Potential. That was the one word used by many experts to describe the 2010 Tin Cap offense. A year later that same team hopes to turn “potential” into “production.” There is no doubt that the 2011 Storm offense will have the firepower to compete with any team in the Cal League. The biggest questions going into the season will be whether the young Dominican players can put up the numbers that had them labeled as top 20 prospects, and whether or not Hagerty/Freiman can duplicate the stellar years they had in 2010. The good news for all Storm fans is that they will be getting a boost with the additions of Gyorko (at 3B, yay defense) and Fuentes (yay defense).
1) Reymond Fuentes: CF (A, .270/.328/.377 15 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 42 SB, 25 BB, 87 K) As soon as the Adrian trade was announced the comparisons immediately began to be made between Fuentes and Donovan Tate. Both play CF, have tremendous speed and ++ defense. Both also have extremely raw hitting skills. He will have the opportunity to put on a show in Lake Elsinore in 2011, and the Padres are hoping that his potential and numbers will start to equate.
2) Jeudy Valdez: 2B (A, .247/.302/.380 34 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 34 SB, 43 BB, 115 K). The first in a long line of Dominican prospects with potential. Valdez has great speed and has a pretty solid .316 BABIP. Valdez will only be 21 when the season starts and has the ability to get on base, steal bases, hit for power, and do everything you would want out of a #1 or 2 hitter. The problem is ability and production are different things. If he can cut down on the K’s he will be a big asset the big hitter following him.
3) Jason Hagerty C (A, .302/.423/.494 35 2B, 3 3B, 14 HR, 74 RBI, 88 BB, 104 K). No one in the MWL put up the 2nd half that Hagerty did. His .351/.479/.586 post ASB # pretty much carried the team to the playoffs. Of course the anti-Hagertians are quick to point out that he was slightly old (22) last year. However, considering he is a catcher, and putting up those numbers, all I can say is WOW. He improved on all sides of the ball and has (slightly) lowered the voices saying he will not stay at catcher. Look for continued improvement and a monster year for this C out of Miami
4) Nate Frieman 1B (A, .294/.369/.457 43 2B, 14 HR, 84 RBI, 58 BB, 117 K) Freiman is a big kid standing at 6’7″. Like Hagerty Freimans numbers were not considered as impressive given his age (23). Despite whether or not he will become the future 1B of the Padres (probably not) there is no doubt that his numbers are everything you would want from a cleanup hitter. Hopefully Freiman will be able to concentrate more on his bat then trying to dig balls out of the dirt every other play now that Gyorko is the new 3B.
5) Jedd Gyorko 3B (Eug/FtW .302/.372/.444 17 2B, 7 HR, 41 RBI, 28 BB, 57 K in 68 G). What he brings is another stable college bat in the middle of the lineup. Even more noteworthy might be his stability as a fielder. While Gyorko, who was drafted as a 2B, will not win any gold gloves at 3rd, he is hands down better than Rincon defensively. Jedd has a smooth swing and makes hard contact with the ball. Look for him to replicate last years # in the hitter friendly Cal-League
6) Edinson Rincon: DH (A, .250/.315/.399 13 HR, 69 RBI in 132 G) Ahh potential. No one on the team, with the exception of the newly acquired Fuentes, has the potential to be a top 5 prospect more than Rincon. He has ridiculous power, a pretty good eye at the plate, and has shown he could hit for average. Add in the fact that he was only 19 and you have the makings of a top prospect. The biggest problem being that Rincon defensively is similar to Pedro Cerrano trying to hit a curveball in Major League. Its not pretty. Maybe a move to being the main DH (some 3B and LF mixed in) combined with the warm weather of California, and we will see the offensive numbers we expect from Rincon.
7) Daniel Meeley: LF (A, .304/.397/.353 10 2B, 23 RBI, 29 BB, 46 K in 58 G) Meeley was another late addition to the Tin Cap team last year and came on with a bang. Daniel hit .443 with 23 HR in CC in Oklahoma. While he didnt show nearly that much power in Fort Wayne his .304 BA and .359 BA with RISP will be a great addition to a powerful team provided he can replicate the numbers. Meeley will start the season at only 21 years of age and can burst onto the prospect scene with a big year.
8 ) Everett Williams: RF (A, .244/.333/.372 25 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 51 BB, 131 K, 10 SB) Uncle Ben once told Peter Parker “With great power comes great responsibility.” Well this quote applies to more than just cool nerds who get bit by radioactive spiders. Williams has all the talent in the world. He is young and has the ability to be a 5 tool prospect. But nothing will happen unless they work hard and go the extra mile. I am crossing my fingers that Williams realizes this and lives up to his potential. If so we could see him move from 8th to 2nd or 3rd in a very powerful lineup.
9) Johnathon Galvez: SS (A, .259/.360/.397 19 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 58 BB, 121 K, 18 SB) The Padres made a huge leap of faith when they promoted the 19 year old past Eugene and straight to Fort Wayne. As much as I would like to say that Galvez had a bad year he actually did about what the Padres expected. He is young, but has tremendous tools, and will hopefully continue to improve as he gets closer and closer to SD. The BA, OBP, SLG, and SB are not bad for a 19 year old SS. Sadly the 43 errors are!! Scouts continue to raise questions about his ability to stay at short, but the Padres are still holding out faith and will keep him there at least for another year.
Danny Payne OF, was 2nd on the team in BB (74), led the team with 38 SB, led the team with 8 3B. Crazy K numbers and a low BA have kept him back. Dean Anna will see plenty of time at 2B/SS/3B, Griffin Benedict will spell Hagerty behind the plate. Wande Olabasi has an awesome name and will see time in the OF.
Like the Tin Caps 2011 pitching staff, the Lake Elsinore Storm have a great opportunity to be one of the dominant forces in the Cal League and minor league baseball. How many lineups in MiLB does a top 20 prospect hit 9th? The key will be to see continued improvement, both offensively and defensively, out of the young kids from the Dominican.