Padres release eight minor leaguers

The turk cometh. The San Diego Padres released eight minor league players on Monday, including outfielder Nic Crosta, third baseman Gary Schneidmiller, second basemen Ramon Nivar and Murray Hopley, left-handers Todd Cogan, Kyle Stutes, and Brandon Higelin, and right-hander Yesid Salazar.

"We have been real pleased with the work ethic of the players all through camp," minor league field coordinator Tom Gamboa said on one of the toughest days of the year – the day the Padres released eight players. "They thanked Grady for the opportunity they got and the personal attention they got from the coaches and staff. They felt they had a legitimate chance, which is what we are trying to do."

Outfielder Nic Crosta hit a robust .382 over 37 games with the Fort Wayne Wizards during the 2006 season but hit just .194 during the 2007 season with Lake Elsinore, battling a dietary problem that severely drained his strength and taxed his body.

"It's too bad because we are always looking for power and Nic has that," Gamboa said of Crosta. "He was finally working on the right things like staying on the ball better and working the whole field.

"If it ever happened, he is in the wrong league. We tried him at first base and his range is limited in the outfield. With the emergence of our young outfielders there was little room to have him."

Third baseman Gary Schneidmiller was signed out of the Independent League this spring and was thought to have a good shot at the San Antonio roster. He spent the last two years with Amarillo, hitting over .320 in both seasons but not showing the pop necessary for the position. Plus, he was being beaten out by a holdover.

"Seth Johnston has had a pretty good spring," said Gamboa. "We didn't see enough power from Schneidmiller. (Johnston) has done ok (defensively) this spring. He deserves a chance. We see an upside on the offensive part."

Second baseman Ramon Nivar had a tough go this spring down in minor league camp, struggling to get out of the box on several occasions when he fell down trying to scamper down the line. Despite netting big league at-bats in Texas and Baltimore, the depth in the San Diego system was too big for Nivar to hurdle.

"A second baseman we signed from Texas," Gamboa said. "He got some days in the big leagues this spring."

Second baseman Murray Hopley never got a chance to show what he could do after Tommy John surgery that kept him shelved for two years. As he got older and lost development time, the talent around him was enhanced.

"He saw it coming," Gamboa said. "The poor kid – I have been here two years and have never seen him play. It was rehab, rehab, rehab. He was supposed to be able to run at one time. You hate to release a young guy who never had a chance to play a full season."

Left-hander Tony Cogan spent the last three seasons in the Independent Leagues after seeing 39 relief appearances with Kansas City back in 2001.

"Always looking for left-handers," Gamboa acknowledged. "He had some good pens but the location in the games – he has to be more right now. I had him before so I know he can pitch better than he pitched here."

Left-handers Kyle Stutes and Brandon Higelin both fell victim to the numbers game. Stutes saw action with three clubs last season, dropping his arm slot to more of a sidearm approach. Higelin spent the majority of his time in Lake Elsinore, helping them within a game of the Championship.

"Great guys – instrumental in helping our teams win last years," Gamboa noted. "Our talent level is getting better."

Right-hander Yesid Salazar saw action in three leagues and experienced varying degrees of success but he never lived up to the talent.

"Has a pretty good arm and good size but problems getting the ball over on a consistent basis," Gamboa said. "Our staff believed he was an identical pitcher now that he was three years ago."

There will be a few more cuts coming within the week, many will end up being the victim of the fallout and trickle down from the decisions made by the San Diego Padres big league club.

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