Padres release 17 from minor leagues

Righty Wilmer Villatoro is among those released.

With Minor League play just a week away, the Padres released 17 players from minor league camp this morning. Most of the players released were at Single-A or below last season or were brought in during the offseason.

Former second-round draft pick Daniel Moore, who earned an $800,000 signing bonus in 2003, was one of nine pitchers released on Tuesday. The lefty had battled injuries and command problems since he was drafted out of the University of North Carolina, and posted a 6.32 ERA at the bottom of the Padres' farm system.

Other pitchers released include right-handers Wilmer Villatoro, a reliever from El Salvador who had been in the organization for six years; William Ponce, who was 3-10 in Eugene over the last two seasons; Brad Blackwell, who joined Lake Elsinore last August to bolster their bullpen; and Dominican-Leaguer Julio Sanchez.

Right-handers Stephen Spragg, Jon Koch and Bert Snow, and lefty Brian Martin, all of whom signed out of the independent leagues this winter, were released as well.

Among the position players released was utility man Casey Baker, the only player cut who spent significant time above Lake Elsinore in the system. Second baseman Peter Maestrales, taken from the Royals in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft, and Mexican-League veteran Pat O'Sullivan were also cut after it became apparent they would not make the Mobile club.

Infielders Clint Cleland and Billy Richardson, and outfielder Brian Cavanaugh, who all played at Eugene in 2005, and outfielders Yasmil Urbina and Darrell Walters from the club's Latin American development program, rounded out the moves.

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