3. Lake Elsinore Storm
This is likely the one team and park that most fans are familiar with, given its closeness to the big league club. They are a Class A Advanced team in the California League.
They were the Angels affiliate until the end of the 2000 season. The Storm play at “The Diamond,” which can hold over 8,000 baseball fans. There is not a bad seat in the ballpark, and there are 11 luxury suites as well. The Storm have 2 mascots: Thunder and Jackpot. There is a grass field down the right field line that all kids and fans can play at.
In terms of food, it is very standard. A Storm Dog may be their most popular bite to eat, and Baskin Robbins has many stands throughout the ballpark, serving ice cream.
Tickets range from about eight to fifteen dollars, so for a minor league game, they are a little on the high side. Then again, it is California, and it is a very nice stadium. If a family is looking for a good place to have a fun few hours without breaking the bank, they cannot go wrong with The Diamond at Lake Elsinore.
There are tributes to two former Padre greats (Jerry Coleman, and Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn) on display on the outfield walls. Those are evident alongside retired numbers of Joe Urso (7) and Jake Peavy (22).
On May 18, 2007, the Storm set the record for the most lopsided victory in their league, beating the Lancaster JetHawks 30-0. In that game, Matt Antonelli (!!!) went 6-8 with two doubles, three RBI, and scored five runs. Kyle Blanks (!!!) went 6-7 with 2 doubles, a home run, and scored six runs. The Storm’s first five hitters (Antonelli, Cooper, David Freese (yeah, WS MVP), Blanks, and Chad Huffman) went 22-for-32 with five homers, six doubles, 19 RBIs and 24 runs scored. The first two pitchers for Lancaster: Kris Johnson gave up eight runs — seven earned — on five hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Mario Pena gave up for 11 runs on eight hits and three walks in 1 2/3 frames. Yikes! That’s not all, though. In the same series, Lake Elsinore won a game 21-6. They ended up scoring 63 runs in the three-game series, winning two out of the three games (they lost the other game of the series, only scoring 12 runs in a 14-12 defeat). It was a great series win for the Storm that included some big leaguers (only one of which did much with the Padres).
The Storm ended the first half of 2016 six games under .500. In the second half, though, they ended 4 games above the .500 mark. Their second half improvement was assisted by a few players: 1B Josh Naylor, who was acquired in the Andrew Cashner trade, Ruddy Giron and Michael Gettys, who were called up from Fort Wayne, and 2B Luis Urias, who may have had the most impressive year in the organization.
2017 figures to be one of the more exciting years in recent memory for the Storm. Ruddy Giron, Michael Gettys, and Josh Naylor all figure to be key components on the team for a good majority of the year. SS Javier Guerra, who disappointed in 2016, will seek to bounce back. C Marcus Greene Jr., who was part of the Will Venable trade to Texas, is leading the Australian League in HR this winter and will look to break out. C Austin Allen, who hit .320 as a 22-year-old in Fort Wayne, will look to keep progressing through the system. Previously mentioned Jorge Ona is expected to begin his professional career in Lake Elsinore.
A few more of the international signings could appear with the Storm as well. P Michel Baez and Ronald Bolanos are two recent signings that are expected to begin their pro careers in either Fort Wayne or Lake Elsinore.
In terms of pitching, SP Enyel De Los Santos is an intriguing arm to continue to look at. He is not necessarily “ace” material, but could very well be part of the pitching prospects that we see come up to San Diego before the more elite pitching prospects (Espinozas and Morejons) mature. Cal Quantrill and Eric Lauer may very well be pitching for the Storm come July/August if all progresses smoothly. It probably is unlikely to see Anderson Espinoza in Lake Elsinore (due to his age) but there is a possibility of him dominating Fort Wayne in the first half of the season. Perhaps the Padres will want to test Espinoza further in the second half of the season, but that is a ways away.
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Baseball is fun. College sophomore that is aspiring to work someday in the sports industry. Follow me on twitter @Friar_Faithful. Go Pads!