on the HBO show "Arliss."

In addition, the Padres 2006 minor league award winners were also honored during the ceremonies. Outfielder Will Venable was named Minor League Player of the Year, while right-handed pitcher Mike Ekstrom earned Pitcher of the Year honors. In addition, Carlos Lezcano received the Jack Krol Award for contributions in player development and Ash Lawson was named Scout of the Year.

Gonzalez, 24, finished the season with a .304 batting average (173-for-570), 38 doubles, 24 home runs, 82 RBI and 83 runs scored in 156 games. He led the Padres in numerous offensive categories, including batting average, hits, home runs, doubles and slugging percentage (.500). Acquired by the Padres from the Texas Rangers on January 4, Gonzalez played in over 50 Major League games for the first time in his career. His breakout year was highlighted by a stellar July in which he hit .362 (38-for-105) with eight homers, 25 RBI, nine doubles and a .676 slugging percentage in 26 games. His outstanding play in the month culminated in a National League Player of the Week honor for the span of July 17-23, when he led the league in average (.607), slugging percentage (.964), on-base percentage (.645), hits (17) and total bases (27). In the month, Gonzalez also recorded his second, team-high 17-game hitting streak of the season (May 17-June 9 and July 6-26).

Hoffman reached several milestones during the 2006 season while posting the second highest save total of his career, converting a National League-best 46-of-51 save opportunities (.902). The 39-year-old finished the year with an 0-2 record and a 2.14 ERA (15 ER/63.0 IP), holding opponents to a .206 average (48-for-233). With a perfect ninth inning September 24 vs. Pittsburgh, he passed Lee Smith to take sole possession of the all-time saves record, which now stands at 482. Hoffman also extended his Major League record for 40-save seasons to eight, while passing Smith for the most 30-save seasons by recording the 11th of his career. Hoffman has now been named San Diego's Pitcher of the Year a team-record eight times and is the first recipient of the Fireman's Award, recognizing the Padres top relief pitcher. The inaugural Fireman's Award was presented by San Diego Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief J.T. Thomson.

Peavy received the Chairman's Award, presented annually since 1995 to the Padre who best exemplifies the community spirit of club Chairman John Moores and his family. Peavy was instrumental in bringing a Teen FOCUS camp to San Diego in 2006. A program he supported in Mobile, Alabama, the organization provides mentors for teenage boys who are without fathers. Peavy also established a ticket program this season, purchasing tickets and five-dollar food vouchers for 1,150 kids and chaperones. Additionally, the right-handed pitcher participated in the "Channel 4 Celebrity Pour" which benefited the Padres Foundation, and Strike Outs for the Troops, in which he donated money for each of the 215 strikeouts he recorded this season to benefit injured service personnel.

Venable, 24, hit .314 (148-for-472) with 11 home runs, 34 doubles, 91 RBI and 86 runs scored in 124 games with Double-A Fort Wayne in 2006. Named a reserve outfielder on the Midwest League's Eastern Division All-Star Team and a Midwest League Postseason All-Star, Venable paced the Wizards in several offensive categories while also finishing among the league leaders in average (second), runs (T-first), RBI (second), hits (third), doubles (fourth) and on-base percentage (.389, third). Originally drafted by the Padres in the seventh round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, he is the son of Padres minor league coach Max Venable.

Ekstrom, San Diego's 12th-round selection in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, began the season at Single-A Lake Elsinore where he went 7-4 with a 2.30 ERA (21 ER/82.1 IP) in 14 starts. His win total tied for the team-high as he helped to lead the Storm to a 36-34 first half record. After a promotion to Double-A Mobile, Ekstrom went 3-7 with a 3.84 ERA (36 ER/84.1 IP) in 14 starts for the BayBears. The 23-year-old right-hander tossed four complete games between his two stops in 2006, including two shutouts. He combined to record 117 strikeouts and only 40 walks in 166.2 innings of work.

The recipient of the Jack Krol Award, Lezcano managed the Peoria Padres to a 36-19 record (.655) and an Arizona League Championship. After finishing with a league-best 18-10 first-half record, the Padres went on to post an 18-9 second-half mark. The team captured the title on August 31 with a 5-2 win over the Tempe Angels. Led by Lezcano, the Padres paced the Arizona League in average (.290), walks (305) and on-base percentage (.391). The 49-year-old completed his fourth year as the manager of San Diego's Rookie-level affiliate and 14th as a minor league skipper. Prior to joining the Padres in 2003, he managed in the Milwaukee Brewers (1999-2002), San Francisco Giants (1996-98) and Seattle Mariners (1992-94) organizations. Lezcano, who owns a 635-570 (.527) career record as a manager, was named the 1996 California League Manager of the Year with Single-A San Jose (Giants).

Lawson, recipient of this season's Scout of the Year award, has covered the mid-Atlantic states for the past three years. Among his contributions to the Padres in 2006, he is credited with signing San Diego's first-round draft pick, infielder Matt Antonelli, and supplemental first-round pick, outfielder Kyler Burke. Lawson is the 13th scout all-time to receive the prestigious award, named in honor of longtime Padre scout Denny Galehouse.

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