by Ben Davey
As a special Christmas treat this year I thought I would post my 2010 preview of the Lake Elsinore.
If you have never been to a Lake Elsinore Storm game before…BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW. Okay, well not now as they are not currently on sale yet, but if you have never been to a minor league game before, and live in southern california, this is your year. Not only can you purchase behind home plate seats for $10, but the Storm also have great promotions such as Thirsty Thursdays, Friday Fireworks, and all you can eat Tuesdays. Of course the best reason of all to see the Storm this year is that they will be featuring a majority of the 2009 Tin Caps roster, that had had the best record in ALL OF MILB! First game is April 8th, Padres will play at Lake Elsinore on April 2nd.
Continued after the jump…
So enough promotion for the Storm, lets get into WHY they will be so dominant.
For starters the team will feature both mine, and madfriars #1 and #2 prospects in Jaff Decker and Simon Castro. In addition they will have other top prospects such as Drew Cumberland, Dan Robertson, Blake Tekotte, Alan Dykstra, Cole Figureoa, Anthony Bass, and Nick Schmidt.
Blake Tekotte CF .258/.345/.396/.741 30 SB, 13 HR, 83 RS
Drew Cumberland SS .293/.386/.410/.797 19 SB (77 G)
Jaff Decker LF .299/.442/.514/.956 10 SB, 16 HR (led the team)
Alan Dykstra 1B .226/.397/375/.771 11 HR, 104 BB (hit over .300 with .930 OPS final month+)
Cole Figureoa 2B .319/.408/.403/.812 (with FtW only)
Dan Robertson RF .296/.380/.398/.778 20 SB, 78 RS (2nd to Tekotte)
Yefri Carvajal DH .257/.301/.358/.659 (FtW/LE combined)
Justin Baum 3B .206/.295/.312/.608 (FtW/LE combined, batted over .300 in playoffs)
Adam Zornes C .200/.300/.404/.704 8 HR
1-6 this lineup is as dangerous as any in any organization, and that is without Matt Clark and James Darnell who were with Fort Wayne to begin the season but will more than likely begin 2010 in San Antonio.
Carvajal is a former top prospect who still has the potential to put up big numbers but is quickly fading after posting consecutive disappointing performances.
There is also a chance that the Padres promote Belnome to play 3B in LE. Belnome went .500/.556/.658 in 10 G in Ft W after bating .297/.431/.500 in Eugene.
After battling through the tough and cold conditions in the MidWest League, the hitter friendly Cal League will be a paradise for a lot of these players to have truly breakout performances. This is a team that is going to score runs in bunches.
Defensively this team is just as good as any. The OF defense of Decker-Tekotte-Robertson features 3 guys all capable of playing CF. Tekotte is an outstanding defenders and one of the best in the organization. Robertson has great foot speed and reminds me a lot of Eric Owens. What he might not have in ability compared to Tekotte he makes up for it by going 1000% all the time, and has a surprisingly accurate arm. A lot has been said about Decker’s defensive ability because of his “PMacish” body. Despite this Decker is far from below average defensively. It remains to be seen what will happen at higher levels, but Decker, a former pitcher, has a good arm, and will only improve defensively.
Up the middle the team is just as good. Both Figureoa and Cumberland are more than capable SS. There are reports floating around that Cumberland might not have the arm to stay at short, but it seems like the Padres ideology to keep him there as long as possible. The big thing for this tandem will be staying healthy. Drew got in only 56 G in 2008 and 77 in 2009, missing significant parts of both season due to injury. If the 2 of them stay healthy it will be a big boost for the team offensively and defensively.
At the corners Baum and Dykstra are both adequate defensively. They will never win a gold glove but Baum’s 0 errors in 47 G in Fort Wayne is a pretty good stat. Dykstra needs to improve on picking the ball out of the dirt, but that is something that he will hopefully get better at during the offseason.
Behind the plate Zornes calls a pretty good game. He did have 11 PB, 2 errors, and threw out 25% (24-96) basestealers last season (67 G). From a defensive standpoint Robert Lara is the better catcher throwing out 39% of would be base stealers (23-49) with 3 PB but 7 E in 56 G. However Zornes is vastly superior offensively and the playing time will continue to skew in his favor
Simon Castro 10-6, 3.33 ERA, 140.1 IP, 118 H, 37 BB, 157 K (Madfriars#1 prospect)
Anthony Bass 12-3, 2.55 ERA, 123.2 IP, 112 H, 39 BB, 89 K (FtW/LE)
Nick Schmidt 6-8, 5.24 ERA, 99.2 IP, 106 H, 50 BB, 86 K (FtW/LE)
Erik Davis 16-6, 3.64 ERA, 123.2 IP, 111 H, 44 BB, 106 K (led organization in W)
than the final spot goes to…
Stiven Osuna 10-9 4.54 ERA, 123 IP, 123 H, 54 BB, 105 K
Dexter Carter 7-6, 4.60 ERA, 139 IP, 137 IP, 47 BB, 166 K (FtW and Sally League)
Michael Watt 7-4, 4.17 ERA, 121 IP, 119 H, 44 BB, 87 K (more than likely in pen)
Obviously Nick Schmidt looks like the 1 who doesn’t belong, but the former 1st round pick absolutely dominated Fort Wayne and was soon promoted and struggled to fine the strike zone in LE. He gave up 4 or more runs in each of his final 4 starts never lasting more than 4.1 IP. However a healthy off season and more time to fully recover from Tommy John, should put Schmidt back in the good graces of the Padre brass.
Castro has outstanding stuff, and will undoubtedly be one of the top prospects in the Cal League this year.
Bass was the first pitcher selected in the 2008 draft and was a MWL all star in 2009. He was promoted to LE where he was limited in innings (since he threw 90 innings by the all star break) but still was extremely successful.
If Davis was pitching last year it meant automatic win night for Fort Wayne last year.
Finally Dexter Carter has good stuff but was hammered after being traded to the Padres. He might end up repeating Fort Wayne but dont be surprised to see him in LE at some point in 2010.
The final stop will be just every bit as dominant as the rotation and lineup will be.
7th inning: Alexis Lara 4-0, 3.03 ERA, 65.1 IP, 39 H, 28 BB, 80 K (3-0, 0.52 ERA, 34.2 IP, 11 H, 13 BB, 40 K post all star break)
8th inning: Brad Brach 3-3, 1.27 ERA, 63.2 IP, 36 H, 11 BB, 82 K, 33 SV
9th inning: Jackson Quezada 2-4, 2.12 ERA, 63.2 IP, 42 H, 19 BB, 79 K, 27 SV, 1 HR, 3 2B (2008)
It might seem strange that the top closer in the MWL in 2009 would become the setup man in 2010, but that is just how good the Padres think Quezada will be. In 2009 they placed him on the 40 man roster afraid that another Joakim Soria situation would arise.
Quezada missed all of 2009 which let Bryan Oland step into the closers role last year However now Quezada is back and healthy and will more than likely be given the task of closing out games in 2010. He has a low to mid 90′s fastball, with great late life, a solid slider, and an improving change. After watching him pitch, you can see him as the future closer of the San Diego Padres, and expect him to preform like it.
This also allows the Storm to push Brach and Lara up an inning to make the game that much shorter. Brach doesnt have the power of either Lara or Quezada which makes him the perfect mix between the 2. He relies on a heavy dose of splitters, sliders, and a change which eats up hitters. The lack of dominating stuff is what is moving him to the 8th inning role, but that doesnt mean he will not be effective in LE.
Finally Lara has a mid 90′s FB with an above average change that is thrown from the exact same style as his FB which makes it a lethal pitch. He previously had an incredibly violent delivery but that has since been fixed and the result are his 2nd half numbers this year.
Expect the Storm to make the playoffs again, and have a great chance of winning it all. This is a group of players who are not only great prospects, but are also used to winning. A great offense, above average defense, solid starting pitching, and fantastic pen, wil be an explosive punch up the 15. The Padres play at the diamond on April 2nd, and dont be surprised if this team gives them a run for their money Merry Christmas/New Year