The minor leagues are a fascinating place. For some, it is just a stepping stone to stardom. For others, it is a financial struggle and a tiring grind as they try to hold on to their childhood dream.
The Padres have five organization affiliates:
- Tri-City Dust Devils
- Fort Wayne TinCaps
- Lake Elsinore Storm
- San Antonio Missions
- El Paso Chihuahuas.
Have you ever wondered what each affiliate was all about?
What park they played in?
When they were founded?
If so, you are in the right place. Without further ado, here is all you ever needed to know (and then some) about the five minor league affiliates of the San Diego Padres.
- Tri-City Dust Devils
The Tri-City Dust Devils are members of a short-season Class-A Northwest League. The team is located in Pasco, Washington. They play in Gesa Stadium, a ballpark that holds 3,700 people.
Gesa is a regional financial cooperative based in Washington, and they signed a 10-year deal for stadium naming rights back in 2008. The park opened in 1995 and has housed a number of minor league and independent ball teams. Gesa Stadium is most commonly known for its 137-foot sunshade that it has down the first-base line.
Tri-City is a “short-season” team, which means they play 75 games instead of the typical 140. The season starts in June and ends in early September. The main purpose of the league is to allow newly drafted and signed high school/college players to get their feet wet in professional baseball. Many international prospects also make their professional debuts here.
The Tri-City Dust Devils started as an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and just recently became a Padres’ affiliate in 2015. Former Padres Clint Barmes and Brad Hawpe, Chone Figgins, Jake Westbrook, and Juan Pierre are all notable players who have played for the Dust Devils.
Tri-City saw the professional debuts of a handful of the Padres’ international signees in 2017, such as Adrian Morejon, Justin Lopez, Luis Almanzar, Henry Henry, and Osvaldo Hernandez. Tre Carter and Luis Asuncion, two very talented yet raw outfielders, also spent time with the Dust Devils.
Tri-City’s season does not start until June 15th this year. The MLB First Year Player Draft begins on June 4th, so expect to see a handful of Padres 2018 draftees make their professional debuts there in the “dog days of summer.” It is also likely that a few more of Preller’s international signees will play in the States for the first time in the place known by locals as the “Atomic Town” (Tri-City).
- Fort Wayne TinCaps
The Fort Wayne TinCaps are the Padres’ Single-A minor league affiliate. The team is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and they play at Parkview Field. Parkview can hold a maximum of 8,100 people and is one of the best minor league parks out there. Just recently, the park was named No. 1 in the minor leagues by Stadium Journey for the fourth year in a row.
Stadium Journey also ranked the park as the 29th best stadium experience of 2017… in all of sports. On a 0-5 scale, Parkview received a 5 in food and beverage, atmosphere, fans, returns on investment, and extras. Downtown Fort Wayne was given a 4 on the scale. Some of the food at Parkview, as described by StadiumJourney.com:
The concourse that circumnavigates Parkview Field measures 1/3 of a mile, and you are going to need to circle the field a few times to walk off the calories you take in while sampling the incredible amount of food available here. Of course, the menu stays true to the apple theme, under the leadership of Executive Chef and Culinary Director Scott Kammerer. The clearest example of the apple’s influence on the menu can be seen at the Apple Cart, located near home plate on the third base line. The Apple Cart serves up some of the best (and biggest) desserts in baseball, including apple dumplings, apple won tons, fried apples, caramel apples, apple crisp (served in a plastic mini-helmet), and more.
The apple theme continues throughout the concourse at stands such as Manzana’s Mexican Grill (where they put apple in the mole sauce), Bases Loaded BBQ (where they put apple juice in the BBQ sauce), and Center Field Grill (where they glaze the grilled chicken with apple).
The latest addition to the TinCaps apple-infused menu is “The Big Apple” group dessert. For $30, fans can share four helpings of Apple Crisp, four homemade Apple Dumplings, five scoops of vanilla ice cream, all drizzled with hot caramel and garnished with apple slices, served in a full-sized batting helmet. Intended to be a group dessert, many foolhardy TinCaps fans have attempted to finish this monstrosity off by themselves.
A kids play area is located in left field, complete with a bouncy house, climbing wall, and a slide. People are allowed to step and play in a fountain over the center field fence.
Compared to many minor league stadiums, Parkview’s 58 x 26 video board appears quite big. Middle of the innings are filled with entertainment, giveaways, contests, and games.
In terms of talent, Fort Wayne was perhaps the most exciting minor league affiliate that the Padres had in 2017. Fernando Tatis Jr., Hudson Potts, Jorge Ona, Michel Baez, Pedro Avila, Logan Allen, and Hansel Rodriguez were all a big part of the TinCaps team that lost in the Midwest League Championship Series.
2018 is poised to present more talent to Padres fans and the TinCaps faithful. On the pitching side, leading the way will be 2017 first-round pick MacKenzie Gore, who is expected to make his professional pitching debut in Fort Wayne. Other names to follow in the rotation include Mason Thompson and Osvaldo Hernandez.
In terms of position players, CF Tre Carter, who hit a 411-foot home run at Petco Park in the 2017 Padres Futures Game, began his season in Fort Wayne. Jeisson Rosario and Tirso Ornelas, two extremely talented international players who have drawn attention due to their talent, have also started the season in the TinCaps’ outfield.
In the infield, Esteury Ruiz, who was acquired from the Royals in a midseason trade last year, is expected to man second base. Luis Campusano, a 19-year-old catcher who was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft, will handle some of the catching duties. The rest of the infield will be a mix of Preller’s international signees, with guys like Gabriel Arias, Justin Lopez, and Reinaldo Ilarraza receiving playing time.
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