Scouting Padres Prospect Jonathan Ellis

It was one of those seasons to forget for Jonathan Ellis – sort of. Poised to make a big step forward this year, the right-hander fell victim to a 50 game suspension for violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Vital Statistics;
Name: Jonathan Ellis
Position: RHP
DOB: October 3, 1982
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 190
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

He admitted that it wasn't a performance-enhancing drug that netted him the suspension but rather a "drug of abuse". Still, it clouded the bright season he was in the midst of. He served his time and had to attend classes in Arizona.

A sixth round pick in 2004, Ellis began the season in Lake Elsinore, giving up runs in four of his 24 California League appearances.

He held lefties to a .171 average and surrendered just five hits in 27 at bats with runners in scoring position.

He pitched in five games for Double-A Mobile before the suspension. He returned in August, making one appearance in the Arizona Rookie League before heading back to the BayBears. His tally for the year in Double-A was a 2.30 ERA over 12 games, including two starts at the end of the year.

"I like what I saw," 2006 pitching coach Glenn Abbott said. "He had a couple of starts but I like him better as a reliever than a starter."

With just 44.2 innings pitched, Ellis was commissioned with an Arizona Fall League stint. He would add just two innings to his 2006 resume before being removed from the roster.

Ellis has a fastball that sits comfortably from 90-92 MPH and he can dial it up to 94. It is, however, the dirty sinker he throws that closes out hitters and a developing slider that keeps hitters off-balance.

"I see potential in his slider and he has a pretty good, consistent sinker," Abbott said. "He did a god job. He was aggressive with a good sinker and slider."

He struck out 10.88 hitters per nine innings of work this past season, relying on a first pitch strike and putting hitters away with that tilting slider that moved away from right-handers and handcuffed lefties with its ability to hit their back foot.

The right-hander also has a changeup he sprinkles in sporadically but he will also mix in a sinker that gets hitters topping the ball into the dirt.

He is a ground ball pitcher with just eight of the 45 hits he allowed going for extra bases and just one leaving the yard.

The South Carolina native, now 24, lost valuable innings this year but has proven to be a valuable asset in relief and as a spot starter. His comfort level in relief, after starting for The Citadel, has come easy and uses his two-pitch preference more wisely.

The days of throwing 150 innings a game are over but his intensity remains. The righty gets to unload his arsenal in the shorter bursts and it has worked to his advantage. His six holds in Lake Elsinore tied him for third most on the team.

Ellis has a decent pickoff move to keep the opposition close to the bags and opponents attempted just six stolen bases on him with his catchers throwing out three.

ETA: Ellis figures to play a prominent part of the San Antonio bullpen in 2007. As a reliever, he could move up to Triple-A quickly and with the Padres consistently using the farm to shore up their pen he is in position to be one of the call-ups. More likely, Ellis will be on track for 2008. He will need to continue to keep the ball down and use his changeup more to meet those goals.

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