The AFL, which begins play on October 10, 2006, is known as the stepping stone to a major league career with 46 players from the 2005 AFL rosters already seeing time in the majors this season.
The Padres will send three pitchers and four position players to the Peoria Saguaros. The team will be coached by Fort Wayne Wizards manager Randy Ready.
Right-handed relievers Jonathan Ellis and Leo Rosales will head to the desert and will be joined by John Hudgins. Catcher Colt Morton will be one of three backstops on the team and will be joined by Mobile teammate Vince Sinisi. The lone exception for the Padres, a player not in Double-A or above, will come in the form of Chase Headley.
The Padres also have another roster spot open for an infielder and it is believed to be between Luis Cruz and Juan Ciriaco.
Ellis, who missed 50 games due to suspension, will get a chance to build on the 36.2 innings he has thrown over three leagues. He dominated in Lake Elsinore early on before being moved to Double-A. Considering his lost time, this choice was relatively easy.
Rosales had some early struggles in Double before being demoted to Lake Elsinore in early May. From that point on he has posted an ERA under 2.00. A notoriously slow starter, the hope is they can keep the success building through the off-season so there is no letdown in April of 2007.
Hudgins will return from a strained right elbow that has kept him out since he felt discomfort in a July 8 start. His placement on the AFL roster is a positive sign, as much as the omission of Cesar Carrillo can be viewed as a concern.
Morton has had a disappointing season to date, hitting .227 in 53 games for the Storm before being elevated to Mobile. The hope is the at bats in the fall league will put him back on pace with the tone he set in 2005 when he pounded the ball with regularity.
Headley has had a successful season at Lake Elsinore and was rewarded because of it. He has hit for average and shown the patience that got him drafted high. It makes you wonder if a good AFL can get him sent directly to Portland to start the 2007 season.
The biggest thing for Sinisi is continued at bats, according to the Padres. They believe he is beginning to find his swing, evidenced by the seven home runs he has hit in the last two months after not hitting any in May and June.
Naming Cruz or Ciriaco could come down to personal preference. Cruz enjoys playing winter ball in Mexico and may be allowed to do so which would put Ciriaco on the AFL roster.